If voting made any difference they wouldn’t let us do it.
– Mark Twain
Ah, Samuel Clemens; a man for all seasons. But this is his season, isn’t it? Autumn. This is when America hums. Football. Elections. Halloween. Beer tastes better. Women feel warmer. Sweaters. Wood burning. Ebola. Good times.
I was going to write about the passing of Ben Bradlee this past week Only fitting. This is a man who helped orchestrate the cynical age in which I was reared; all that fear and dubious turns of authority, the unmasking of trite myths like “leaders have all the answers, just shush, take your medicine and let us run things” mentality that was flushed down the shit tubes by the mid-’70s when on any given day there was a hijacking or bombing or half-assed attempt on the life of a ranking official. My childhood come to life.
Do you realize that in 1973, when I was 10 years old and beginning to become aware of current events—having just endured a summer of constant coverage of the president of the United States being accused of overt criminal activities—there were 24 terrorist bombings in the United States. The next year, 45, and in 1975, 89. The newspapers were filled with the horrible results of the Church Committee hearings in which the Central Intelligence Agency finally fessed up to decades of assignations, coup de tats and secret wars to cause unrest in nations all over the globe and the place despots in charge of third-world counties to keep the price of bananas down.
This was the shit-storm of my political awakening; when Ben Bradlee’s post as Executive Editor of the Washington Post decided, along with the NY Times, to print the lies of the Pentagon for over a decade of shenanigans in Viet Nam that eventually cost almost 60,000 American lives and $140 billion (worth about $950 billion now) of our tax dollars. His defense of Woodward and Bernstein’s brave reporting took down a president and blah, blah, blah. Bradlee was my hero because he had no inner editor. He blurted stuff out no sane man ever would, whether drunk or sober, and he never apologized for it. He called the attorney general of the United States a “fuck-head” over the phone and once at a Georgetown mixer made Patrick Moynihan cry. His kind would be lost today, and so that’s all I have to say about that.
What I came to write about is what everyone that visits this space wants to read and that’s my overall observations on last week’s gubernatorial debate between a Libertarian candidate, a Green Party one, the sitting governor Andrew Cuomo and my friend, Republican challenger, Rob Astorino.
I was proud of Rob. He stood his ground and hit Cuomo hard. For Cuomo’s part I think he held his own. As objective as I can be; I think Cuomo did enough to stem the tide. I don’t think by any measure it was neither a strong showing nor a disastrous one. I will say this; it is still a long shot that my friend will win this election, but I am fairly certain after witnessing that performance that Cuomo is a piker. His smoldering angst and monosyllabic back-and-forth will doom him nationally. He speaks as if he were scalping Metallica tickets in an alley. He is anything but big time and certainly no Chris Christie, who if properly coached in the esthetic of the campaign trail, could end up being a dangerous man. Cuomo is uncoachable. He even blew the lines he was no doubt repeatedly prompted to deliver. He should be grateful for his last name and the legacy he piggybacked. Running New York State is as far as he goes.
I think Rob can still go places. He is not going to get skunked here. This was his Plan B—either win, great, or get pummeled and finish out his term as Country Executive and then back into broadcasting, to which he is best suited—his ability to communicate has always been brilliant—or hold his own and perhaps run for Congress someday. The latter is apparently going to happen. For this is a campaign that has gotten no help from that stammering weasel, Reince Priebus, or the gutless national wing of the Republican Party, and not one endorsement or appearance by the neighboring GOP governor.
Sources tell me that a deal was brokered between Christie and Cuomo, since the NY Democratic governor has curiously not joined the dog-pile on the Washington Bridge controversy in exchange for Christie staying out of New York politics. Not saying this type of buddy-system is wrong, just saying. And with all of that ill wind blowing in his face, Astorino is not going to get his ass kicked and might still pull out an 11th hour coup, à la George Pataki. Some of Pataki’s 1994 people have hinted as much on numerous occasions. This is Rob’s best hope, which is at least doable.
Having said that, the only minor observations I have about the national scene this mid-term season is that the Democrats are going to lose the Senate, effectively putting the kibosh on whatever lame duck meandering is left of the Obama presidency, which will predictably lead to an executive order surrounding some kind of amnesty for illegal aliens. The results of this will be fought in 2016, if anyone has the balls to kick at that hornet’s nest.
Not saying Republicans deserve this windfall, anymore than they did in ’94 or 2010, as did Democrats in ’96 or 2006. This is the pendulum swing; the plodding exercise for “the new guy,” which perplexed the great Mark Twain over a century ago and still bends my mind today. The GOP will almost certainly give back the Senate in 2016, as Democrats tends to only vote in presidential elections and Madam Shoo-In will ride high on whatever nonsense this new legislative branch rears on the republic over the next two years.
I wish my friend all the luck in the world, if he happens to pull off this unlikely upset. I’ll be there in the scrum of his Election Night gathering; lucky hat and all. Hey, I know little to nothing about New York politics anymore. I did my time in that godforsaken state. I have my problems here with whatever anguished dink keeps calling my phone for some insipid town hall meeting that mucks up the phone lines so my bookie can’t get through and I am unable to call the cops on the babbling drunks across the lake.