It’s a select group. To become part of it, you have to be in the game for a long, long time. You have to be a person who is principled, thoughtful, constructive and – here’s the really distinguishing feature – you have to be indefatigable. (Love that word.)
Call it the Pantheon of Albany. Karen Scharff is in it – by virtue of 30 years of tireless advocacy. You don’t have to agree entirely with her politics, which are far left, but you absolutely have to respect her as a person of intelligence and integrity.
Gerry Benjamin is in it. Who, over the decades, has more faithfully sought to separate personality and partisan politics from the analysis of public policy? Who has tried harder to get the political system to focus on what is objectively in the public interest?
And Bruce Gyory is in it. He has a special place in the Pantheon. It’s a room lined with history books and a table spread with polling crosstabs.
This is an endearingly idiosyncratic fellow who has been around since the Carey days. He was mentored by liberals and has been in business with conservatives. He served with Democrats and advised Republicans.
For a long time, we wondered about the way he seems to mix political threads – championing initiatives like the Dream Act while admonishing pols not to abandon the center.
We also wondered about his public persona: He’s everywhere as a commentator and writer and is rather hard to peg. He gets billed as a Democratic consultant and is often paired with others, such John McArdle, Dave Catalfamo and Bob Bellefiore. Those are powerhouse Rs, pretty rigid in their thinking. Gyory always shines in such settings. He seems to have a better grasp of the details and is more facile, less partisan.
Gyory is not without faults, however. There are times when he’ll really stretch a historical comparison. The Court of Prince Metternich isn’t exactly applicable to Senate Rules Committee. And, he can bury you with polling data: “These polling results remind me nearly exactly of the situation in ’54 when Jacob Javits was facing FDR Jr. in the Attorney General race. They were separated by just nine points with two weeks remaining and everyone knew that turnout of white Catholics in Little Falls would be the deciding factor…”
And there’s another aspect to him that’s unique. It’s not a fault exactly – but a really unusual sentiment emerges at times. He betrays a feeling, subtly, of disgust for politicians who act in ways that ignore the obvious in polls. There’s an unspoken reproach when he talks about the Republicans failing to see the growth of the Hispanic vote or the Democratic veering left. “This is a Democratic state, not a liberal state,” he insists.
We love the Gyory passion. We love his love of the game. Listen to him on Susan Arbetter – he can be breathless with excitement in talking about some political trend he sees.
But what really separates Gyory in our mind – and the point of this encomium – is his desire to be constructive. And a case in point is his brilliant piece yesterday on De Blasio and La Guardia.
The folks in De Blasio land and Bill himself might have read that and thought Gyory was slapping him around. Anything but. It was a gentle, gentile reminder for the Mayor that substance matters and that he really, really needs to focus on the nuts and bolts of city government.
We’ve been spending a lot of time in New York City lately and we see the city falling apart. We want to scream. But there’s De Blasio planning another international trip – while the homeless ranks swell and cops now let criminals walk away because they don’t want to risk any controversy in arresting them.
De Blasio would do well to read and re-read Gyory’s piece.