Tuesday, October 21, 2014

NYT Endorses Cuomo in Hope that He Will Do Things He Will Never, Ever Do

As was inevitable, the New York Times editorial board finally endorsed Andrew Cuomo for re-election.  The Times had sat out the primary. They endorsed Tim Wu, Zephyr Teachout's running mate, but refused to endorse Teachout.

In their primary non-endorsement, the Times editorial board criticized Cuomo for his failure to deliver upon ethics reform and for his bias toward the interests of the rich. Here's how that piece ended:
Having walked away from his most important goals, he should not be surprised if many Democrats walk away from him on Sept. 9.
Now, just under two months later, the Times editorial board has decided that it wants four more years of Cuomo. 
The endorsement contains both understatement and an impressive degree of self-delusion.

Regarding understatements, it was amusing to see the Times toss Cuomo's focus on the interests of the rich as a mere aside:
His budgets have been on time, and though his tax policies have favored the wealthy, he managed to get higher credit ratings for the state for the first time in decades.
Contrast the tone of that line to this passage from their non-endorsement:
The budget efficiency came at a price, however. His first budget cut education by $1.5 billion, and later ones failed to give the schools what they needed. Though he pleaded poverty, he imposed an unnecessary property tax cap and refused to extend a tax surcharge on the state’s wealthiest. In January, he proposed yet another damaging tax cut, one that would largely benefit the wealthy and threaten more state services. He highhandedly dismissed Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan for a city tax on the wealthy to pay for universal prekindergarten, instead substituting a pre-K plan with far less guaranteed financing.
But what's more eye-catching about the piece is the sheer level of delusion:
The decision not to endorse in the primary between Mr. Cuomo and his challenger, Zephyr Teachout, a national expert on political corruption and campaign reforms, reflected our disappointment with Mr. Cuomo’s failure to make good on his promise — made four years ago — to clean up Albany. It is our hope that, if Mr. Cuomo is elected to a second term, he will devote the next four years to achieving genuine, meaningful reform of Albany’s political culture, which remains mired in corruption.
(Emphasis added) 
Yes, the guy who disbanded his independent anti-corruption investigation after it started looking into the actions of some of his supporters.

And contrast this request...
His first order of business should be to use his political muscle to change the sham campaign finance laws that have turned Albany into a place that best serves moneyed interests and the politicians in hock to them.
That means reducing contribution limits to candidates; ending unlimited donations to party “housekeeping” accounts; and prohibiting contributions from limited liability corporations, which are used by corporations and individuals to give essentially unlimited amounts of money to candidates. And the most crucial reform is public financing for campaigns — the best way to inject competition into legislative races now almost controlled entirely by incumbents.
.....with this reality:
Mr. Cuomo himself has benefited from lax rules that have allowed him to raise nearly half of the $45 million for his campaign mostly from the developers and lobbyists giving $40,000 or more. Mr. Cuomo has said that while he supports reforms, the Legislature refuses to play ball. He could set a decent example for Albany lawmakers by refusing to take tainted, albeit legal, pots of money himself. That might allow him to shame the Legislature into acting; now, lawmakers can point to his finances and jeer. Reforming his own practices might also help restore his reputation after his sudden shutdown of the anti-corruption Moreland Commission, which had started looking into issues that may have involved his political supporters. A United States attorney has now taken up that work.
Another major disappointment was Mr. Cuomo’s failure to veto redistricting maps in 2012. Those maps were designed by legislators to thwart competition and harden the status quo in Albany. A state constitutional amendment on the November ballot — Proposal One on revising the state’s redistricting procedure — would undoubtedly make things worse. Mr. Cuomo should stop pushing for this deeply flawed measure.
His first order of business should be to use his political muscle to do something that he clearly has no interest whatsoever in doing

As Buzzfeed's Andrew Kacynski noted on Twitter earlier, the Times has a clear case of Stockholm syndrome.

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