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Have we all gone loco in the media?
Whether we like it or not Carl Paladino received 62.09% of the primary votes casted by Republicans on September 14th. The more widely known Rick Lazio, the presumed “sane” candidate received only 37.91% of Republican votes.
Call me nuts, but as much as it may sicken us, we should acknowledge that Carl Paladino’s in-your-face ways, his candid vocabulary, political incorrectness and even his racist tinge may connect and reflect millions of New York State voters. Some in the media should step back and stop defining Mr. Paladino as “crazy” and start paying attention to how this political neophyte connects with New Yorkers from now until Election Day. Maybe, just maybe, average hard working folks will hear Paladino utter some of the same things they say at home, discuss at work and share at their houses of worship.
Am I’m missing something? Here we finally have a politician – an extreme conservative Republican one, to boot – that makes outrageous and offensive public pronouncements and we dismiss him as “crazy.” Almost every reporter with a political beat will tell you, that at one point or another, they have allowed for an office holder to go “off the record” with some outlandish pronouncements that have gone unreported.
So now we have the nominee of one of the two major parties actually being straightforward about what’s on his mind - and what does he get? A lot of established elites and political dinosaurs going nuts and denouncing him as “unqualified” and “unfit.”
If some of the reporters, columnists and editors who have received manipulative “off the record” calls from Andrew Cuomo and reported some of the things he has said, voters would probably think that the anointed Democratic nominee and presumptive next Governor is somewhat of a kook himself.
New Yorkers fantasize about honest politicians. We in the media profess to want straight answers from candidates and officeholders, but as soon as we have one as blunt as Paladino we stoke the flames of condemnation. It seems we tremble with fear and are overcome with shame. In Spanish we refer to that as “bochorno ajeno”—a sense of shame that is felt when someone else behaves or speaks in a way deemed to be politically incorrect.
As far as I know there is nothing that Mr. Paladino has said that has not been for attribution. His statements, regardless of the topic, have thus far been offensive to a variety of different people.
I can understand why the front page editors of tabloids have been screaming bold headlines against Carl. My guess is that the headline editors will be salivating for the next seven weeks in anticipation of what Carl Paladino’s next utterance will be. On the other hand, the media won’t have a chance to have the same kind of fun with Paladino’s opponent-- Mr. Cuomo’s message is overly controlled and his events are carefully orchestrated.
Carl Paladino will probably offend all of us at one point or another. We should all recognize, though, that his presence in this election cycle has already forced us to sit up straight and actually listen. Paladino was dismissed by Rick Lazio, and look at where that got the lackluster contender.
We can continue to dismiss Carl Paladino as “crazy,” but my sense is that he will start gaining popularity in the polls soon. Without a doubt, in the upcoming weeks we will see some New Yorkers from around the State’s 62 counties holding up hand painted signs declaring themselves “Crazy for Carl.”
After everything we’ve seen happen in Albany, who said you have to be sane to be leader of the asylum?