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Too Cute, Again

September 17, 2010

Andrew Cuomo makes a point of refusing to engage on the topic of Carl Paladino. He insists that he does not know Paladino and, therefore, “I don’t think my characterization (of him) is all that relevant or appropriate…” 

A model of restraint and probity, Andrew is. 

The only problem is that his people are frantically trying to jazz up supporters to say that Paladino is racist, sexist, anti-semitic and, well, you know, wacko, crazy, nuts, unfit for office, dishonorable, appalling and bestial. (Yes, there is a real bestiality connection, they say. It has to do with his the famous emails.) 

Rather than addressing issues that affect working families, Cuomo wants the focus to be on Paladino’s personality. The thought is that if you can really rough up Paladino in the media, he’ll get frustrated and angry and will then say something intemperate and embarrassing. 

And the media – from the New York Post to Anderson Cooper to Rachel Maddow – are playing along and are now part of the Cuomo campaign. 

In a CNN interview last night, all Cooper wanted to talk about was Paladino’s position on abortion, his idea for a boot camp for welfare recipients and his famous emails. (Paladino was perfectly composed throughout the interview.) 

We’re going to say something that will shock and probably disappoint our progressive friends: We simply don’t care about Paladino’s positions on these matters. Nor do we care about charges of racism, sexism and anti-Semitism. (Inhale, please.) 

We think this discussion is a digression from the issues that matter most – which is fiscal and economy policy. We think the Democrats just are practicing their version of “wedge issue” politics. 

Let’s consider it all in a different way: What if Paladino really was a bigot? He claims to have an excellent record on minority hiring and community building, but let’s assume that it is a complete lie. So we elect a person who hates blacks, women and Jews. Then what happens? Is he going to act on his prejudices as Governor and harm us? Are the members of the Legislature going to go along with it? Are the courts?   

The thought is absurd. And so is all this hyperventilating about Paladino’s supposed dark side. 

We should be talking fiscal and economic policy in this campaign. We should be insisting that both candidates tell us in specific terms what they will do for our families. 

Cuomo, whom we all regard as the better man and the next governor, should leading this effort, but he and his team are not. They are too busy scaring people.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. anonymous permalink
    September 17, 2010 2:22 PM

    In trying to make a valid point, you all have gone way way way over the line.

    yes, you are right, we need a campaign that focuses on the important issues for many very good reasons.

    but we also should have standards in what we demand of our leaders. It would not be okay to elect a bigot because the legislature would stop him from carrying out his bigotry. As you all know well, I’m sure, a governor has a great deal of power in hiring and awarding contracts and steering spending and setting policies and the legislature would not be able to stop all of that. And what message to do we send to the minorities among us when we make an open bigot our leader.

    come on guys and gals. (I hope you include both, but I doubt you include non whitess) In your valid desire for a spirited debate on the issues, don’t become blind to everyone else of value, lest you destroy your own, which, based on your performance to date, would be a shame.

    • September 17, 2010 4:41 PM

      Dear Anon:

      Are you sure? Are you absolutely sure that Paladino is a bigot?

      It cannot be: “I think so.” It cannot be: “That’s what I heard.”

      You have to have evidence. Hard evidence.

      We happen to believe that the evidence that exists is suspect. It is the emails that have been reported and the various comments that Paladino has made.

      To us, this is evidence of insensitivity and idiocy, but not racial bigotry and anti-Semitism.

      Keep in mind we’re not embracing obnoxious actions and comments. A thousand times, no.

      What we are just saying is that we ought not to allow this matter to dominate political discourse in New York.

      No, we do not want to be cavalier about social concerns that are very important to you and others, but we do want to keep our eye on the ball, which is fiscal and economic policy.

      We don’t want to see this campaign deteriorate into a discussion of an individual candidate’s flaws.

      In this regard, if you were a Democratic operative (and we’re not saying that you are) you have just succeeded with a remarkable political ploy. You have perfectly framed the issue and you have our editorial staff deliberating internally about whether Paladino is a bigot or just a jerk.

      That might be really effective political strategy, but it is wrong.

      Thank you very much for your thoughtful reply. We must agree to disagree.


  2. anonymous permalink
    September 17, 2010 5:46 PM

    I was responding to what you wrote, that actually electing a bigot would not be that bad. I find that dangerous and offensive. And I think you ought to retract that comment. It would be very bad for many reasons. It was a flawed and failed argument and hurts, rather than helping your point.

    I am just as committed to the importance of debate of real issues as being essential to the functioning of democracy and improving the performance of elected officials. I hate diversions of all kinds.

    Now, is Paladino actually a bigot or just a man with no sense. You have succeeded in your ploy, you whatever you are operatives, by making me think about that. does passing on clearly racist materials make one a racist? shouldn’t we be more concerned about how the person actually lives? But we are only asking these questions because Paladino’s actions raise them. and frankly if Paladino has done good works in the community, that’s a part of this record he should now prove. that is relevant and not a diversion.

    I don’t want to spend the entire campaign on this any more than you do, but these are not just “social” issues, they are fundamental to the way we live and impact everything else. and it’s basically the Republican Party’s fault for not putting up a serious candidate who presents a serious challenge with a serious program and alternative.

    I am not now nor have I ever been called or considered an operative of any kind. but this is not the first time i have tried to make you folks think and is a sign of taking you seriously.

  3. A Brummel permalink
    September 20, 2010 9:35 PM

    We’ve been electing sexists for hundreds of years, some of whom have done great things.
    Shelly Silver is a sexist and he’s been the Assembly Speaker for 16 years. I don’t believe Silver has done great things but I’m sure the two qualities can co-exist.

    I understand the point here and the point is wedge issues, as important as they are, are used as a distraction from a real examination of how each candidate proposes to govern.

    Eric Schneiderman and NARAL on stage primary night was a perfect example. Eric lead with a wedge issue to distract from the fact that Dan Donovan is more qualified to carry out the day to day responsibilities of an Attorney General.

    But but but …he’s pro-life! How can I say that? Simply this, I was pleased with how Eliot Spitzer re-defined his role in the office , and Andrew Cuomo is a fine Attorney General as well. I don’t remember their personal view on abortion being important to that role. I might be mistaken but I don’t remember that abortion rights were a major part of their focus.
    Yes abortion rights are important, and I would not vote for someone who would deny me that right, but they are a wedge issue in the AG’s race none the less. I think that’s what the writers mean by wedge issues. Not that they do not matter.

  4. anonymous permalink
    September 22, 2010 4:36 PM

    I understand and agree with argument about wedge issues. But it is good that we no longer allow our leaders to express openly bigoted sentiments and that’s a standard we should maintain. if you want to avoid wedge issues, remember that race has been and continues to be one of the most powerful and most misused wedge issues. when someone uses it they should be called on it. Paladino is crazy like a fox. He knows exactly what he is doing.

    Words matter. Arguments matter. The following is not only factually wrong, because an openly racist Governor would make a big difference, it is just unacceptable and weakens the argument against wedge issues:

    What if Paladino really was a bigot? He claims to have an excellent record on minority hiring and community building, but let’s assume that it is a complete lie. So we elect a person who hates blacks, women and Jews. Then what happens? Is he going to act on his prejudices as Governor and harm us? Are the members of the Legislature going to go along with it? Are the courts?

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