Brainiac vs. Beauty Queen

by Lisa Schiffren

Not that I ever doubted it, but it’s tricky trying to run an “issues campaign” here in New York.  People say they care about the substance. But that just isn’t true. (duh) You want to talk about your candidate’s views on tax rates, spending, cutting spending, debt and deficits — the morality and practical effects thereof — let alone growth, and how it is achieved — see cutting spending and taxes. He’s an economist. he understands this stuff beyond the talking points.  We’re in a recession. This should matter. Sound money anyone? Small business creation? The rest of the country seems interested in how their Senators will be voting on the Obama agenda.  So you send out press releases on the problematic financial reform bill which will be of particular harm to the New York economy. Which, like all the other big Obama/Reid/Pelosi bills that have come up since your opponent was appointed Senator because she was a “conservative Democrat from Upstate” she has supported.  Nothing. The media yawns.  Your friends in the media don’t return your desperate emails and calls.

Then, apropos of nothing, your opponent, who never wants to talk about substance, is named “Third most beautiful person in Washington” (third! not fourth or second)  by the august publication, The Hill, (not Vogue, or the Washington Post Style section), and the media fawns. A million features bloom.  Let us put aside questions about what the standard for this designation was. It’s an accomplishment that no one would ever want to take away from a 43 year old mother of two. Certainly not me. She’s an attractive woman by the standards of the U.S. Senate and beyond. But, um, where’s the beef? Senator Gillibrand has low approval ratings. She is a big spender. She’s never run a statewide race. She was appointed to fill Hillary’s unexpired term. You never hear her on the issues. Sure, that September 14 primary for the GOP is a bitch, and means a late start for the Republican who wins it. But, um, perhaps the beauteous Mrs. Gillibrand wants to demonstrate that she isn’t just a beauty queen voting as she’s told?  Seriously? Seriously.

On the other hand, maybe life really is high school.