Thursday, September 02, 2010

Get off the Schneid

Wayne Barrett has a devastating attack on the manner in which he believes that State Senator Eric Schneiderman-a candidate for attorney general-is paving the way for a Republican victory in the general election should he manage to win his party's nomination. He begins with Schneiderman's obsequiousness vis a vis our pal Al Sharpton:

"While I was away on vacation last week, Al Sharpton, one of the worst tax scofflaws in New York, endorsed Eric Schneiderman for the state's top law enforcement office. No big deal. Any one of the four other Democrats running for attorney general would have, oddly, welcomed the endorsement of the man everyone presumes has great influence with New York blacks even though he got eight percent of the total vote in the state's 2004 presidential primary, barely nosing out Dennis Kucinich, and only a third of the black vote, a universe away from the 85 percent Chicago's Jesse Jackson got in NY a decade before him. Here's what astonished me. Schneiderman could have just said "Thank you, Rev." Instead, obsequious Eric said how great it was to get "the Good Housekeeping seal of approval from the man from the House of Justice," which is what Sharpton calls his National Action Network (NAN) headquarters in Harlem."

We remain shocked at how the race baiting schnorrer Sharpton has become a must get endorsement in Democratic circles-and that he is a sure sign of the ethical demise of Democrats. But Schneiderman elevated toady to new heights: "Schneiderman cited Sharpton's pursuit of justice and said he would "seek to follow that model as AG," adding: "The House of Justice will have an annex in Albany for the first time in the history of the state." It was craven excess, an unconscious declaration of how transactional Schneiderman actually sees the office he seeks. No one really expects a Sharpton cubicle in Schneiderman's office, but the AG-to-be was declaring that an organization that the current officeholder, Andrew Cuomo, investigated just two years ago would have an inside track with Schneiderman because its leader was helping to make him AG."

And, as Barrett points out, the Schneiderman-Sharpton dancing with the stars intimacy will be prime campaign fodder for the Republican AG nominee, Dan Donovan: "Republican Dan Donovan, who salivates to face Schneiderman in the fall, will throw the tape up in a statewide TV ad and probably win his own Good Housekeeping seal in November. The seal, by the way, just celebrated its 100th anniversary, and it guarantees a replacement for any defective product. Donovan may well replace the devastatingly defective alliance for justice that Schneiderman and Sharpton are peddling."

But on one hand you got to give Schneiderman credit for ideological purity. At a time when the electorate is moving in a more centrist direction-and when Albany budget woes and dysfunction are prime issue-Eric is moving steadfastly in the direction of progressive purity. A tactic that may win him the nomination, but will make it very difficult in this year to capture the state's top law enforcement position.

But an embrace of the National Action Network may prove to be the kiss of death: "So the organization with a prospective annex in Schneiderman's office is extending one defiant middle finger in the direction of the same office, and Schneiderman is so oblivious to his potential oversight responsibilities he is giving the House of Justice his own Good Housekeeping seal of approval. Starting with Bob Abrams a couple of decades ago, New York State attorney generals have been more interested in Sharpton's possible crimes than his advice."

Barrett goes on to ridicule the NY Times for its praise of Schneiderman's miraculous Independence from Albany's culture of corruption: "Am I missing something? The New York Times endorsed Schneiderman, as did The Nation. He's supposed to be the progressive hero in this divided field, a reformer who has proven his willingness to take on the powers-that-be. The Times actually said in its endorsement that Schneiderman had "again bucked his own party leadership" when he pressed a domestic violence case against State Senator Hiram Monserrate, forcing him from office. No one has fairly credited the Times in recent years for its sense of humor. In fact, Schneiderman helped install John Sampson as chairman of the Democratic conference a few months before the Monserrate vote and Sampson was at the Sharpton endorsement, just as he has been again and again at Schneiderman campaign events. He is one of Schneiderman's loudest backers."

And the Monserrate "trial," was in fact a device that was crafted by senate leadership-with Sampson designating Schneiderman to head it up: "Schneiderman so boldly broke with his leadership that he joined virtually the entire Democratic delegation in the Monserrate vote, making it apparently an entire conference of renegades all worthy of higher office no doubt. Charades are rarely offered as rationales in Times endorsements, a reflection of how thin the actual reform resume is for the paper's new "independent" icon."

But the role of public employee unions is going to be front and center in this fall's election-and the NY Times, in true Pravda fashion, has airbrushed Eric's positions and relationships: "The easiest way to tell the Times is just kidding is when it uses the word "bucked," because it is so stuck on that phrase that the Eric endorsement rolled it out again to say Schneiderman took on the powerful public employee unions, who apparently like legislators who buck them so much that they all endorsed him anyway. Maybe it is a new use of the term and has something to do with how many "bucks" these impressionable unions are giving Schneiderman now."

And what about the out-of-control public employee pensions? Once again the Times misconstrues and misleads: "The only Times evidence of Schneiderman's supposedly "bucking" the unions was his support of "a less costly pension plan for new state employees." In fact, as the Times itself reported, the unions jumped at the Paterson pension deal, which bound the state to a no-layoff, no-furlough, no pay-raise-deferral policy. "The agreement," said the Times in 2009, "requires legislative approval, but endorsements by the governor and the labor unions virtually assure success." Now legislative approval of this deal -- which was virtually unanimous -- has been elevated to a badge of courage for Schneiderman, proving his stiff spine in the face of union pressure."

This is a profile in courage? We can imagine Republican Donovan secretly contributing to Schneiderman's campaign-drooling at the prospect of facing the most left wing of the four potential nominees: "Can you manage the beers hoisted at union halls when they got the news that their boy Eric was getting both them and the key editorial board that thinks public officials should be independent of the unions? It's a touching triumph of paradox in a time of peril, when pensions and other costs threaten the viability of state government."

So Schneiderman will, if he manages to win a low turn out primary, be running with the mantle of support from Al Sharpton and the public employee unions-along with a decade long record of having served in Albany and no law enforcement background. Should he win, that traditional move to the middle from the primary to the general election will be the equivalent of Chairman Mao's Long March-with the Democratic Party as Chiang Kai-shek's Kuomintang.