Tuesday, May 12, 2009


There's nothing wrong with running a hard hitting, even below the belt hitting, campaign in politics. It's often through this kind of forceful advocacy that the public gets to really understand the personalities and the issues in every election cycle. Drama and accusational confrontation grabs the attention and forces contenders to defend themselves-and to counterattack, thereby exposing weaknesses (and policies) that might never come to the surface.

And then there's the Bloomberg campaign; flush with unlimited cash and the ability to dig up unlimited amounts of innuendo, it can function as a stealth attack machine-casting aspersions without having the candidate anywhere near the dirty disclosures. Which is exactly what it has done in its effort to intimidate Congressman Weiner.

As the NY Times underscores this morning: "Like clockwork, the calls from reporters arrive around 4 p.m., sending Representative Anthony D. Weiner’s staff members scurrying to defend their boss. Did Mr. Weiner solicit campaign contributions from foreign fashion models, asked one reporter. Was his fight to save a hospital a political favor for a donor, asked another.“It is just every single day,” Mr. Weiner said. “It’s surreal.”But the last straw, he said, was an article in The New York Post claiming that he had repeatedly skipped votes in Congress to play hockey in New York — a claim that his staff denied."

So what we have here is the worst example of negative campaigning; one that postures-with the mayor literally and figuratively above the fray (on top of buildings, no less) with tens of millions of dollars of ads that flood the airwaves with a rose colored view of Mike Bloomberg's stewardship of the city, while at the same time digging in the dirt to intimidate Weiner into perhaps refraining from running at all.

This, to us, makes the mayor the ultimate guttersnipe-someone who allows his campaign to get as nasty and as dirty as possible, while the candidate himself pretends that he's all about the city's best interests-and is above partisan political fighting. What this is, however, is simply gross -hypocrisy-with the NY Post acting as unindicted co-conspirator: "Mr. Weiner said that despite backing away from plans to run for mayor this year, he remains the target of a well-orchestrated smear campaign that can be traced to the re-election bid of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. The mayor, he said, is running “the most consistently and relentlessly negative campaign that I and many people I know have seen.” Mr. Weiner characterized the research behind critical news articles about him as “daily Dumpster diving.”

So by all means, let's have a brass knuckles style negative campaign; but one where the candidate who has purchased as much support as is humanly possible, comes right out into the arena to hit his opponent with whatever accusation that he feels the public deserves to know about his opponent. Not a campaign where some little hired trollop gets to talk trash while her billionaire political companion smiles somewhere above the fray: "Jill Hazelbaker, a spokeswoman for the Bloomberg campaign, would not address Mr. Weiner’s claim that the campaign was behind the negative press. “This is an argument between Anthony Weiner and the New York press corps,” she said. “If he chooses to play hockey instead of doing his job in Washington, if he chooses to accept questionable campaign contributions, if he chooses to put press conferences ahead of passing legislation, then it’s no one’s fault but his own when reporters write about those choices.”

Dishonest to the very end! And the Post, which continues to flack for the Bloomberg control of the schools, is losing its reason for existence as an independent voice, there to inform the public and not take sides on behalf of someone with the kind of money Bloomberg has to misinform the folks all on his own. The shilling for Bloomberg in this kind of environment of monetary disparity is a disgrace. It's bad enough that the mayor is doing this; but there's no excuse for the press aiding and abetting him-it's anti-democratic piling on that makes a total mockery of an open electoral process.