Saturday, September 09, 2006

In the Mud With Ray Meier and Mike Arcuri

To say that I'm disappointed is like saying that a rattlesnake bite can itch. This week was full of opportunities for our congressional candidates, Republican Ray Meier and Democrat Michael Arcuri, to raise the level of debate to deal with issues of great importance, not just to our district, but to the entire American nation. What's at stake are matters as basic as whether we get to keep the liberty guaranteed us in the Bill of Rights. The next Congress will either protect that liberty or allow it to be destroyed - so it's important what Ray Meier and Mike Arcuri have to say on the matter.

Unfortunately, the campaigns of Michael Arcuri and Ray Meier aren't talking about these kinds of things. They're talking about opinion polls. They're talking about themselves.

It gets worse than that. Michael Arcuri, Ray Meier, and their supporters in Utica have spent the last few days arguing about a local drug bust, whether it involved pornography, and whether excessive force was used. Those are all important local issues, but they're only relevant to the congressional campaign in as much as both candidates have failed to discuss the larger issues that the United States House of Representatives deals with. Instead of calling us to a higher road, Michael Arcuri and Ray Meier are wallowing in the mud of local politics.

In that mud fight, it appears that Michael Arcuri is losing, and may be doing so through his own alarming political clumsiness, not through any brilliant maneuvers on Ray Meier's part. Less than two months before Election Day now, and Mike Arcuri has chosen to do battle with the NAACP.

Michael Arcuri was recently quoted in the Utica Observer-Dispatch, calling leaders of the NAACP "silly", and saying their complaint of police brutality "doesn't even dignify a response". I've heard rumors that this move will soon be added to the Encyclopedia Brittanica's entry on "political insanity".

First, allegations of police brutality always dignify a response. The proper response is "We take such matters very seriously, and will investigate these allegations thoroughly to ensure that everyone is being treated with the respect that they are due."

Second, the NAACP should be a political ally of the Democrats in this campaign. Michael Arcuri should be working with the NAACP, not against them. There should be no room even for the perception that Michael Arcuri would target black people for prosecution for the sake of political gain.

Third, Michael Arcuri and Ray Meier both need to get their heads out of the local political game, regardless of whatever petty rivalries they've built up with different groups over the years. Our congressional candidates need to work to unite our district with an appeal to our better selves and our higher ideals.

The 24th district ought to be filled with a good debate about issues like Iraq, protection of our constitional liberties, about the democratic process, about protecting Social Security, dealing with global warming, and finding solutions to the energy crisis. Instead, we're getting a contest that looks more like a competition for County Sheriff.

Disappointment doesn't begin to cover my reaction to the way this race has developed.


Biggus Dickus said...

The drug bust and pornography stories are actually two separate things.

The porn story is relatively trivial, other than exposing the extent of the business in Utica and some of it's associated corruption. It involves hawt chicks, organized crime, and sex, so it's probably going to get more attention.

The NAACP story is, obviously, far more serious, but not exactly a surprise. Mr. Arcuri's track record on racial issues is, at best, shameful. He certainly doesn't deserve all the blame for our fair city's racial problems, but he's been a willing accomplice in some of the most egregious abuses. The fact that the NAACP is openly protesting the handling of the made-for-TV drug bust gives you an idea of how bad the problem actually is.

Worse, I think it demonstrates that the DCCC didn't vet Arcuri the way they should have. They bought a bill of goods and now they're going to be stuck paying the bill.

I don't believe Mr. Meier has had any involvement or comment in either the porn or NAACP stories.

24 Independent said...

The problem with the DCCC is that it doesn't really THINK about congressional races, so much as it calculates about them. The formulaic evaluation of potential Democratic nominees leaves us all with some pretty vapid results.

We should have had a party primary, instead of having the DCCC help Arcuri muscle out the competition. Oh, what a summer it might have been.

What does Arcuri stand for? What does Meier stand for? As far as I can tell, they stand for themselves.

Anonymous said...

The problem with primaries in NYS is that they take place so late in the game that anyone cannot win a general against an incumbent after a primary, because of the resources you need to make it all happen. It's one of those small details that New York electoin law has built into it to keep those in power, in power. So, what you need is a strong party organization to vet these guys, build a consensus within the party, and then run a strong candidate. Not a democratic (small d) solution, but a better one than a permanent government. We don't have the party system yet that we ought to have, but this illustrates why it's important to get involved in your local party.

Curious said...

On NPR this morning, they defined the Republican strategy for holding on to the House and Senate: Stay personal, and stay local. Meier and his cronies are right on target. It's all part of the plan.