Thursday, November 02, 2006

You choose, you lose

If one ever wanted to see the deep partisan divisions that have bisected society lately, they wouldn’t need to look much further than the gigantic Old Glory hanging near the Clifton Park exit on the Northway. Though the vandalism that struck this oversized flag has since been painted over, the vitriol that has simmered since the turn of the century continues to openly roil amid perhaps the ugliest of elections in recent history.

It’s us against them, they say. Choose them and you’ll lose the moral high-ground. Choose them and you’ll toss the office to a crook. Choose them and bad things will happen. No doubt, the gloves are off on this one.

First, there was the race for state comptroller, when in late September, republican candidate Chris Callaghan mysteriously unearthed evidence that incumbent watchdog Alan Hevesi was using thousands of state dollars to shuttle his sick wife around. The scandal turned the former Saratoga treasurer from a dark horse candidate without a snowball’s chance in hell to a viable challenger who, depending on voter turnout, could unseat his opponent.

As Hevesi’s numbers plummeted further last week, the state Ethics Commission gave further rebuke of the comptroller. Hollywood Joe Bruno stood up on the pulpit and raised Cain over the burgeoning scandal, calling for Hevesi’s immediate resignation; similarly, lame-duck Governor George Pataki decided to weigh in on the matter, delving out an almost equally stiff rebuke.

And then this week, the tide has apparently turned in the heavily weighted race in the 20th Congressional District after the Times Union and New York Daily News got hold of documents that allegedly prove that Congressman Kickass was kicking his trophy wife’s ass. In typical firebrand fashion, John Sweeney threatened to sue to the press for libel, then pointed the finger at directly at his challenger, democrat attorney Kirsten Gillibrand, who’s campaign he accused of fabricating the state police report released to the paper.

Of course, Sweeney supporters can revel in the fact that the congressman seems to be a proverbial alley cat when it comes to politics; he’s no less than nine lives and for some reason he always lands on his feet. He last coasted to election despite having slammed his SUV into a utility pole after chucking back hooch at Willard Mountain. No one has really cared either about the sweetheart deal his son received last year to avoid prison –ironically around the time he’s accused of throwing Gaia or Gayle around by the neck. Then there were the free ski trips, hammering beers with Union’s Alpha Delts, his connections to Abramoff, the paid trips to the Mariana Islands to support slave labor.

More than likely, Sweeney will land on his feet one more time and win the district, much to the chagrin of his opponents, who assuredly stretch much further than Camp Gillibrand. But as one political operative recently said, Sweeney’s re-election will assure only one thing: he’ll do something so unbelievably terrific that he’ll draw national attention to himself as he expends the last of his nine lives.

As for Camp Callaghan, scandal still hasn’t put him into the driver’s seat. But even if Hevesi wins re-election –which he will –there’s a good chance someone will move to take him down for his misdeeds. Call it a parting gift from Governor Protractor. Political guru Fred Dicker mentioned Thursday that Hevesi's losing the election would probably be the easiest solution to a burgeoning problem that will otherwise taint Eliot Spitzer’s impending victory for the governorship.

The big concern that voters should take from the polls this year is the fact that someone knew about both of these scandals long before they ever broke into the mainstream media. There seems to be a spigot of information that political operatives feel compelled to turn on whenever elections near, rather than when the wrongdoing is actually happen. Then, it’s a heartfelt appeal to the fickle public, as to say look what the other guy did; now you can vote for me.

This is the sort of infectious hatred seems to be eating away at political discourse whenever election time rolls around. And it’s why no one should be shocked by the profaned flag in Clifton Park, which seems oddly symbolic of the present state of our nation’s political system.


Blogger la la la I can't hear you said...

I like to write long posts too.

As the secretary of the local Dem committee, I had a nice chat today with the head of one of the local republican committies.

They had been near my house the night before putting out signs for their candidates and in the morning noticed that some of their signs were gone and some of our Gillibrand signs were also gone.

He called since he didn't want me to think that they'd taken our signs when they were putting their signs up. (Which I had thought seemed a pretty fishy concidence!)

We're going to run an ad with the leaders of both the dem and rep county committies after the election asking people not to take signs and to try to decrease some of the partisan divide.

Of course I doubt that whoever took the signs reads the newspapers, but still. It was a nice conversation.

It seems like we are all sick of acting like we are war with one another.

The thing that is the wierdest - after September 11th, I would never have thought that "United we stand" would have evaporated from our minds so quickly.

Maybe people are finally ready to act like we are on the same team again, the American team.

9:32 PM  

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