Last night, Trudy and I had the opportunity to attend the seven-way New York gubernatorial debate, which took place at Hofstra University in Long Island. Getting there was an adventure – Trudy drove down to my office in Manhattan, turned the steering wheel over to me, and we did manage to make it to the arena on time, despite the horrific traffic on the Long Island Expressway (which truly earns its sobriquet of “the world’s biggest parking lot”).
Attending the debate in person was a different experience than watching it on television, though there were several huge screens allowing us to see the candidates close up.
Trudy and I had excellent seats near the middle, in the sixth row. We saw our local district attorney, Janet DiFiore, in attendance, and Karen, a friend from church, who was there with the League of Women Voters.
It was interesting to see how the hosts, Hofstra University, together with Cablevision’s News 12 and Long Island’s Newsday newspaper, managed to fill in the floor seats of those invitees who couldn’t get there on time. There were a few hundred extras, invited by the University, seated in the stadium seating to the rear, who were poised to fill in, which explains why all the invitees had to be in our seats well before the debate began.
Cell phones not only had to be silent, they had to be completely off, though I bet that I could have gotten away with “airplane mode,” since the reason announced was that cell signals could interfere with some of the equipment. I did not, however, chance testing that hypothesis.
While we were supposed to sit quietly through the debate, there were instances during which some of the crowd erupted in impermissible applause. I did not succumb to the temptation, even though I do have a habit of muttering at the television when watching similar events from the comfort of my home.
It seems like the mainstream media take on the debate was to ignore the minor party candidates, except to the extent that they could add some “color” (and I don’t mean race) to the proceedings. Charles Barron, Kristen Davis, and to a lesser extent Warren Redlich, all managed to provide some sound bites for a media that ignores the rest of their message. Jimmy McMillan was a one-man comic relief. Sadly, one of the best candidates in the crowd, who stayed on message the whole night, the Green Party’s Howie Hawkins, did not get much of a mention at all from the MSM.
Here’s my scoring: Howie Hawkins, the Green Party candidate, got an “uptick” on my scoresheet on every response segment, making him the clear winner of last night’s New York gubernatorial debate, with a grade of 12 out of 12. If the debate was the only factor in my voting decision, Mr. Hawkins would be my choice for Governor. It’s actually too bad that the media is not paying him any attention.
Andrew Cuomo, clearly trying to stay calm and not make any mistakes, managed to make it to 2nd in my scoring, with 7-1/2 out of 12 upticks, while only managing two downticks – one of which was for his limited support of hydrofracking. Still, when I take his debate score, and give him extra credit for his experience and proven ability, he’s still going to get my vote.
In a strong third, Eliot Spitzer’s former madam, Kristen Davis, made a strong showing with 6 out of 12 upticks and only two downticks. It’s clear that if something happened to both Andrew and Howie between now and election day, she’d actually get my vote.
Charles Barron, the one-dimensional Freedom Party candidate, managed 3/12 upticks, and only 4 downticks. I was most disappointed with his inability to perceive that there are other disadvantaged minorities out there. His good points are outweighed by his negatives, particularly his purported “neutrality” on marriage equality (“the Freedom Party does not have a position” on that issue, indeed). None of us are truly free until we are all free -
Carl Paladino managed 1-1/2 upticks, and, while that’s technically a tie for last on upticks alone, he did have fewer absolute downticks (4) than the last two. Carl gets a special mention (and an entire uptick!) for his head-shaking gesture, followed by a pause and the query, “Is this a rebuttal?” in response to a scurrilous attack by the whiny libertarian, whose apparent aim, aside from whining (did I mention he was really whiny?) was to shill for the Republican congressional down-ticket, as if he has them on his own coattails.
The rather strange gentleman with the interesting beard, Jimmy McMillan, sitting between Carl Paladino and Andrew Cuomo, with his rambling, punctuated by his “the rent is too damn high” message, still managed to get 1-1/2 upticks (the full tick being for his closing statement, and the half for being in favor of marriage equality (the lost half-tick on that came from his apparent willingness to let a fetishist marry a shoe). Every time he spoke, I listened in almost rapt horror, as a torrent of disconnected verbiage washed over me.
The libertarian whiner, Warren Redlich, somehow managed to get 1-1/2 upticks with 5 downticks. His single strongest point had to do with capping bureaucratic pay. Though technically tied for last with Carl Paladino and Jimmy McMillan, it appears from my scoresheet analysis that he did, in fact, come in dead last when I factor in the downticks. Perhaps there is a place for him at “Cheers;” there really isn’t any place for him in government. I’m most disappointed, because my own political philosophy is what I might call lowercase, or “small-l”(that’s “ell”) libertarian. Big-L Libertarians like this gentleman seem to crawl out from under rocks to bay at the moon.
The bottom line? Despite Howie Hawkins’ strong showing, the biggest news seems to be that neither Andrew Cuomo nor Carl Paladino did themselves any real harm. I grant Carl scores low with me, primarily because I disagree with him on so much. But for those who agree with him, he did not shoot himself in the foot. It may be that he learned something from his Yehuda Levin experience.