David Colon: Aaron, hello!
Aaron Gordon: Dave, are you ready for another installment of a liveblog that will be posted after the event is over?
DC: Yes! And I think in this instance especially, it fits, since for some weird reason the event was on a tape delay. Why? Who knows! Did you check for any spoilers?
AG: Because I am a sad human who is only barely evolved past the rat that pushes the button to get a hit of endorphin until it dies, I logged on to Twitter unwittingly and saw some spoilers. Anyways, I saw just enough to know this is going to make me upset.
DC: Hoo boy, always a good start. Well, please avoid any Tony Schiavone–like spoilers as if this is Monday Nitro in 1999 and you’re ruining Mick Foley’s big moment.
AG: Let the record show Dave had this embed code ready to go right after he made the reference. You may have prepared for this even more than Cuomo did. Any predictions?
DC: I did prepare, but I was actually kind of excited about it since, like I said earlier, the idea of Cuomo forced to stand on a stage and just explain his whole deal is kind of great. Not that I expect much, but I got very sad when I saw this debate drinking game had a reference to America Is Great–gate and realized it would probably come up.
AG: Greatgate is my favorite political scandal of my adult life. Before it begins, how important do you think this debate is, on a scale of the remainder of the Mets’ season to the remainder of the Yankees’ season?
DC: Gosh, maybe like…the remainder of the Mariners’ season? Like, it prooobably doesn’t matter, but in theory there’s still time left and if someone really fucked up terribly then we’d have something shocking happen. Poor Mariners.
AG: I’m trying to think of what could happen that would drastically change the landscape of this race. Even inventing some made-up term about socialism that is obviously super racist probably wouldn’t do it.
DC: I guess that’s why the governor took a mysterious not-a-bribe related to the investigation of the way Cy Vance didn’t investigate Harvey Weinstein — he just figured it wouldn’t matter at all.
AG: As someone who has been a living, breathing creature for the past three years, I generally don’t give a fuck what polls say for the same reason I don’t consult a 1976 TV Guide to find out what’s on TV. But lots of people still care about polls and Nixon is very far behind in them. My question, Dave, is: over/under 2.5 questions about the MTA?
AG: I hope one of the questions for Cuomo is if he’s ever fucked a flag before.
DC: You gotta ask to be sure. Aaron, as New York’s premier transit journalist, how depressed will the MTA question (singular) make you as far as its simplicity and inconsequential nature?
AG: I cover the MTA for a living, so my baseline is pretty low. I’ll be overjoyed if Cuomo doesn’t make the totally irrelevant point that on paper the city owns the subway.
DC: We live in hell! On a nicer note, I have very fond memories of Hofstra, where the debate is being held. My dad went to law school there, I went to summer camp there, and I was a member of the Long Beach High School marching band that came incredibly close to getting kicked out of a marching-band competition there for grossly bad behavior.
AG: A terrifying vision of things to come. Anyways, the debate has just gotten started. They’re each seated at their own table draped in a blue tablecloth. The first question is of Nixon. “Why are you running?” A question she has literally never been asked before.
DC: True story, I saw a guy ask her why she thought she could run even though her character, Miranda, never left Manhattan in Sex and the City. Like, he asked her this as a journalist, at a campaign stop.
AG: That’s…not great.
DC: Ooh, what in her background gives her the strength of will to run New York? Fair question for our bribe-soaked hell up north.
AG: It’s true, she wasn’t born to a public official and therefore cannot be one. It’s in the Constitution.
DC: So, she was an activist and oh man as I was answering that Cuomo started kissing McCain and the half-mast flag. Then said governing is about “doing” not “advocating.” Drink! A bottle!
AG: I love how Cuomo makes Trump sound like some kind of devious mastermind political maneuverer, instead of a guy whose entire policy is derived from Fox and Friends.
DC: They should have asked Cuomo if he was going to refrain from “pulling a Christie” instead of “will you serve out your term?” And goddamn, he’s talking Trump again.
AG: “He tweets at me weekly” is also what I say about the guy from Queens who is always pissed off at the 7 train.
DC: Lord knows that guy isn’t the governor.
AG: Cuomo just said he will serve four years as governor except “if God strikes me dead.”
DC: I love every politician who makes this promise and then IMMEDIATELY breaks it. We should just stop asking.
“We don’t need a corrupt corporate Democrat in Albany” — man alive, Nixon is going for it.
AG: Nixon is asking Cuomo a bunch of pretty good and fair questions about his record. Cuomo then says they were all misstatements. So this is going well.
DC: He’s talking about his record as a huge liberal? I watched a bunch of (basically) children get arrested in his office because he refused to sign a pledge saying he wouldn’t take campaign money from fossil fuel companies. I saw it happen with my own eyes!
AG: MTA question! “Are you satisfied with the progress of the rescue plan?” And would he consider having the state make up the shortfall instead of fare hikes?
DC: Holy shit, why are you starting with Trump and infrastructure? I fuckin’ hate this guy. And then he said this is really about the New York City Transit Authority. Holy shit we are doomed. Aaron, we’re doomed.
AC: Cuomo just talked for a whole minute and didn’t answer either of the questions. The moderator had to ask it again. “I would consider canceling the fare hike because the service is not what people deserve.”
DC: Oh my god, he’s doing the city/state thing. I’m so glad I’m drinking for this. We’re doomed. We’re fuckin’ doomed.
AG: NONNONONONONONONONONONONON AAAAAAAAAARRRRRRGGGGGGHGHHHHHHFGHHGHGH PPLKLmtp.
DC: I’m fucking dying. I’m dying over here. How is Marc Molinaro better on this than he is?
AG: Friends, I’m sorry, I couldn’t transcribe Cuomo’s falsehoods fast enough because I had a fit listening to him. But in short, he basically lied or spun falsehoods about the entire city transit landscape for about two minutes. It physically pained me to listen to.
DC: An actress is better on pointing out the MTA is a state agency than the longtime governing man. Does Cuomo think this is just gonna sell in the suburbs and upstate? I don’t understand any of this. And then he has the gall to say she “lives in a world of fiction” before going into the goddamn “the city owns the subway.” Aaron, I don’t know how you do this for a living.
AG: Neither of them said anything new during all of this. Just the same shit over and over. This is rapidly devolving into “you’re a liar,” “no you’re a liar” discourse.
DC: TV people love gravely intoning questions about “How will you pay for single payer?” Honestly, rather than that I wish they talked about this plan about making corporate America pay the Trump tax plan profits into the MTA. It’s weird, but I like it!
AG: Now they’re arguing about whether Nixon would support Cuomo for governor if he won the primary. They’re both making faces about it.
DC: Oh man, Cuomo isn’t gonna be able to thread this needle where he says states don’t have the budget to handle single payer because he’s just gonna freak out about the stated cost instead of the fact that states can’t deficit-spend like the feds.
AG: Really enjoying this debate between Andrew Cuomo and Invisible Donald Trump.
DC: Not that Nixon did great there? But anyway, on to corruption!
AG: Extremely “Sir, the question was, is this your handwriting?” vibes to every single Cuomo answer. Not for the sexual content, but the complete non sequiturs.
DC: So I’m gonna take heat for this, but if you say the state legislature can’t take in outside income, you need to raise their salaries! Some of them actually have to live here. (Here being New York, New York, baby!) But the rest of this answer basically came down to “I don’t know who Joe Percoco is.”
AG: Nixon is not particularly composed in her answers, but I also think it’s a ridiculous facet of political analysis that makes that an important consideration.
DC: Like I said while we were dreading this earlier, political debate makes for an actual awful conversation between people.
AG: It doesn’t resemble how adults argue, in which the loudest person wins.
DC: This debate is…bad. Wait, is Cuomo really making the argument he’s never done anything for his donors? Like…literally…today. They’re seriously not gonna ask about the goddamn BuzzFeed report.
AG: Dave, I have a confession. I am a corporation.
DC: Oh, me too, I became an S-corp pass-through after the tax reform.
AG: AaronWGordon LLC.
DC: “What would you tell a parent trying to tell their children to stay away from drugs?” Me, I’d say loosen up, dingbat, look how many people are in fuckin’ jail.
AG: This is probably why I’m not a parent, but do parents still have a DARE-style talk with their kids to Stay Away From Drugs? If so, those parents are square as hell.
DC: I get it, addiction is bad and kids shouldn’t probably toke up at kindergarten, but this is an awful line of questioning. Like, you can’t take your kid to the ballpark without seeing beer ads everywhere, your kid is corrupted everywhere. Fucking TV people.
AG: Cuomo goes Galaxy Brain on the question and says mass incarceration isn’t about marijuana. Which, duh, but the question was about marijuana.
DC: I literally cannot believe the question about legalizing pot is concern-trolling about The Children. Like it’s 1983.
AG: “I experimented with marijuana in college,” Cuomo says, like the joint was in an Erlenmeyer flask.
DC: I experimented with marijuana like an hour from now.
AG: Fucking Christ, Dave, they’re asking about the naming of the Tappan Zee Bridge.
DC: It’s why I’m experimenting with marijuana. That and the pro–Robert Moses quip. Honestly, name the Tappan Zee whatever, I’ll vote for anyone who’s gonna take the carpetbagger RFK’s name off the damn Triborough.
AG: The moderator asked why it can’t be called the Mario Cuomo Tappan Zee Bridge. She keeps badgering him about this. It is literally the least consequential question facing the state since like a month ago when the legislature fixed the typo of the Verrazano Bridge name. Anyways, they’ve now spent longer debating this question than they did the MTA.
DC: The thing is, you gotta pander to drivers here. Think about how many gallons of ink are poured out online for us and our stupid “trains.” This is TV, land of the car.
AG: Would love to see the notes Cuomo is taking down right now.
DC: Send the state troopers back upstate, and while they’re at it send the stupid blue-and-gold color scheme on the buses with them.
AG: True story: About two months ago I saw four state troopers chillin’ under the 30th Ave N/W station. They were eating gyros. Lamb, if I’m not mistaken. One of them had dribbled a bit of sauce on his uniform.
DC: Now that’s what I call observational journalism. On a more serious note, apparently those jerks were handing out tickets to cyclists riding their bikes over the Gil Hodges Bridge.
AG: Dave, I have to admit, this is starting to resemble an actual argument now, since the two are talking over each other about releasing their taxes. It makes for shitty, shitty TV.
DC: What I like about this argument is that the point is to learn if someone is owned by a foreign or corporate subsidiary, and Trump is probably the first guy ever who actually is. I don’t give a shit about Nixon’s, Williams’s, or Cuomo’s taxes, actually, ’cause they’re all (relatively) poor compared to Trump.
AG: I heard William Henry Harrison was in the pocket of Big Oriental Rug.
DC: I mean, who isn’t, those things are great. OK, Cuomo, who got elected on punching public-sector unions in 2010, just said he’s in office to fight for unions and working people.
AG: Well, the Transit Workers Union has been literally campaigning for him, so.
DC: Ah yes, with the famous very positive hashtag, #CuomosMTA. I was “never at war” with the labor unions, says the man who delivered a hostage tape to the 2014 Working Families Party convention.
AG: Question about Nixon’s support for repealing the Taylor Law, which imposes draconian penalties for public workers who strike.
DC: I wish she just said “I support the idea because strikes work.” But appreciate her bringing up the teachers’ strikes even in the face of “Even if it paralyzes the city,” as if the 2005 MTA strike like…destroyed New York.
AG: “Trump is the problem,” Cuomo says, once again owning his debate opponent, Donald Trump.
DC: This answer of his is incoherent and actually that’s why this debate is good. Because Cuomo thinks a public-sector union strike can create mayhem and so he’s not letting them ever strike but also Nixon is the one who attacked the TWU who can obviously do whatever they have to except of course strike and that’s why he’s a friend to unions. You follow?
AG: “I worked in homeless care for 25 years.” He was chair of commissions, secretary of HUD, and other high-ranking positions in organizations/departments that deal with, in part, homelessness. Dave, how many times do you think Andrew Cuomo has had a conversation with a homeless person?
DC: In the last ten years? Zero. But I mean, I’d be willing to believe he’s worked with and listened to them in the past, tbh. But also, like, this question was “Will you let us force homeless people into shelters?” Or did I brown out for a sec?
AG: No, that’s pretty much it.
DC: We live in hell.
AG: Short-answer questions! Do you support sports gambling? Nixon says…no? OK then.
DC: Gimme the damn gambling.
AG: Cuomo describes his relationship with de Blasio as “dysfunctional,” probably the first 100 percent true thing he’s said all night.
DC: True story, I saw a fellow reporter scream, “Do you want the mayor’s endorsement?” at Nixon after an event and she just made a weird face.
AG: Nixon was just asked if she would forgo her governor’s salary because she’s so damn rich. What an absolutely shitty question.
DC: This is the least understanding of socialism argument I’ve ever seen, and I went to college for politics.
AG: Cuomo just said ordinary workers don’t have corporations. I guess I’m not an ordinary worker!
DC: Duh, you’re extraordinary, Aaron.
AG: Speaking of extraordinary, that extraordinary debate is now over. Dave, what did we learn here today?
DC: Andrew Cuomo can’t actually say he both supports public-sector unions but not their ability to strike in a coherent fashion. Other than that, nothing. Guess I can go experiment now, at least.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on August 29, 2018