There are days when I think the politicians read my column and get bad ideas as a result. A short while back, I wrote a column suggesting that Donald Trump was the quintessential New Yorker. No sooner did that column hit the newsstands than Ted Cruz, who is duking it out with Trump for first place in Republican hearts, makes the supreme accusation that Trump is (gasp!) a New Yorker. This, of course, sets off a firestorm of resentment among some, but not all, New Yorkers, led by no lesser personages than Andrew Cuomo, Hillary Clinton and Mayor de Blasio.
These great leaders say that while they agree with Trump about pretty much nothing, they believe that he and all New Yorkers have been mortally wounded. In fact, someone could make a fortune bottling politicians’ crocodile tears — a rare commodity on the open market.
Let’s face it — it looks from here like all the players make out like bandits as a result of the unprincipled attack that rivals the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor (that’s sarcasm, for those who don’t know it when they see it.)
So Senator Cruz, the Harvard-educated Tea Party guy, scapegoats New Yorkers. This is music to the ears of the kind of people who bully anyone who isn’t just like them. Lo and behold, the stereotyping works! Great cretins of the past have practiced this technique with a vengeance. You can put Hitler at the top of that list.
This is nothing new in upstate New York. Lots of upstate folks have been griping about downstate New Yorkers for years. Sometimes it is nothing but blatant anti-Semitism; sometimes it’s outright racism. Sometimes it’s jealousy that often exists between the haves and the have-nots and sometimes it’s fear of crime as demonstrated by endless “Law and Order” episodes that make it seem as though rape and murder are standard fare when you live in the Big Apple. There’s an image on the front page of the New York Daily News has front in which the Statue of Liberty is portrayed giving Ted Cruz the well-known finger.
My point is that the kind of prejudice that Cruz is appealing to is not unusual. It’s nothing new to New York and the surrounding states. As a result, Donald Trump appears to be a protector of all New York. The first thing that Trump does in admonishing Cruz is to invoke the horrors of September 11th and all that New York meant to the rest of the world. It’s as if Trump were saying to all those who would dump on New York, “You should be ashamed of yourself.”
One recent Sunday, I was interviewed by WBEN, the radio powerhouse in Buffalo, New York and while we talked about this mess, three callers seemed to agree with Cruz. Governor Cuomo’s call for gun control and the curse of New York taxes and convicted Speaker Sheldon Silver and convicted Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos were all invoked as good reasons to hate New York. New York is a blue state and this year’s Trump model is portraying himself as a conservative Republican.
We all know that politics can be important. We have choices to make. There are some very serious issues confronting us. Economics, sociology, politics — they are all complex and there are no easy answers. But when you think about it, politics have become just entertainment. In large part, the Donald is to blame for this. He figured out that calling names and issuing put downs will bring in the voters. Now Cruz is going toe to toe with him. This is stuff people can understand and love. This is a Trump television show and as my son-in-law put it when I asked him about it, “It’s just stupid.” Yeah, but it may get one of these jokers elected president and then where will we be?