Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The Great Debate

Suozzi, Spitzer Square Off In Westchester

It may not have been at twenty paces (in fact, it was at just one -- Pace University in White Plains), but it was, in no uncertain terms, a debate.

The Nassau County Exec, throwing punches from the first bell, attacked the New York State Attorney General, who remained largely unfazed, and evidently unscathed. The candidates offered views on school funding, property taxes, and marijuana use. [Both admitted to having smoked the weed. After watching the debate, maybe we should, too!]

The debate was broadwast live on NY1, a New York City cable station (we wonder if they were watching on portable TVs in Astoria?), and rebroadcast on News12 Long Island. No Gabe Pressman, for those of us who remember when gubernatorial debates were big deals and actually meant something -- or at least meant enough to be broadcast, statewide, on the networks.

While The New York Times called the debates "fiery," this observer considered the exchange as standard fare. Suozzi jabbed and barbed. Spitzer defended, even managing a smile now and again.

The best moment in the entire debate, in our opinion, came when Suozzi, quoting his dad in Italian, offered a comeback to what he apparently perceived as Spitzer's glibness. "Don't watch the mouth, watch the hands," Suozzi said in translation. Sure, it sounded alot better in Italian.

Those interested -- and each of us should be -- can listen to the debate (or even watch, if you have REAL Player) via Suozzi's website. [To be fair, and in the interest of equal time, we looked at the Eliot Spitzer site for a debate link. Nada. Guess the AG doesn't want to give Tom Suozzi anything more than the meager exposure offered by the media.]

For the record, and as reported on the Newsday blog, Spin Cycle, Suozzi hasn't been inside a supermarket during the past month, Spitzer has. Spitzer owns an I-pod, Suozzi does not. Suozzi admits he'd like to be President, while Spitzer professes no such ambition. And Spitzer says private schools top public schools, while Suozzi favors the public. [Thank goodness we got that I-pod question out of the way!]

Meanwhile, the GOP candidate for Governor, John Faso, prepares to debate himself. Watch for the empty chair to make significant gains against Faso, who has, for all intents and purposes, been ignored in this campaign by press and public alike. [The latest Marist Poll had the empty chair beating Faso by better than 2 to 1.]

Whether Tom Suozzi gained any ground against Eliot Spitzer by reason of last night's debate remains to be seen (even unconventional wisdom, applied liberally here, says "no"). On the other hand, one thing is absolutely certain: A year from now, you still won't have a clue as to who Scott Vanderhoef is!

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