Friday, January 22, 2016

Election 2016: New York v New York v New York (?)

LARRY KING: This is one tough town, is it not.
BOB BENNETT: New York is a tough town, Larry. This is a mean town.
--Talking about Washington, DC in Anything Goes!: What I've Learned from Pundits, Politicians, and Presidents

The moment of truth in the January 15, 2016 Republican Presidential Debate on Fox Business Channel came in response to a question from Maria Bartiromo, who asked Texas Senator Ted Cruz to explain his charge that Donald Trump "embodies New York values." Cruz responded:

CRUZ: friend Donald has taken to...playing Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA”, and I was asked what I thought of that. And I said, “well, if he wanted to play a song, maybe he could play, ‘New York, New York’?” And — and — you know, the concept of New York values is not that complicated to figure out.

In returning fire, Trump's passionate defense of New York's response to 9/11 gained him sympathetic press coverage, and in my opinion, won him the Republican nomination:

TRUMP: So conservatives actually do come out of Manhattan, including William F. Buckley and others, just so you understand. 


And just so — if I could, because he insulted a lot of people. I’ve had more calls on that statement that Ted made — New York is a great place. It’s got great people, it’s got loving people, wonderful people.

When the World Trade Center came down, I saw something that no place on Earth could have handled more beautifully, more humanely than New York. You had two one hundred...


... you had two 110-story buildings come crashing down. I saw them come down. Thousands of people killed, and the cleanup started the next day, and it was the most horrific cleanup, probably in the history of doing this, and in construction. I was down there, and I’ve never seen anything like it.

And the people in New York fought and fought and fought, and we saw more death, and even the smell of death — nobody understood it. And it was with us for months, the smell, the air. And we rebuilt downtown Manhattan, and everybody in the world watched and everybody in the world loved New York and loved New Yorkers. And I have to tell you, that was a very insulting statement that Ted made.


But the issue of New York raised by Cruz in what looked like a cheap and divisive attempt to play on regional prejudices, is far more significant than a debate over the definition of conservatism.  It  illuminated, like lightning, the contested terrain of the 2016 Presidential campaign. 

For if Election 2008 was about the unfinished business of the Civil Rights Era which resulted in America's first African-American President to fulfill the dream of racial equality; then Election 2016 is about unfinished business of 9/11, and will result in the election of a New Yorker who can finally fully avenge the attack on the Twin Towers by Islamic Fundamentalism--an attack which occurred under a Texan President for whom Ted Cruz worked.

And that means at the very least that it looks like the next President of the United States will be from New York. 

As it so happens, both Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump were born in New York City and so there can be no question of their New York bona fides. Sanders grew up in Brooklyn, Trump in Queens.

Interestingly, although born in Chicago and a Washington DC homeowner,  thus not a "natural born New Yorker," Hillary Clinton claims she lives in New York and served one term as Senator. At this point the former First Lady is a legal resident of the state, and her daughter and granddaughter live in New York City. Therefore, she is likely the exception that proves the rule.

Personal styles distinguish Sanders and Trump from Hillary, more than sex differences. 

Both Sanders and Trump are "Authentic New York Style."  What's more, both Sanders and Trump are "Old School." They talk like New York cab drivers and construction workers used to talk--outer borough "dese, dem and dose." If Donald Trump is Archie Bunker, then Sanders is Meathead--they could live together under one roof, dependent upon one another, although resentfully. They may argue, they may fight, but they are family.

In addition, Sanders and Trump remind Americans of how New Yorkers acted before 9/11. (Since 9/11, New Yorkers have seemed more subdued, in my opinion). Both led successful careers as, respectively, brash political and business leaders who were also  abrasive, opinionated, and outspoken New Yorkers. Both Sanders and Trump have had multiple marriages, and Sanders additionally has a love child.

It is obvious that Sanders and Trump lack what contemporary pundits call a "filter." They are both politically incorrect, coming at their deviationism from divergent origins: Sanders because he does not disguise his socialism; Trump because he does not disguise his patriotism. Yet, both socialism and nationalism are incompatible with Islamic Fundamentalism. 

On the other hand, Hillary Clinton mere's existence as a public figure reminds Americans of politically correct Establishment post-9/11 discourse and defeatism. As First Lady, she was part of a Clinton administration which failed to prevent the 1993 Al Qaeda World Trade Center attack or defeat Bin Laden. Later, as both Senator and Secretary of State she likewise failed to defeat Islamic Fundamentalism. Indeed, she had a close personal staffer with ties to the same Muslim Brotherhood that spawned Al Qaeda, ISIS, HAMAS and an alphabet soup of terror groups around the world.

Indeed, unlike Sanders and Trump, who have been successful their entire careers, Hillary Clinton has not--she failed as First Lady, by allowing scandal to mar the dignity of the Presidency; she failed as Senator to pass meaningful legislation; and she failed as Secretary of State to preserve global peace and stability or protect the nation. Whether or not she is indicted as a criminal is a secondary to her record in public service--in positions which apparently depended entirely upon "standing by her man," an ironic position for a purported feminist dedicated to women's liberation. Her only unique campaign weapon at this point is that she is a woman--which may become a sword to be used against her by two cranky old men from New York City.

Bottom line: New York has already won Election 2016. 

The remaining question is who will serve as New York's champion in the coming administration, in order to avenge the destruction of the World Trade Center on September 11th, 2001: Brooklyn's Bernie Sanders, Queens's Donald Trump...or Hillary Clinton?