It used to be that if you wanted to smear your opponent, all you had to do was mention that they went to San Francisco to ask for money from the liberals and hippies and gays and communists. Barack Obama’s “clinging to guns and religion” line was made so much worse by being uttered at a San Francisco fund-raiser, according to people who love America. But this election year, thanks to Wall Street and its destruction of the American dream, New York has become the leading terrible city being associated with politicians. According to the Times, “More than 200 candidates around the country have run ads demonizing the financial industry or Wall Street, often trying to tie an opponent to a culture of greed and government bailouts.” Among non-Washington cities begin vilified, San Francisco is a “distant second.”
Mostly, candidates are criticized for their Wall Street ties, either real (working for a Wall Street bank) or imagined (voting for the “Wall Street bailout,” a.k.a TARP, which economists believe saved the financial industry from total collapse). But in some ads, there’s also the suggestion that New York City itself is somehow a corrupted place.
In a congressional race in upstate New York, incumbent Democrat Bill Owens ran an ad against his Republican challenger that began with this line: “Matt Doheny moved here from New York City to run for Congress.” As the narrator says this, an arrow points to a photo of Doheny’s apartment building, and the words “New York” are highlighted on a piece of paper displaying Doheny’s address, as if this was an embarrassing revelation uncovered from a secret file somewhere. In Kentucky, an ad “frowns” on Rand Paul for holding a fund-raiser at Webster Hall, of all places.
Do these ads mention that there are
a lot of some very nice people in New York? Or that we have great museums, and trucks that serve food? No. Because to the rest of America, New York City has become a caricature of greed and excess and general evil. We can’t wait for some other city to send the country into a horrible never-ending economic hell, so they can be the evil ones.