In the political world we now live in there are certain personal characteristics that seem to have blossomed. Forgive me for using a pretty word for it, since the blossoming in this case is the type that leads to dandelions, crab grass and poison ivy.
Last Saturday’s performance by comedian Michelle Wolf at the White House Correspondents Dinner certainly hit a nerve with many people. Margaret Sullivan, former editor of the Buffalo News and currently the media columnist for the Washington Post, had an excellent article yesterday suggesting that for the sake of journalism the Correspondents Dinner should be discontinued. I am no fan of Sarah Huckabee Sanders, but the personal attacks on Sanders by Wolf were offensive.
Which is not to say, however, that the commentary doesn’t fit neatly into Washington politics in 2018. The President of the United States revels in over-the-top personal attacks on all sorts of people. He is rude and crude and offers no respect for anyone outside of those who currently suit his purposes. His minions and loyalists seem to cheer this lack of common decency that we as a nation have come to expect from the president. Donald Trump consistently follows the politically correct game plan that his supporters so love, trashing anyone who challenges him. The problem is, he can dish it out but he can’t take it. President Snowflake.
Trump’s list of people thrown under the bus includes many of the “best people” he brought into his administration. There have been forty or fifty victims that we know of so far, ranging from cabinet officers to personal friends (and attorneys) to the relatively unknown and often unqualified characters that follow a winning campaign into public office. All of them, of course, were found by Fearless Leader to be bad, misinformed, stupid, and so forth as they were thrown under the bus. Which in some cases may be true, and in some cases may just be Trump rationalizations for his bizarre personnel management.
On the state level we have currently been observing a smaller, less vitriolic version of bus throwing, centered at the moment on whatever plans Governor Andrew Cuomo has for Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. Cuomo is certainly more diplomatic about such things than Donald Trump might be (“I’m supportive of whatever Kathy wants to do”). But nonetheless Cuomo sure seems to be intent on throwing Hochul under the bus.
The question is, why?
Hochul has been a hardworking and loyal member of the Cuomo administration, traveling hither and yon from Niagara Falls to Montauk for the past three and a half years. By all accounts her performance has been appreciated by state legislators and local officials she has worked with.
Raise your hand if you know who Jumaane Williams is. Don’t feel bad if you didn’t know that he is a City Councilman from Brooklyn who wants to run for lieutenant governor as part of the Cynthia Nixon ticket.
Apparently the mere threat of Williams running is scaring the Cuomo team, making them perhaps think that they must counter the threat by running someone from New York City and/or an African-American or a Hispanic-American rather than an Irish-American woman from Erie County.
All of that presupposes that John and Jane Public either know or care who the lieutenant governor is. The offices of governor and lieutenant governor are selected separately in primaries – a stupid but nonetheless constitutional arrangement. The two offices run as a ticket in November.
In the past forty-five years there have been eleven lieutenant governors of New York, which demonstrates that job security is not a selling point for the job. When it comes to Cuomo trying to angle Hochul off the ticket, whatever happened to “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it?”
One more point about Cuomo and Hochul. Given a variety of things such as Hochul’s extremely close loss to Chris Collins in 2012, in the most Republican congressional district in the state; plus a positive public record; plus the ability and willingness to work hard, Kathy Hochul, in 2018, would have certainly been the best possible candidate against Collins. Filing deadlines, however, have passed.
There’s just one other thing. Hochul has worked for and represented Cuomo for nearly four years. If there is one part of the state where Cuomo will struggle mightily this year, it will be in the 27th congressional district. Andrew Cuomo would have been a major drag on a Hochul-for-Congress campaign. Enough of a drag to be pretty much impossible to overcome.
The question of transparency
Every day that goes by makes it clearer and clearer that Donald Trump is hiding his tax returns because they have an incredible story to tell about his business relationships in Russia – something that Donald Jr. revealed ten years ago. It is the only way to explain why Mr. Insult has never, ever said a bad word about Vladimir Putin.
You would think, given the attention that Trump’s lack of transparency generates, that the political downside of the situation would suggest others running for major offices would go out of their way to be transparent. Think of the race for governor of New York this year.
Cynthia Nixon is running in the Democratic primary for governor as the pure liberal, but when it comes to transparency she has so far been more like Donald Trump than Cynthia-the-progressive. The New York Daily News reports that Nixon has thus far declined to release her 2017 tax returns, claiming that she has filed for an extension and the returns are not completed.
But of course, even if you file for an extension on your tax return you need to pay your taxes and, as noted by the Daily News, disclose some basic information to the IRS like the “total 2017 payments, her balance that is due the feds, and the amount she is paying.” Nixon now says that she will release the filing extension documentation this week while indicating that her tax preparation is complicated because she files in nine states. Gee, just like the average New Yorker.
Marcus Molinaro, the presumptive Republican candidate for governor, has also failed to publicly release his 2017 tax returns thus far. He says that he has filed the returns but hasn’t released them because, according to the Daily News, “we just want to make sure we have all the information accurate for you.” But of course, if you have already filed your returns we would hope that they were accurate no later than the April 17th filing deadline. All you need is a computer to attach the files, or a copy machine, Marcus. Ahh, so Trumpian.
Andrew Cuomo has released his 2017 tax returns.
And one more thing
Joel Giambra may be out of luck. Former Guardian Angels leader and current Chairman of the New York State Reform Party, Curtis Sliwa, is indicating that he may choose himself to be the party’s candidate for governor rather than nominating Giambra, provided that Sliwa’s doctor gives him medical clearance to run. Wonder if either of them will release their tax returns.