Apparently, New York's role in the presidential election is going to center on our native sons developing new ways to embarrass their party's nominee. When it comes to Republicans in particular, New York has become the Poison Apple.
Exhibit A: Donald Trump
Trump is joining Mitt Romney for a fundraiser in Las Vegas on Tuesday night, reminding the nation that the orange-haired New Yorker built his fake Republican presidential candidacy on embarrassingly bogus claims about President Obama's place of birth. He launched a phony probe into Obama's country of origin that produced no results.
With that failure in hand, the former casino operator doubled down by playing the race card: "I heard he (Obama) was a terrible student, terrible. How does a bad student go to Columbia and then to Harvard?" Trump asked. This time, instead of demanding the president's birth certificate, Trump demanded his academic records. The make-believe probe vanished into thin air.
The reality TV star countered these humiliating setbacks with two words: Road trip! Trump traveled to Las Vegas for a photo-op endorsement of Romney. Mitt pronounced himself to be "delighted" by this benediction.
Let's see how long that lasts. On the day of his big fundraiser with the presumptive Republican nominee, Trump twittered that the president is "practically begging" Romney to "disavow the place of birth movement, he is afraid of it and for good reason."
Romney seems to have a political death wish when it comes to New York City supporters. If you're trying to prove you're the guy to handle the economy, the best way to do that would not be to appear on stage with a man whose money mainly comes from renting out his name, a name blown up to its present circus-balloon expansiveness courtesy of reality television, product placement, and publicity stunts -- like endorsing Mitt Romney.
Also, Romney might want to avoid former presidential candidates whose endorsement is predicated on dissing Romney's record as a job-builder.
Exhibit B: Rudy Giuliani
Giuliani re-emerged over the holiday weekend, holding forth on CNN. It's been a while since I've seen him on national TV, but there's a limit to who you can get to appear on Sunday talk shows when the whole viewing public is off having a barbecue, so apparently the call went out to Rudy.
And he said, basically, that Mitt Romney would make an OK president, although not as good as he, Rudy, would have been.
"Well, I mean, there's a certain amount of personal ego in that," Giuliani told Candy Crowley. So far so good. When America's Mayor is around, you can be pretty sure there will be a certain amount of personal ego in everything.
"He had a reduction in unemployment of about 8 percent, 10 percent -- I think it was 15 percent," Giuliani continued. "I had a reduction in unemployment of 50 percent."
Apparently this is a comparison of Giuliani's two terms as mayor of New York City (1994-2001) versus Romney's one term as governor of Massachusetts (2003-2007). It gives you an unnerving picture of Rudy sitting alone in his den with a calculator, obsessing.
And he wasn't done.
"They had a growth of jobs of 40,000, we had a growth of jobs of 500,000," Giuliani went on. "So I was comparing what I thought was my superior record to his otherwise decent record, but the numbers weren't as great."
Virtually all of Giuliani's time as mayor was during the Clinton administration, when the national economy was booming. Romney was governor during the Bush years when -- not so much. I don't know about you, but I suspect that has a whole lot more to do with the jobs picture than who was minding the store in City Hall/the state capitol.
Giuliani is hardly the only politician who had to do a fast turnaround after backed the wrong horse in his party's primary. In his case the situation was even more problematic since Rudy had attacked Mitt as a flip-flopper, leaving the door wide-open for cynical opinion writers to point out that endorsing Romney was both a flip and a flop of epic proportions.
But you'd think he could come up with a better explanation than comparing "my superior record to his otherwise decent record." Besides making Rudy sound even more self-obsessed than normal, it makes Romney look like a lousy jobs-creator, which undermines the entire point of his campaign.
( I guess this is the end of any plans for a Giuliani moment at the Republican convention. I can see him now, with a chart: Giuliani Jobs Growth -- Great!; Romney Jobs Growth -- Blah; Obama Jobs Growth -- Even Worse Than Romney! )
Giuliani knew Crowley would ask him about Romney. It was the only conceivable reason for asking him to go on the show in the first place. How could he not have planned a better response? And Trump must know that the whole birther thing is a pathetic attention-getter for him, and a big embarrassment for the man he's supposedly helping to become president. Obviously, both these men are too self-obsessed to notice what they're doing -- or care.
With supporters like Trump and Giuliani, who needs enemies?