Wednesday, April 08, 2009


Look who thinks we want him back -- Rudy Giuliani's backup in the 2000 New York Senate race, Rick Lazio:

Rick Lazio will speak at the annual dinner of the Monroe County Conservative Party, with Chairman Thomas Cook billing the former congressman as "the next governor... He's for lower taxes, less government, personal responsibility, individual initiative, public safety.... The theme is that Rick Lazio is conservative enough."

Cook also calls Lazio

smart, articulate, hardworking, clean, charming....

"Charming"? I think New Yorkers who remember one particular debate between Lazio and Hillary Clinton in 2000 would dispute that:

You perhaps witnessed the moment and the act that may very well cost Rick Lazio the race for Daniel Patrick Moynihan's seat in the United States Senate.

It came at the very end of his first televised debate with Hillary Clinton the evening of September 13. Lazio manfully strode across the stage to within a few feet of Hillary’s lectern. He thrust a piece of paper at her and demanded that she sign it. He pointed his finger at her as if he were a prosecutor and she the defendant in the dock.

...Whenever people talked about that debate they talked about the moment Lazio crossed the stage with the piece of paper and pointed at Hillary.

Particularly women. Women talked about that moment a lot. Women who already favored Hillary talked about it and said, "See!" My daughter Rachel, a Buffalo attorney, was one. She called us immediately after the debate and said, "Did you see what he did? He grins and then he attacks her?" A few days later she sent me an email about it: "I just kept thinking that he was going to get violent or make the situation even more unbearable than it was. It made me really uncomfortable to watch and you could just see the discomfort in her face. It was very intimidating not just for Hillary, but for me as a viewer."...

That was a widespread reaction. But Lazio didn't get it -- his first response was to accuse his critics of sexism. As late as last year he was telling Fox's Shepard Smith that he was the victim of the public's skewed perceptions:

... I do regret leaving the podium. I think it was a mistake, mostly because of the perception on the part of the viewers, you know, that somehow -- it wasn't me, I think, for folks that knew me, they knew me as somebody who played very fair, but in this situation it created a misperception that somehow I was trying to intimidate her.

What's Rick been doing lately? Well, most recently he's been a VP and lobbyist at JPMorgan Chase. Prior to that he was the president and CEO of the Financial Services Forum, a position for which he was

selected by the members of the Forum which includes the chief executive officers of AIG, Allstate, American Express, Bank of America, Bank of New York, Bank One, Citigroup, Edward Jones, Fidelity, First Union, FleetBoston, GE Capital, The Goldman Sachs Group, Household International, J.P. Morgan Chase, Merrill Lynch, MetLife, Morgan Stanley, Prudential, State Street, and USAA.

Oh, and here's a speech he gave to the American Enterprise Institute in 2001, in which he praised the Gramm-Leach-Bliley financial deregulation act as

a monumental accomplishment that has, and will continue, to benefit both consumers and providers of financial services.

In fact, his only complaint was that, in the two years after Gramm-Leach-Bliley had become law, not nearly enough non-bank companies had "taken advantage of the strategic freedom authorized by the Act" by becoming financial holding companies. I'd be curious to hear his thoughts on that subject now.

This is the next governor of New York? Even with a weakened Democratic incumbent, I think not.

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