COME ON, DEMOCRATS, THIS ISN'T THAT DIFFICULT
Id-driven racist Carl Paladino sent out a Palin-on-steroids open letter to New York gubernatorial rival Andrew Cuomo yesterday in which he insulted Cuomo and challenged the Democrat's masculinity ("Come out and debate like a man"). Paladino also has a Shepard Fairey-style image of Cuomo on his Web site that's accompanied by the Palinesque caption NO COJONES.
Now, Cuomo was 37 points ahead of Paladino in the most recent Quinnipiac poll and is 16 points ahead of him in the latest Rasmussen poll (which almost certainly means he's up by at least 20). Cuomo also should benefit from the fact that the defeated Establishment GOP candidate, Rick Lazio, doesn't plan to drop out of the race -- he'll appear on the battle on the Conservative Party line and siphon off a few votes from Paladino.
And yet, as Politico's Maggie Haberman notes, Paladino has clearly gotten under Cuomo's skin, with the result being this New York Daily News article:
Stung by Carl Paladino's below-the-belt attacks, an angry Andrew Cuomo summoned his war council on Monday to figure out how to fight back against his slash-and-burn GOP rival.
"If a guy says you have no cojones, how do you punch him back, call him an a--hole?" the Democratic gubernatorial candidate fumed in a secret talk to his team, one insider said.
"We have all this stuff [on Paladino] and we're on the defensive," Cuomo groused, the insider added....
Oh, good grief.
Look -- it's obvious, as Haberman says, that Cuomo wanted this angry outburst in the news ("word of Cuomo wanting to call Paladino 'an a--hole' getting out publicly may have accomplished the Democrat's aim of saying what he wanted through other people"). But why, Andrew, why? As New York magazine's Dan Amira notes, this plays right into Paladino's hands:
You can picture Paladino smiling as he reads the paper today: "Yes, Andrew. Let the hate flow through you."
So it looks like this race will probably get uglier and uglier as it goes on, which should be quite comfortable for the outspoken, nothing-to-lose Paladino. In fact, he seems to be having a ball.
Right. Cuomo is now playing Paladino's game.
And why? Obviously, it's because Cuomo's a Democrat, and when you attack a Democrat on gender, you hit a nerve, because virtually every Democrat feels vulnerable on those grounds.
Well, screw that. Listen, Andrew: just stay cool and go after Paladino on what's supposed to be his strength. You see, he's not really a tough guy -- he's just a mouthy guy. He says he can kick ass, which is an infantile turnoff to some people (especially women), and there's no evidence he actually can kick ass, which you can make a turnoff to everyone else (especially men).
Here's your ad. Do the classic belittling imagery of the opposing candidate -- a photograph of Paladino's head imposed on a cartoonish cardboard-cutout body that's windmilling its fists as if preparing for a brawl. For audio, put some sub-verbal Moe/Curly/Larry fight-oriented muttering in the background.
Now mix in a few lines from your own current TV ad. Here's the voiceover:
On behalf of the people of New York, Andrew Cuomo took on greedy bankers. Carl Paladino? He's all talk.
Andrew Cuomo took on abusive insurance companies and crooked politicians. Carl Paladino? All talk.
If you want a candidate who talks about fighting all the time, Carl Paladino's your guy.
But if you want a candidate who knows that talk is cheap, if you want a candidate who's actually fought real battles for real New Yorkers, then vote Andrew Cuomo for governor.
It ain't perfect, but come on -- can't you do this, Andrew? Can't you make yourself look tough and grown-up, while making Paladino look like a barroom blowhard? Do you (and every other Democrat) have to get rattled whenever your masculinity/femininity (hello, Hillary) is questioned?
Oh, and why is Cuomo hesitating on a debate? The News explains:
Cuomo ... pushed the possibility of just one debate, limited to Paladino and Conservative Party candidate Rick Lazio.
Cuomo believes Paladino wants to open the debate up to minor-party candidates, including former Black Panther Charles Barron (D-Brooklyn), who is a city councilman, and former madam Kristin Davis, who is linked to the Eliot Spitzer prostitution scandal and is being handled by Paladino adviser Roger Stone.
It was suspected Barron and Davis would take aim at the front-running Democrat in an open debate, insiders said.
Well, just take that chance, Andrew -- and figure out a debate format, and a few subtle barbs, that prompt Paladino to go off half-cocked. Or just work the notorious Paladino e-mails into your opening statement.
And yes, you read right: Roger "Citizens United Not Timid," he of the long GOP resume and Nixon tattoo, has two candidates in this race. Yeah, the tea party movement has certainly made this a whole new Republican Party, right?