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How Hard Could It Be? 

September 3, 2014

There’s been a frustrated subtext to recent posts.  We couldn’t figure out why everyone doesn’t recognize that Cuomo has done a good job as governor over the last four years.  All you have to do is look at the record and compare him to the governors we’ve had over that last two or three decades. Nobody compares.  He has been a real leader, a strong governor who is competent and moderate.

So why do so many people we respect seem to dislike Cuomo so intensely? Why?

Well — hit us over the head with it — it’s because he can be maddeningly obtuse.

Case in point: What person in political life stands up and says that debates don’t serve democracy?

Oh, we know what he was driving at. He was trying to say that the debate he participated in four years ago was stupid. That was the debate that included a madam and the guy who wore a white glove. And it was, without a doubt, a stupid and demeaning debate.

But that doesn’t mean all debates are stupid. It doesn’t mean the next one will be. It certainly does mean that he, as the sitting governor, can’t exert his influence to design a good debate.

How hard could it be to do that?

There are all kinds of ways to interact with people today. Town hall meetings. Structured interviews. Online forums.

Hell, he could invent a new debate format.

What? He can’t do that because of tradition?

This is the guy who turned 124 years of tradition on its ear when he stopped delivering the State of the State Message in the Assembly Chamber. He turned the constitutional requirement that he deliver an annual message to the legislature into a multi-media show that virtually ignores the lawmakers, except for the cartoon images of them captaining ships that cross in the night.

He can do that, but he can’t come up with an acceptable debate format?

Maddening! And it goes beyond that, he’s just not respecting the process right now. His father always said that a campaign should be “a competition of ideas on how to improve the state.”

Astorino is hapless, but we all ought to respect the fact that he has proposed an economic plan and now an education plan. Teachout is shallow outside her area of specialty, but at least she’s talking issues. Hawkins is 61 and still calls himself “Howie,” but at least he can describe his philosophy.

What plan does Cuomo have? What issue is truly dear to his heart? What exactly is his philosophy beyond being transactional.   

The campaign season is the time when we’re supposed to at least get hints on the answers to such questions. But not this campaign. Not yet anyway.

Yeah, we understand Rose Gardens. We understand “strategery.”

We also understand the reasonable expectations of ordinary people he participate in the process. That’s our hope and expectation, too.

It’s unfortunate, but his disdain for his opponents mostly amateurish attacks is looking more and more like disdain for the people and the political process itself. 

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