Not too long ago, the tea party's media boosters were saying that establishment critics of TP-approved candidates missed the point by dwelling on some of the candidates' scandalous backgrounds, questionable characters, pervasive gaffes, or glaring lack of experience or qualifications. It didn't matter if mainstream critics said they were wing nuts. Voters would know that kind of elitist hoo-ha when they saw it. All that mattered, it was confidently said, was that, once elected, they'd do the right thing on taxes and spending.
But then came New York GOP gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino, the TP's most bracing brew, who's mad as hell, who's going to clean up Albany with a baseball bat, and who's polling 24% compared to the 59% lead -- that's a 35-point spread -- now enjoyed by an archetypal political insider and big-government dynast, Democrat Andrew Cuomo.
Makes you wonder what might've happened if state GOP chairman Ed Cox (above) hadn't helped clear the way for Paladino by spending the first half of the year trying to deny the nomination to a more presentable conservative, Rick Lazio, by manufacturing a primary challenge from Lazio's left. Lazio beat back Cox only to be hit on his other flank by Paladino, who was advised by another Nixonite, consultant Roger Stone. Stone got his start in the dirty tricks apparatus launched in 1972 by Nixon aide Dwight Chapin.
It was just the kind of of dual enfilade that Nixon loved -- when performed on Democrats, that is. Since Paladino won the primary in September, Stone has been urging him to soften his presentation, but it's apparently too late. On the other hand, Nixon always liked Andrew's dad, former Gov. Mario Cuomo. Politics works in mysterious ways.
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