Yes, I am a native New Yorker, raised on Long Island, a fact that is easily ascertained by the way I pronounce Longuyland in an unguarded moment. That’s why I thought I really should give the many Republican delegates who are coming to New York next week some useful guidance about my hometown.
Personally, I think people-from-out-of-town–by the way, that is how New Yorkers describe the population of the rest of the United States–have so many silly little misconceptions about us. Like they think New Yorkers are rude, arrogant, and aggressive.
New Yorkers at least, those, who were born here, are basically gentle, gentle souls. The trouble is that all the pushy people from the rest of the country come to our town. Those people believe, “If you can make it there, you can make it anywhere,” and arrive, full of drive and steely-eyed ambition, and start pushing us around. What can we do, I ask you, but push back a little in response?
Case in point: Hillary Rodham Clinton. I mean, think about poor Chuck Schumer. Now, he wasn’t exactly meek and mild before he had to deal with New York’s battle ax of a junior senator. But hasn’t he gotten even more desperate at those poignant Sunday news conferences he likes to hold in order to get just a bit of the publicity that Hillary is such a grand master at manipulating.
Can you imagine how he feels when he finds out he’s only been invited to speak at an event because Hillary is off somewhere fundraising as usual, and just can’t make it. And, don’t you remember, when Hillary ran against Congressman Rick Lazio? It was like a contest between Stuart Little and Cruella Deville. And it was Cruella, who had never really lived a day in her life in the environs of New York, N.Y.
Another misconception: We are too strident, too outspoken, too rude. Wrong, again. Folks, we’re just not passive-aggressive like so many of you.
Case in point: I once worked for a magazine that was bought by an Iowa-based company. The first time I visited its Des Moines headquarters, a staffer picked me up at the airport. “Ever been to New York?” I asked her, just trying, I confess, to be real friendly and folksy. I was in Iowa, after all. “Nope,” she replied, “Des Moines is good enough for me.”
Now Des Moines is the kind of city where at the airport they use to sell t-shirts that read: “Let’s keep Des Moines our private joke.” Where, at the state fair, which has just concluded, one of the most popular exhibits is a cow sculpted out of 600 hundred pounds of butter. Rumor has it that the butter is melted down and used over and over again. Norma “Duffy” Lyons has sculpted that butter bovine for the past 45 years. Some of her other creations include high-cholesterol versions of Garth Brooks and the Last Supper. And you thought eccentric-artist types only lived in New York? Ha!
And though New York may be known for sin and corruption, when it comes to politics, our office holders, compared to those in neighboring states, are practically as pure as driven snow. Consider John Rowland, the governor in Connecticut, the state to the north of us. He just resigned because he was taking just too many gifts from staff and supporters. His secretary once gave him a hot tub for his little lakeside cottage that was renovated with funds supplied by a contractor who did business with the state. Kind of an odd gift to give one’s boss, one would think. Yet that pales besides Jim McGreevey, the Love Gov of New Jersey, the state to the south of ours. Of course McGreevey was accused of corruption, too, but that is just politics as usual, New Jersey style. What was different is what he might have been given by one of his staffers in a hot tub.
Now I am not saying New Yorkers are perfect. Far from that. Yes, I admit, we can get a tad aggressive at a sample sale. And we can be a bit outspoken when someone else is trying to hail the same cab as the one we want. But I am sure all delegates will get a big New York welcome from those few New Yorkers, who are not leaving town next week. Just some final words of advice: Please, don’t order pastrami on white bread. Girls, pack whatever you want, just make sure it is in black. And when you talk politics, to be on the safe side, only do it with someone who is wearing a button that says “Bush-Cheney ‘04.”
–Myrna Blyth, long-time editor of Ladies Home Journal and founding editor of More, is author of Spin Sisters: How the Women of the Media Sell Unhappiness–and Liberalism–to the Women of America. Blyth is also an NRO contributor.