The Botched Buying of City Hall

“If we couldn’t laugh, we would all go insane.” – Jimmy Buffett

As an expat native of the Empire State, I recall introducing Appalachian mountain people in newsprint to the often comical twists of New York politics as a sidebar. In 2010, New York’s gubernatorial race featured a conservative Republican named Crazy Carl Paladino, who proceeded to run the hapless Rightie ticket into the electoral dirt of defeat in a Blue state.

A prominent political columnist for the Albany Times Union (N.Y.), Jimmy Vielkind, remarked in an email to me at the time, that the comical Paladino was “stimulus for  newspapers.” Crazy Carl even once threatened to “take out” veteran N.Y. Post political reporter Fred Dicker on camera. Paladino probably got the back yard dog house to sleep in after the race in Buffalo. Duke the Pit Bull is sleeping in his master’s side of the lit matrimonial Paladino Sealy Posturpedic.

malcolm-smith_fileWith the arrest Tuesday of Democratic Queens state Senator Malcolm Smith and a gaggle of Republican figures attempting to place the state senator as a strawman through alleged bribery in the race to replace outgoing billionaire New Yawk City Mayor Michael “Nanny King” Bloomberg (I-7-Eleven Big Gulp), it’s good to hear that Gotham politics is still the stuff of late night comedy writers. Money talks loudly in politics, but you never know if the gumshoes have a fly on your wall. No C.I.A. drones were apparently involved in the investigation leading to the arrests.

Strawman politics is usually an underhanded tactic to float a ridiculous “opponent” to insure your candidate’s overwhelming victory in a faux two-party race. The last notorious example of strawman politics was in South Carolina, a country bumpkin “galaxy far, far away” from the man-built concrete canyons of Manhattan. Then incumbent Sen. and conservative firebrand Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) coasted to reelection while his “Democratic opponent” Alvin Greene, hawked action figure dolls of himself. The reelected DeMint would soon quit his seat, without Sarah Palin whining theater, for a bigger paycheck at the conservative Heritage Foundation. DeMint was more focused on political theater than actually passing legislation. I have a Basset Hound who also feels “it’s not the having, it’s the getting,” that counts.

You just can’t make up stuff this good.

There’s no moss growing under U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s feet with the latest invite to an embarrassing perp walk. If this was north [New] Jersey, there would be a rabbi in the scandal parade with steel bracelet jewelry..  It’s Joisey.

On the Democratic side, there are gaffes galore, as well.   CIty Councilman Sal Albanese stepped on his own foot with the comment that a half-mil in income is “middle class” in the Big Apple. Check the real estate listings and the cost of living in Manhattan, and he’s unfortunately right from an accountancy standpoint, but far from politically palatable.  Even in New Yawk, sporting a gangsta pimp’s bling is a bit over the top as far as politics is concerned. If you want modesty, go to Norway. I liked it better, a century or more ago, when political operatives would buy drinks for John Q. Public’s vote.

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn  saw her name in less than flattering New York Times newsprint recently. The self-appointed Queen of Greenwich Village alleged “dragon lady” bombastic style made her look more like the late Gotham hotel magnate Leona “Queen of Mean” Helmsley than a viable potential mayor of one of the world’s biggest and most prominent cities. At least the felon Ms. Helmsley made sure her will looked out for her pooch in luxurious comfort.

For New Yorkers, there is only one “The City.” It’s serious business.

Inept gaffes have a ticket to perpetuity on YouTube and to those of us Fourth Estaters of the press. Actor Charlie Sheen, in the film Wall Street, wasn’t the only guy wearing a wire to take down the high and mighty.

Folks,  in this day and age, politics is serious business, not a comedy club stand-up joke.  The clown act is over, bring on the real candidates to serve.