Political Correctness

16 Oct

Carl Paladino is so proud of not being “politically correct” that he repeats it over and over again.  It’s part of the equation that led to his epic defeat of never-there candidate Rick Lazio.  Carl had passion; a fire in the belly.  He’d take on all comers, and he’d bloody them.  He said all the right belligerent things against all the enemies of New York conservatism.  Carl was just what the Republican Party ordered.

It’s no secret that a candidate appeals to his base during a primary campaign, and then if he wins, he’ll appeal to the center to attract moderates and independents. In New York especially, where Democrats enjoy such an overwhelming enrollment advantage, Republican candidates have to make the economic appeal and set aside social issues like abortion and GLBT rights.

But Paladino never bothered.  At least he’s consistent – saying the same things to the same Republican base now that he did before.  But while that politically incorrect talk helped him during the primary, it’s been his biggest liability over the last few weeks as he introduces himself to the rest of the electorate, and with his newfound statewide and national media attention.

It’s perfectly clear that a Lazio nomination would have resulted in the same result as 2006; Cuomo would have blown him away.  Paladino, at least, has made the race worth watching.  For better or worse.

The irony is that “political correctness” has itself become politically incorrect.  But why?  I’m not talking about using “differently abled” as opposed to “disabled”, or “people of color” versus “African-Americans”.  I’m talking instead simply about keeping your mouth in check.

Paladino and his partisans whine and moan about how mean the media have been to Carl.  How dare they expose his business dealings?  Why do they point out Carl’s marital indiscretions and ignore Cuomo’s personal life?  You know the drill, if you’ve been paying attention.  Well, it’s all Carl’s fault.

Carl’s entire campaign didn’t start out as a blunt economic appeal.  It began with “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore.”  It’s a line from Network, a satirical movie from 35 years ago, and the character who utters it is an insane lunatic.  Carl began his campaign by revealing his own marital infidelity, and using it to establish that he’s honest and reliable.  In other words, the entire campaign was built on one foundation: the personality of Carl Paladino.  He made the race about himself – and his feelings about things.  He’ll “take out the trash” with a “baseball bat”.

Many voters throughout the state – especially west of the Hudson and north of Poughkeepsie – can sympathize with his feelings of anger and despair.

But good government and revolutionary change don’t arise from feelings.  They arise from policy and planning.  Running on a specific plan is great if you have a path to success.  Carl’s path involves calling everyone a m-effer and shutting the government down.  Governing through chest-thumping.

Some of you will comment by bringing up Andrew Cuomo.  Cuomo may not be a perfect person, and his platform may not contain every single thing I might want to see.  But Cuomo is a political animal who has comported himself quite admirably as Attorney General.  He knows how Albany works, and despite what you might think, he doesn’t really have a big base of support among Albany apparatchiks and hangers-on.  Andrew Cuomo pissed off the entire New York left back in 2002 when he challenged Carl McCall, then dropped out of the race while remaining on – and killing – the Liberal Party line.  He clawed his own way back to office.

It would ordinarily have been great to have a strong-willed and self-funded alternative like a Carl Paladino running against Andrew Cuomo.  I think there’s a very important debate to be had about the direction of the state of New York.  I think bold, big steps are needed to fix what ails the state, and I’m perfectly willing to listen to an argument that says “Cuomo doesn’t go far enough”.

But Carl Paladino’s platform is facile, almost impossible, sometimes unconstitutional, and completely ignores massive structural and procedural problems that could be implemented rather easily and have great impact if only there was the political will to do so. I don’t like voting for whiny bullies who have made the entire campaign about their own personal anger.  If Paladino talked more about how he’d abolish state authorities, and how he’d get buy-in from various constituencies to reduce what Medicaid covers in New York to bring it more in line with other states; if he’d talk more about how he’d press for a degree of policy autonomy for the area around New York City thus freeing upstate communities to better compete against places like “Toledo” or “Pittsburgh”; if he would discuss things like legislative reforms, a nonpartisan, unicameral, part-time legislature, the need for a constitutional convention, and provide specifics into what taxes he would reduce and what spending he would get rid of – then we could have that conversation.

Instead, Paladino continually lets his “political incorrectness” get the better of him – it makes headlines and drowns out any valid ideas he may have.  He complains that he can’t catch a break and talk issues, and blames the media – but it’s his own fault.  Quite simply, if you want to discuss Medicaid and spending, you don’t need to pander to Yehuda Levin and his antigay bigots and create a weeklong spectacle.

The only scheduled gubernatorial debate will be held on Monday evening.  This may be Carl’s last chance to make his case, but at this point it’s too late.  And while his campaign manager Michael Caputo offered to resign from the campaign, I get the sense that he’s taking the fall for a client who’s uncontrollable.  It’s hard to “manage” a megalomaniac.

In the end, if Paladino himself had focused more on the issues, then the discussion we’d be having would be issues-oriented.  Instead, Paladino is like the Eric Cartman of politics – picking fights then crying for his mom when he gets bloodied.

15 Responses to “Political Correctness”

  1. BobbyCat October 16, 2010 at 9:36 am #

    I agree with most of the analysis but not the conclusion. Let me paraphrase: If
    Carl didn’t do this, this and this, and if he didn’t say that, that and that, and if he talked about all these important issues, X, Y & Z, then he might be a viable candidate.

    If he were someone else – a man of character, or had a personality transplant and adopted a completely different strategy, he might be a viable candidate.

    Well yeaaah.

    And if pigs had wings….yada, yada….

    On the other hand, suppose that Andrew Cuomo decides to carry on his father’s legacy of nobility and fight the good fight to change the dysfunction of Albany, head on. Obama’s fight against the dysfunction of Washington is failing because he didn’t take off the gloves. Mr. Cuomo would not have that problem. Suppose Cuomo decided to really transform Albany. He’d have an huge army of New Yorkers with pitchforks behind him. What would he have to lose?

  2. Chris Smith October 16, 2010 at 9:51 am #

    If Tom Golisano hadn’t had a temper fit and changed his residency to Florida and ran the same campaign as he had in the past, well, he probably would have had a fighting chance and could have won. Instead, we got a loudmouth buffoon who isn’t as rich as he claims to be and hasn’t managed to mount much of a campaign outside of Buffalo and Niagara Falls.

  3. Brian Wood October 16, 2010 at 3:19 pm #

    If being pissed off is a qualification for governor, vote for me–early and often.

  4. DanB October 16, 2010 at 8:05 pm #

    This post is mendacity trying to pass as sophisticated analysis.
    Paladino hasn’t focused on the issues?  Really?  So when he spoke at the Republican convention back at the beginning of all this he didn’t talk about the issues?  Anyone who Googles the video can see that clearly he did.  At every opportunity he speaks about the issues – to the WSJ, Crains, the Business Council and on and on.  I heard him speak in Middletown and he spent an hour and a half speaking about almost nothing but the issues.  You can deny this if you want but it doesn’t change the truth for those who have bothered to pay attention.
    You say”
    “If Paladino talked more about how he’d abolish state authorities, and how he’d get buy-in from various constituencies to reduce what Medicaid covers in New York to bring it more in line with other states; if he’d talk more about how he’d press for a degree of policy autonomy for the area around New York City thus freeing upstate communities to better compete against places like “Toledo” or “Pittsburgh”; if he would discuss things like legislative reforms, a nonpartisan, unicameral, part-time legislature, the need for a constitutional convention, and provide specifics into what taxes he would reduce and what spending he would get rid of – then we could have that conversation.”
    Really?  We could have that converstaion?  Then why don’t we?
    Paladino has been very specific about examples of state agencies he would abolish – the MTA and APA being but two examples.  I haven’t seen you say anything about those proposals even though you seem to have plenty of time to talk about pornographic e-mails.  Oh and Cuomo?  He is running ads all over New York State saying he’ll cut the number of state agencies 20% but yet in his program he doesn’t mention even a single agency he’d cut.  He’ll simply set up a nice sounding “SAGE” commission to study to make recommendations!!!  So Paladino names names of agencies he would eliminate and Cuomo doesn’t yet according to you Paladino’s platform is “facile”.  Total BS.
    You want Paladino to get “buy in” on Mediciad cuts from “various constituencies”?!?!  Who would that be?  1199 is going to agree to cuts?  NYSNA?  The Greater NY Hospital Association?  The nursing homes?
    That is a joke.  None of those groups will ever agree to cuts which is why Cuomo, who is largely funded by exactly those groups, doesn’t propose any.    Paladino knows the State Assembly will never agree to cuts but his plan is to veto any budget that doesn’t contain such cuts and he has clearly stated this plan (watch his interview by the Wall Street Journal for example).  As long as there are enough votes in the Senate to sustain a veto and shut down the government this could finally push the rest of the legislature to get negotiate in good faith and make cutbacks to what is a hugely bloated program.  Yes that is the nuclear option and not pretty but it is an actual plan which Cuomo doesn’t have and which you and the media chose to ignore.
    Paladino isn’t talking about legislative reforms?  What rock are you living under?  He has specifically stated that he will call for a constitutional convention and will propose 8 year term limits for all state offices among other reforms.  Cuomo has the endorsement of the man who in dictatorial fashion abolished the term limits that New York City residents voted in twice.
     I could go on and on with this but there is no point (unless of course, you really do want to discuss the issues in which case lets get to it).  It is certainly true that Paladino has his shortcomings both as a person and a politician and that the campaign he has run leaves a lot to be desired.  But anyone who has watched this campaign and followed the media coverage knows that is irrelevant.  The media and Cuomo and you have wanted to avoid the issues and you have succeeded.  If you went through the Daily News, the New York Times, and the NY Post you probably couldn’t find more than 2 or 3 articles (if that) that have touched on issues over the past month.  Ditto this blog.
    The reason for that is that while there are many who would like to see New York change there are also many who want it to remain as it is.  The policies that have come out of Albany actually benefit lots of people – It should be self evident that that is why they were implemented in the first place – and they don’t want to see them change.
    And that is ok.  If people want to lobby and advocate for their own self interest there is nothing wrong with that.  Nor is there anything wrong with people supporting expansive government of the type we have in New York.  Those are perfectly legitimate positions, even if I personally disagree with them in the context of state government.
    But those people, and you Alan, should have the courage of your convictions and state forthrightly that those are the things you believe in and you don’t support Paladino because he would try to change many of them.  This hiding behind cheap gossip, porno e-mails, and a supposed (and BS) lack of issues is very dishonest, to say the least.

    • Alan Bedenko October 16, 2010 at 8:50 pm #

      Carl Paladino is a failed candidate running a failed campaign based on personality, not issues.

      If he was so eager to talk about issues, he’d have done so today, instead of motherfucking Andrew Cuomo over HUD and releasing the Candyland/Cuomoland nonsense.

      I’ll discuss issues just as soon as Carl decides the race is about more than just his anger and hatred.

  5. Eisenbart October 17, 2010 at 9:47 am #

    You know darned well if Cuomo wins nothing will change. Going to have to wait to see in the next election if there is anyone worth going to the polls for. How annoying this all is.

  6. MillardFillmore October 17, 2010 at 11:43 am #

    Paladino isn’t as rich as he claims to be? I’ve seen reports that he’s worth around $150M but I’ve never seem a place where he claims a certain richness.  Is there any support for the claim that he’s overstated his own wealth? 

  7. Peter A Reese October 17, 2010 at 12:16 pm #

    Carl on the Issues:
    ‎”Caputo said the campaign is still calculating the cost of the expansion, but he acknowledged it would cost more than the state currently spends on welfare and unemployment benefits.” http://www.buffalonews.com/city/politics/article221396.ece Great, Carl is cutting spending by 20% by increasing spending on welfare and unemployment benefits. I’m confused too.

    Carl is going to eliminate the MTA. Great! $60B operation which is responsible for the survival of the world’s graetest city. Get rid of it!

  8. Matt October 17, 2010 at 2:47 pm #

    It is a tragedy for New Yorkers that none of this election seems to be about what Andrew Cuomo will do when in office.
    As an analogy let’s say the body politic and what it provides to citizens in terms of services is the plumbing in a giant house. Palladino is a plumber who has delivered on many projects, although they were smaller. You also know Palladion cannot be left alone with your wife or kids as he has a sort of social turrets syndrome. Cuomo, on the other hand, has never actually done any plumbing, but he has been employed by a national regulatory agency responsible for making sure plumbers don’t mistreat customers. However, he is reserved and you would be comfortable letting him hang with your kids friends.As citizens, we want the plumbing to work (something Palladion seems better able to do) but he might be rude and inappropriate with your family while doing it. We have no idea if Cuomo can plumb anything, but he will probably not embarrass you or your kids.
    As Cuomo’s election seems irreversible, looking at his past suggests what he will do while in office. As Attorney General, he continued with the drumbeat of Elliott Spitzer which said that any company that is successful should be assumed to be doing something illegal, probably taking advantage of some honest, hardworking citizen. It is not that this doesn;t happen, but he seems to forget he is also the Attorney General FOR the businesses of NYS too. So it is not an unreasonable assumption to say he will be against business, as a tenet.He may surprise us, but there is nothing in his past that suggests he understands what is needed for business to prosper, or that he sees it as something that is of any importance.
    The most he ever had to do with business is when he was at HUD in the Clinton administration, where as secretary (and deputy secretary) he forced Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and lenders (through the community re-investement act) to figure out how to expand lending to people that should not be given mortgages. While the banks and Fannie and Freddie certainly did their part to maximize the ramifications of this error, the fact that Cuomo, in bullying fashion, was the genesis of the regulatory incentives to pursue risky lending for dubious borrowers. So he appears to be anti-business, and does not really understand business. Then, he is dictatorial. Now this is the only attribute he has that may be of use, save the fact we have no idea what this “dictatorial” style will be trying to accomplish.
    His support is from every union in the state, so don’t expect him to stand up to them in any way as the public-employee-union pay/pension tentacles continue to crowd out the use of tax funds for anything else. 
    In Greek irony/tragedy, Hank Greenberg, former head of AIG, forced to resign under the threat of lawsuit from the NYS AG’s office, was perhaps the single person who could have done the most to limit the fallout of the mortgage crisis, a crisis that owed a significant part if its genesis to Cuomo’s policy’s at HUD. WHen Greenberg left AIG, a company he had led since 1968, the management structure at the top was a void. Were he still there, there was a chance (no guarantee, but a chance) that all the CDS contracts written by AIG may have not happened. So Greenberg could have blunted the disastrous unanticipated consequences of Cuomo’s policy’s at HUD.
    Cuomo will not seriously attack the welfare state legacy his father perpetuated, and he is a career politician, so will do what he needs to to stay in ALbany for a long time….. Further impeding his ability to stand up to Sheldon SIlver and the rest of Albany’s dysfunctional intransigence. 
    Summarily, 4 years from now, things will be papered over in some way, and the structural problems will be bigger and more difficult to solve.

  9. Jeff October 17, 2010 at 5:08 pm #


    Just to correct a few points, Cuomo did not force Fannie and Freddie to to purchase more subprime loans, the Community Reinvest Act did which was approved by a Republican Congress. Even so the Community Reinvest Act only increased the number of subprime loans F&F were required to buy by about 4% and during the Bush administration the requirement was again raised by about 4%. Also AIG was not writing CDS contracts they were insuring them. With or without the requirements on F&F, the crisis still would have happened because of the strong economy and housing market by the early 2000’s there was nothing left to purchase but subprime mortgages. Lenders were all too happy to give mortgages because they knew the large banks were chomping at the bit to buy them and repackage them then get Moody’s to give a ridiculously high rating to nothing but junk mortgages.

    Blame of Cuomo is ridiculous, and even if you bought into the lie that increasing the requirements on F&F was a partial cause, Cuomo would fall way down on the totem pole of blame.

  10. Matt October 17, 2010 at 8:04 pm #

    Jeff, a CDS is a contract, and yes, AIG was the leading counterparty of these of these agreements, and they really took off after Hank Greenberg left. I know people who worked at AIG that left 6 months after Greenberg departed as they could see it almost immediately became a rudderless ship.
    You are absolutely right that Moody’s and the other ratingsd agencies did their part to contribute. The mortgage crisis was a combination of unintended consequences of well intentioned legislation, businesses doing what they were incented to do by the market, huge mortgage guarantors pursuing more business and profit, politicians of all parties wanting to get behind the mirage that every american should own a home, and ultimately, a completely misguided faith in the belief that real estate prices just keep going up, no matter how much or how quickly they have already risen. Everyone was involved. Andrew Cuomo played his part and Ace Greenberg from Bear Sterns played his. Homeowners played theirs, and so long as the ponzi kept going, everyone involved was happy. The entire American(Global) investment community poured a disproportionate amount of money into residential real estate because the incentives made doing it so lucrative for everyone. The CRA was a well intended piece of legislation, it just got out of hand when the banks were essentially forced to make loans they should not have made to borrowers that had no investment in their own homes. That opened the doors to others, more speculative buyers, to get into the whole flipping market.
    I take it you were working in the mortgage market and were a banker in the 1990’s

  11. Matt October 17, 2010 at 8:10 pm #

    OH yeah, Jeff, the Bush administration also played their part, as did the republicans in congress.
    What is it you have seen that Cuomo has ever done that suggests he will be anything other than extremely hostile toward business? (besides his current commercials where he says he has a plan for small businesses)
    I have kids in the state, and all I can tell them is they need to find somewhere else to start their life, because the situation in NYS is bad and getting worse, barring a seismic change in ALbany. I love Buffalo, but not everyone can work for the government or a school or be an attorney.

  12. Jeff October 17, 2010 at 9:56 pm #

    I would strongly disagree that it well intentioned actions that led to unintentional consequences. Whether or not F&F were required to purchase 48% or 56% (I may be slightly off on the actual %) it probably had little to do with the crash. It was largely based on greed and a sense of invincibility of that particular segment of the industry coupled with the ignorance on the parts of the rating agencies and AIG (you’d have to agree that Hank Greenberg taking a different tack is highly speculative). If Vegas oddsmakers were at places like Bear Stearns and Goldman Sachs they would have changed the odds when the bets were coming in on CDS not use the money to create synthetic CDOs and perpetuate the system.

    As for Cuomo, I don’t see how he has a record of hostility to business, unless you consider prosecuting companies violating the law. Cuomo has laid out an agenda, Paladino has broad ideas that aren’t really possible and as I posted in another thread I think would actually hurt WNY. The fact is Upstate is in a tough time because the region was supported by an industry that is now dying, manufacturing. However in the long run Upstate has a lot of positives in high tech development, if you have a degree in Engineer, Math or a major science there are plenty of jobs in Upstate cities, Buffalo and Rochester graduate people with such degrees at a level comparable to Boston and Raleigh-Durham. It is going to take time and an aim towards 21st century jobs, but Upstate urban areas will be in good shape.

  13. Jesse October 18, 2010 at 8:07 am #

    “good government and revolutionary change”

    Given what we know about the history of the world, I don’t think these two phrases can be considered in the same sentence.


    “This post is mendacity trying to”

    WTF does this even mean?

    Cuomo has earned the win at this point – Paladino keeps shooting himself in the nuts, I’d be surprised if more than a half-dozen women vote for him. Anyone can whine all he wants about Cuomo being “given” the election, but really, when your opposition is as clumsy as Carl, what can anyone expect?

  14. Hank October 18, 2010 at 3:29 pm #

    How has Cuomo “EARNED THE WIN”. He’s hasn’t done DICK.

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