Am I the only one who sat through tonight’s one and only Gubernatorial debate?
For those of you who made the wiser choice to turn to the Yankee game (I taped it) or watch their fingernails grow, let me summarize it for you: One of the weirdest Saturday Night Live skits you’ve ever seen.
In addition to Democrat Andrew Cuomo and Republican Carl Paladino, the crowded stage included such candidates as ex-Black Panther Charles Barron of the Freedom Party, former “Manhattan Madam” Kristin Davis of the Anti-Prohibition Party and Jimmy McMillan of the “Rent is Too Damn High!” Party. All were given equal time.
Contrary to expectations, Paladino came across not as a snarling, gay-bashing nut job, but as an ill-at-ease, inept bungler way over his head.
The surprise of the evening was Warren Redlich of the Libertarian Party, who seemed sane and thought-provoking. When asked about how to improve education in NY, he spoke about his school district upstate that recently laid off about 25 teachers and an equal number of assistants, but not a single administrator, referring to the state’s policy as the “No Administrator Left Behind” program.
Continuing his assault on waste and misplaced priorities, he cited such examples as the well-compensated ”Commission on Public Integrity” that meets once a month, with their mission to “ensure compliance with the ethical standards that public officials and lobbyists must meet.”
Redlich then turned to the audience and inquired “How’s that working out for you?” He suggested he could meet once a month with “Howie” (Howard Hawkins of the Green Party seated beside him) for $300, a six pack and a pizza, and do a better job than these bureaucrats. I believed him.
Meanwhile, McMillan answered every question, whether on the subject of education, real estate, the MTA or the environment, with a relentless retort: “The Rent is Too Damn High!”
The discussion about waste and fraud at the MTA was highlighted by former madam Davis’ response, who said “The only differences between my former business and the MTA are: I operated with only one set of books, and my agency delivered on time and reliable service.”
By the end of the one and 1/2 hour “debate”, many in the audience, which was well-behaved and attentive at the beginning, became totally punchy, anticipating and joining McMillan in his “the rent is too damn high!” mantra.
Despite this circus, I’m trying not to become totally cynical. Maybe someday we will again actually be able to choose between two qualified, viable candidates.
I have to admit that watching this actually made me smile and sometimes laugh out loud, to which I am grateful. But afterwards the sad truth hit me–the joke is definitely on us.