There is concern among some in the GOP leadership that, by beating a more sensible candidate for the Republican spot in Tuesday's primary, Carl Paladino will have inadvertently handed the New York governorship to the Democrats this coming November.
Now what kind of can-do thinking is that? It smacks more of the weasel-like maneuvering of business-as-usual politics, and the rabid conservative movement doesn't strike me as the type of organization to concentrate on something as elitist as "strategy." Not when there are such important things at stake; things like honor, family values, and of course, Jesus Christ. I say to the Republican Party -- embrace the candidacy of one of those guys who's all angry and sweaty about some picture-book version of America getting yanked out from under our feet. Get behind him.
And if indeed the Republican Party stands for honor, why not commit? Fight the good fight, and let New Yorkers know what they'll get if they vote for Mr. Paladino. If they don't want what he's selling, so be it. You tried, right? It's not like a Tea Party candidate would be interested in the job if their agenda had to be watered down to get it.
Let's take the "mosque at Ground Zero" for an example. Here are candidate Paladino's own words from a radio spot during the primary campaign: "As Governor I will use the power of eminent domain to stop this mosque and make the site a war memorial instead of a monument to those who attacked our country."
How refreshing, conflating a vast religion in toto with a terrorist cell. (I wonder about Mr. Paladino's stance towards Christianity every time one of those serial killers says God -- you know, the Christian one -- to dismember teenagers.) Could the Republican leadership possibly be concerned that perhaps even right-leaning voters in New York might realize that the actions of a tiny number of zealots does not condemn an entire religion? And that realization might cost them votes?
Who cares, stand up for what you believe in, right? Isn't that what Glenn Beck's been saying? Everything about the movement grows from the roots of democracy. Unless, of course, those roots get in the way of stirring up emotions in voters.
In a July 22 article in the Albany Times Union, Mr. Paladino was quoted as saying, "A mosque would be unacceptable... This is an ideological question, not a freedom of religion issue."
Anyone who thinks that freedom of religion or any of the other concepts covered in The Constitution and The Bill of Rights is anything but an outlining of ideology is a perfect mascot for the Tea Party. Sadly, I don't imagine Mr. Paladino believes what he's saying about it not being a freedom of religion issue, but he does see this ideology phrase as a way to short-circuit critical thinking about his platform and getting people enraged about this perceived slap in the face.
There is your Tea Party philosophy in a nutshell: it's not about the facts, it's about those things I suggest that make you blindingly angry.
Trading in fear, frustration, and all the other pulse-points of human emotion is a time-honored political tactic. "Andrew Cuomo supports the mosque," Mr. Paladino said in a radio ad. "I say it is disrespectful to the thousands who died on 9/11 and their families, insulting to the thousands of troops who've been killed or injured in the ensuing wars and an affront to American people. And it must be stopped."
He's a pretty well-educated man to have his own definition of ideology. But lacking any evidence to the contrary, let's take him at his word. He believes his "ideology" trumps a little thing like freedom of religion. Good to know.
Now close your eyes, New Yorkers, and picture a Gov. Paladino sitting in Albany, contemplating other critical issues of life in the state he runs:
" ... This is an ideological question, not a civil rights issue."
" ... This is an ideological question, not a public heath issue."
"... This is an ideological question, not a legal issue."
Mr. Paladino suggests his war memorial might be a district that "could extend as far as the debris from the 9/11 attacks was distributed." But he's smart enough to know that the national psychic scars of the tragedy spread debris all across the country. The actual Ground Zero boundaries go from sea to shining sea. This understanding will certainly be something Mr. Paladino uses when he tires of the provincial power of governorship and sets his sights on the White House.
And if that happens, you won't be able to find a mosque in New York City... or Oklahoma City, for that matter.