David Rodeback's Blog

Local Politics and Culture, National Politics,
Life Among the Mormons, and Other Stuff

Normal Version

Monday, October 18, 2010
The Green Hornet of Justice, Among Others

This blog post is rated PG, because talking about New York politics involves adult themes. You've been warned.

The Circus

I know that the Utah gubernatorial candidates will all do their best in tonight's debate, but, sorry, boooooooring -- relatively, at least.

Allow me to direct your gaze to the east, mostly, and a little north. If you think that the media's convenient obsession with the Christine O'Donnell / witchcraft theme in Delaware is weird, or you think the nasty ad in Kentucky calling Rand Paul some sort of practicing pagan is unusually over the top, it's only because you've been ignoring the race for New York Governor. I lived in New York State (stress on "York" if you say it aloud) for a decade, back in a previous century. The races I saw for governor then seemed unusually conventional for New York. This year's race is . . . unusually New York, even for New York. Or so it appears from two thousand miles away.

Last night there was a debate, apparently the only debate of the season for this race. The stage was pretty crowded. Tea Party Republican Carl Paladino insisted beforehand that third-party candidates -- or "niche" candidates, to borrow a nice phrase from Adam Hanft at Salon.com -- be included, or he wouldn't participate either. So instead of two, there were seven on the stage. If a politician's job in our all-too-Roman time is to deliver bread and circuses, Paladino certainly delivered the circus. I don't mean that he was the circus; he just invited the circus. And it came.

The Big Media Acronyms are so ardently proclaiming that Paladino is nuts that it's hard to know whether it's just the usual anti-Republican spin or an actual, clinical fact. Meanwhile, Democrat Andrew Cuomo is said to have an anger management problem, and there's more and more buzz -- justifiably -- as Election Day approaches about his leading role in causing the housing and mortgage collapse which plunged us into our present economic abyss.

But these guys are the normal ones, relatively speaking.

Then there's Candidate Charles Barron, who was talking about Cuomo's "cojones" the other day, then seemed later to take offense at the idea -- or was it the sight? -- of "men's gyrating nether regions." Sorry for the coarse talk, folks, but in New York, this is hardly coarse at all.

There's Candidate Howard Hawkins, who has some prowess with a hula hoop, and who is seen in one of his commercials running down the capitol steps, dressed as the Green Hornet of Justice.

There's Warren Redlich. His parody of a Paladino confrontation with a reporter has the reporter saying Paladino is "full of crap," which the parody Paladino refutes by presenting printouts from his endoscopy, which prove otherwise.

And don't miss Jimmy McMillan, who ran for mayor of New York City last year from the Rent Is Too Damn High Party. The Board of Elections removed "damn" from the party name -- not for the reason you think, but because it made the party name too long. This caused McMillan to replace "Too" with "2," and also to reply in graphic, anatomically specific language more reminiscent of a past business venture of . . .

. . . the fifth "niche" candidate, Kristin Davis. She used to be VP of a hedge fund, but she made an allegedly economically-motivated decision to change careers. She went into business as a madam.

Yes, that kind of madam. A certain frenzied anti-Wall Street faction would say she moved up in the world. In any case, she was quite successful -- until one day the Governor of the Great State of New York, Eliot Spitzer, was caught, ahem, employing one of her employees. He went out of business, and so did she. She also went to jail for a while. Now she's gone from convict to candidate, running on the Anti-Prohibition ticket, advocating legalized prostitution, gambling, marijuana, and -- most heinous of all -- transfats. (I'm kidding about the transfats, I think.)

In what had to be one of the best lines of last night's debate, Davis said: "The difference between the [Metropolitan Transportation Authority] and my escort service is I had one set of books and delivered on-time and efficient service."

I know, I know. Some of you are thinking that all this -- especially the Kristin Davis phenomenon, and possibly also the fact that I'm blogging about it -- signals that our civilization is circling the bowl. You may be right. But it's not any weirder than California, with its once-and-hopefully-not-future Governor Moonbeam, Jerry Brown, who seems to be taken seriously by some voters. I'm not sure which ones or why, but it might be about half of them. Anyway, back in New York, things are just different -- a little weirder than New York normal, maybe, but only a little.

It puts me in mind of Miss Elizabeth Bennet's distinguished father, who asked, in the most famous Jane Austen novel and my favorite BBC chick flick, "For what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbors, and laugh at them in our turn?"

The Questions

I confess: I got caught up in the New York spirit of it all. I really do love New York, even though I don't have a bumper sticker or shirt that says so. And New Yorkers are some of my favorite people.

Here are some questions my wife would not let me submit for last night's gubernatorial debate, even if I had known how to do that. At first she insisted on anonymity in exchange for her input, but then she suggested that I mention her in the limited role of not letting me submit the questions.

And here I should probably repeat my warning about this post being rated PG. Please stop reading right now, if you're going to be offended. If you're not, you'll have a chance to participate in a purely literary manner before this soon-to-be-interactive blog post is over.

These are my questions for all of the candidates, of course, because that's how the best debates usually work.

  1. Have you seven ever met each other before? Where and how many times? Did money change hands?
  2. When did you first get hooked into politics?
  3. How has your private sector work experience helped prepare you for New York politics?
  4. Quid pro quo is sometimes expected in politics. What favors have your campaign contributors requested in return for their cash? And if they give you enough quid, do you send a pro to deliver the quo?
  5. How is your candidacy different from trying to put lipstick on a hooker?
  6. [Make up your own question here about improving New York's chronically struggling economy. The ones I thought of would have dropped my rating instantly to PG-13.]
  7. [Censored -- but it was funny -- trust me -- and showed a one-time resident's knowledge of New York geography.]

Next time, I'll go back to being serious. I'm not sure we should expect the same of New York.

Normal Version