Has the art of civil debate lost its way these days? Last week, we had the McFarland/Spencer spectacle. Thursday evening, we had the 70 minute Andrew Cuomo/Mark Green/Charlie King/Sean Patrick Maloney event. Apparently Mr. Green was the predominant “attacker”, and his main target was Mr. Cuomo.
Unlike a relatively benign, town hall-style meeting featuring all the candidates a night earlier, last night’s session featured sharp exchanges.
“It was a very uncomfortable debate to watch because it wasn’t a debate on substance,” said activist and comedian Randy Credico, one of the 500 people in the audience. He said the event fell into a “cat fight,” adding he is neutral in the primary.
It was hard last night to find much philosophical difference among the four who’d like to replace Eliot Spitzer as New York AG. So what we got was a bunch of mushy position papers – and all the personal stuff.
Right from the get-go, it was a three-against-one match, with the two marginal candidates, Sean Patrick Maloney and Charlie King — both locked at a mere three percent in the polls — playing tag-team and tossing love taps at front-runner Andrew Cuomo.
Selected quotes from the above articles:
Green: “There is no housing bureau in the office of attorney general.” “Andrew, you are running for the wrong office because governor wasn’t open. I’m running for attorney general because I want to be attorney general, not as a stepping stone, but as a destination.” “If Andrew wants to run on his record, he has to be open to scrutiny,”
Cuomo: “Look, everyone has the right to run their campaign the way they see fit.” “You know, … Mark Green has been attacking people for many, many years.” “I would rather talk about my positive ideas,” “Mark announced a 30-day attack campaign,” “I choose not to do that.” “I’m going to stay positive.”
[Mr. Cuomo, so far, has adhered to the textbook conception of front-runner behavior and refrained from personally attacking his nettlesome opponent. Instead, he has sent surrogates to smack Mr. Green for him.
… Mr. Green has been derided by the Cuomo campaign as a “perennial candidate.” It’s a moniker he hates.]
King (who worked for Cuomo at HUD): “I think that Andrew has a great resume, but not for this job,” “I don’t think any one of them has been a lawyer in a court this century. I have.”
Maloney (on Green’s attacking of Cuomo): “I feel like the UN peace-keeping force.” “I have two small girls, and what I usually say is, ‘We can turn this car around right now.'” “Mark should knock it off.” “It hurts Democrats. I realize this is a contact sport. It’s not because I think Andrew Cuomo candidate is the best candidate in this race … I don’t think he’s the best candidate on this stage, or even the second-best. We will not beat Jeanine Pirro with this.” (Maloney is for reinstating the death penalty in NYS) – “I happen to believe Osama Bin Laden deserves to be put to death, and I’m sorry you disagree with that Mark, but I think that in extreme cases the state has the right to take lives.” “I think I am the only guy on this stage who thinks that Osama bin Laden deserves to be put to death.” “I’ve got 3,000 reasons why that makes sense.”
The winner of the September 12th primary will face Republican Jeanine Pirro, the former Westchester County district attorney, for the general election this November