In the aftermath of last Tuesday's primary, a number of political observer's were quoted on what the results meant for the general election-but one man's comments, former senator Al D'Amato, struck us as glaringly inappropriate. Not for what he said, mind you, but for the way in which the press went to him for his perspective and failed to characterize his current political status accurately. Here's a taste of what we're talking about from Saturday's NY Times: "Alfonse M. D’Amato, a Republican who was a United States senator, said Mr. Cuomo was “viewed as a slam dunk” while Mr. Paladino was “viewed as an eccentric — and I’m saying that kindly — businessman.” Mr. D’Amato said he was not supporting any Republican for governor. “I have great respect for the attorney general,” he said. “I think he’s done an outstanding job.”
Unsurprisingly, at least for those of us who know the former senator's traits, D'Amato is lying through his teeth-and, as is his right, supporting Cuomo with gusto. But what most egregious in this sham, is the fact that Big Al is nothing more today than another Albany/Washington lobbyist-and to not identify him as such is to mislead.
As the NY Times has reported: "The undisputed king of New York’s Republican Party until his 1998 defeat, Mr. D’Amato became a lobbyist during the administration of his protégé, Gov. George Pataki. Then, even deals that spawned negative publicity - Mr. D’Amato was famously paid $500,000 for making a single telephone call that helped a client win a lucrative lease from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority — only bolstered his reputation for getting results."
Make no mistake about it, D'Amato is no grey eminence-unlike the garrulous former mayor Koch who has gone way past his sell by date, but at least is more or less speaking from his heart. That is why, however, it was a mistake for Koch, and former state comptroller McCall, to co-sign a letter attacking Paladino's qualifications: "The victory of Carl Paladino in the Republican Primary was a disappointing day for all New Yorkers. This state has a long history of electing highly qualified, forward-looking statewide candidates - both Democrats and Republicans. Yesterday, however, anger overcame reason and enabled a fringe element to choose the Republican nominee. The end result was the selection of Mr. Paladino, a divisive figure simply not fit to lead this great state."
Of the three co-signers, it is D'Amato who will be in a position to personal gain from the Paladino trashing-and Ed Koch who claims he is seeking to clean up Albany should know better than to get in bed with someone like Pothole Al. And we were flabbergasted by the following comments from the Three Amigos' letter: "We need a governor who can take on the special interests, not one who is a special interest. We also need a governor who will bring New Yorkers together to take on our common challenges, not drive us apart. Through his own words and actions Carl Paladino has proven himself unfit to serve as Governor - he is exactly the wrong person to lead our state."
Now, one can argue over whether Cuomo's embrace of the WFP is a more intimate embrace of special interests than the actions of developer Paladino-and it's an argument worth having; but to have Mr. Special Interests co-sign a letter attacking someone for being beholden to them, is a violent disregard for truth in advertising statues. And the press should have been all over this fraud-but weren't because of a possible animus against a seemingly course outsider.
There is much to question about both candidates in the upcoming six weeks-but little light will be shed on the qualifications of the candidates by asking for the opinion of insider Al D'Amato. Al should only be a source for opprobrium..