Hugh Reynolds: Lies, damned lies and campaigns for office

It was Winston Churchill, a fair country fibber in his own right, who said at the height of World War II, “In time of war (or politics), when truth is so precious, it must be attended by a bodyguard of lies.”

A previous British prime minister, Benjamin Disraeli, is supposed to have put it more succinctly, as in “There are lies, damned lies and statistics.”

And so we turn the corner from Labor Day to Election Day, now just eight weeks away, attended by a shameless bodyguard of lies.


There is Paul Ryan’s screed at the Republican national convention and President Obama’s taking a quote about fact-checking out of context, of course. But since all politics is local, let’s keep it here.

It’s getting near time to make a choice, but in the local congressional race, as something of a homer, I’m more inclined to go with a Democrat from Marbletown (Julian Schreibman) than a Republican from Kinderhook (Chris Gibson). Maybe having Maurice Hinchey down the street for 20 years spoiled me. All things being equal, and they never are, Gibson seems the more determined campaigner. If Schreibman is out there, and I assume he has to be, he’s doing it on the down-low.

His surrogates, to the contrary, are seriously engaged and judging from a flyer I got last month, blasting away.

About a week ago, I got a campaign flyer in the mail from the state Democratic committee attacking Gibson as a Tea Party lackey. So clearly Photoshopped as to be laughable, it showed a grim-faced Gibson with a Tea Party emblem on his lapel standing in front of the capital with a Tea Party flag flying from the dome. A check with Gibson’s side indicated that even his body had been Photoshopped. A photo used to be worth a thousand words. These days, with Photoshoppers on the loose, we have to doubt most of them.

The problem is that a fair number of recipients — 3 or 4 percent would do the trick — wouldn’t know Photoshop (for the uninitiated, software which allows pictures to be manipulated in any number of ways) from a body shop. Their reaction might well be something like, “Whoa. This guy is bad news!”

Which, come to think of it, brings us to the question of exactly what is the Tea Party? I get the right-wing part, assuming controlling debt and limiting government spending is right-wing, but it doesn’t seem to have any local leader or spokesperson. Pam O’Dell of Gardiner is mentioned sometimes as a contact. A group of local people with placards and flags held a rally in a shopping plaza in the Town ofUlster a couple of years ago, but haven’t been heard from since.

County Democratic Chairman Frank Cardinale says he knows of no active organization. County Republican Chairman Roger Rascoe, though obviously more in tune with the group’s core issues, seconds that emotion.

And yet independent voters in the county are being bombarded with “Tea Party” propaganda. I just don’t get it. Check that. I will be getting it going forward, probably in every other anti-Gibson flyer.

Conventional wisdom

Legislature Chairwoman Terry Bernardo, with husband Len in tow, attended the Republican convention as a delegate in Tampa last week, filling in for GOP chairman Rascoe. He had higher priorities.

“My daughter is getting married this Saturday (the 8th) and I’m paying for it,” he said. “Tampa was not in my plans. We’re glad Terry agreed to go as our delegate.”

For a five-day sojourn in Florida— in August, yet! — the tab wasn’t all that bad, said the well-heeled Bernardo. A couple of thousand dollars.

Bernardo, 46, an accomplished trapeze artist, called the convention, her first, “one of the most amazing experiences of my entire life.” She met all kinds of Republican bigwigs, as expected, including hanging with former senator Alfonse D’Amato, who it seems took a special shine to her. D’Amato asked after an old ally, former county chairman Pete Savago, so Bernardo put the two on the phone together. (Savago was in New Paltz watching the convention on TV.)

Bernardo said she almost touched Romney’s hand as he slapped fives down the aisle to make his acceptance speech. “You can see my hand in some of the videos,” she told me. Savago probably holds the record for attending Republican nominating conventions, always wearing his trademark lemon-colored sport jacket. I don’t know if he almost touched McKinley’s hand, however.

Thursday’s primary

The Thursday, Sept. 13’s primary — Thursday! — could be a case of the blind leading the blind to places they’ve never heard of. For instance, can anyone give me directions to a place called Schenevus? I didn’t think so. (Clue: It’s in Otsego County, not far from Cooperstown.) All I know is the no-name challenging Jim Seward for the Republican nomination in the new — they’re all new — 51st district hails from there.

As the district lines are now carved in stone for the next decade, there is no point in decryingUlster’s sad fate of being relegated to an afterthought in this year’s reapportionment. But who needs a point? Ulster is where the chips finally fell, divided and chopped up like a Thanksgiving turkey. A pox on the senior state legislators who represented us under the current plan for allowing us to come to this sorry pass. Clearly, they had no clout — or perhaps they had too much self-interest — to make a difference when it counted.

Slideshow image: Julian Schreibman and U.S. Rep. Chris Gibson.

There are 2 comments

  1. Wally

    Understand the “homer” part where you would want to go with Julian. I think Gibson is going to crush him though on Election Day. Julian is a weak candidate, and his relentlessly negative campaign is already turning a lot of people off. Gibson will win going away.

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