Cuomo attacks Tea Party, embraces unions, destroying reformist rationale for his candidacy

In the view of many including me, Andrew Cuomo had already destroyed the rationale for his candidacy when, after a year of presenting himself as a leader who would fix Albany’s corrupt, dysfunctional, and overspending culture, he attended Charles Rangel’s birthday party in August and praised the corrupt octegenarian to the skies. Cuomo thus signaled in an unmistakable manner that he did not have it in him to stand against (or even apart from) the Democratic Party’s greedy and demanding constituency groups, which he must do if he is to reform Albany.

As a letter writer said to the New York Post on August 16 about Cuomo’s attendance at the birthday bash, “The gubernatorial race has not even begun in earnest, and he has already cut himself off at the knees.”

However, Cuomo’s embrace of Rangel, as a way of showing himself to be a liar, was nothing compared to what he did this week, as explained by columnist Michael Goodwin in the September 29 Post:

Panicked Cuomo retreats on reform

Andrew CUOMO rolled out his campaign with “shock and awe” boldness, promising to be a fiscal hawk and take on the unions and Albany’s culture of corruption. He insisted he shared the frustration of Tea Party voters.

And on the 13th day of the race, he blinked. My, that was fast.

Ever since Carl Paladino pulled an upset in the GOP primary on Sept. 14, Cuomo has been the deer caught in the headlights. Paladino charged at him with guns blazing, and Cuomo couldn’t decide whether to keep running as a centrist Democrat or make a left turn into the arms of the party base.

We have our answer. Cuomo has chosen the base and attacked the Tea Party.

It is a decision that could undermine the reform rationale of his campaign. Where once he vowed to fix state finances and ethics, he now signals a willingness to retreat into the swamp that has brought New York to its knees.

Even if he wins, Cuomo’s flip will make it harder to marshal broad public support to force the Legislature into agreeing to sweeping reforms. His lurch compromises his message by mixing signals of determination with accommodation.

Cuomo’s attack Monday against Paladino and the Tea Party was straight out of the partisan playbook. There was no substance, just a broad-brush smear against hundreds of thousands of New York taxpayers.

“There’s no place in New York for Tea Party politics,” Cuomo said in Harlem after meeting with black leaders unhappy with his campaign. He said, “Carl Paladino’s Tea Party … is a party that has extremist views.”

It’s a measure of his retreat that Cuomo was courting those voters two weeks ago. On Sept. 16, he insisted he was the natural candidate of angry and frustrated New Yorkers. “I’ve been saying everything you just said from the beginning of this campaign,” Cuomo said about the Tea Party message.

He added, “Tea Party voter, Democrat or Republican, and independent or conservative, I don’t think the labels matter this year … You’re going to have to cut the programs because you’re not going to be able to pay the amount.”

The new Cuomo is a sign of premature panic. Even without making a full effort to convince independents and moderates he can deliver the taxing-and-spending plans he promised, he already seems ready to cede the ground to Paladino.

His initial plan assumed that Rick Lazio would be the GOP nominee and that Cuomo could ignore him on his way to a landslide. The assumption let Cuomo focus more on building a centrist coalition rather than just winning the election.

But Paladino’s 2-1 win over Lazio, and his likely consolidation of the Conservative Party, has Cuomo’s attention. Whatever the truth of the polls, Cuomo’s hearing footsteps.

This is not the first time he has muddied the reform message. He attended the birthday party for Charlie “The Chiseler” Rangel in a bid to woo black voters, a key party faction not fully comfortable with him. His acceptance of the Working Families Party endorsement was a bid to stop a challenge from the left, despite his plans running counter to the union-based party’s reason for being.

The odds are still big Cuomo wins, but he will pay a heavy price among swing voters for making big compromises with the left wing. If he owes his victory to unions and others anti-reformers, he will have no mandate for real changes.

He won’t bear the burden alone. New York is headed over the cliff, and Cuomo was one Democrat promising to stop it.

[end of Goodwin column]

- end of initial entry -

Mike Berman writes:

Andrew Cuomo’s history should have disqualified him long before this campaign.

Jim C. writes:

Is there any evidence that God’s gift to nepotism, Andy Cuomo, has an IQ greater than 106? He speaks like a teamster, and he has no real accomplishments.

And wasn’t this bozo tied into the subprime mess?

Posted by Lawrence Auster at September 30, 2010 07:50 AM | Send

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