Editorial roundup


The Times Herald Record of Middletown on candidates’ ability to get on the ballot, Aug. 10

The news has been full of stories lately concerning who gets on the ballot for primary elections, the gateway to the November ballot.

In another year when voters are selecting members of the Senate and Assembly, competition and scrutiny will be more intense. And it takes a full-time staff to fight through the crowd to get a chance to receive a vote for a statewide office.

In one way, this is good. If anybody could get on the ballot, the crowd would be overwhelming. Name recognition alone could be the key to victory.

There is something to be said about studying the rules and following them. If somebody does not fulfill the requirements to represent a party, then that someone should not be able to compete for its line. If a prospective candidate cannot follow rules concerning signatures on nominating petitions, then there is reason to question that person’s ability or interest in following other rules once elected.

But there is a downside to this qualifying gauntlet.

(Yes the original spelling was “gantlet” but lots of language buffs prefer to add the “u” so that it gets pronounced correctly and consistently.)

It favors those who write the rules. That would be party bosses large and small.

It favors those who have workers on staff or volunteers on hand to help patrol the territory, scrutinizing every signature and address in hopes of finding even the inadvertent mistakes that can add up to a disqualification.

That would be the same party bosses.

It favors those who have lawyers on retainer, who work at this kind of thing full time, who have gone through this so often that they can anticipate weaknesses in any challenger’s crusade.

That would be the same bosses.

And it favors the status quo. New York makes it so hard to get on the ballot that only those first admitted by the party gatekeepers have much of a chance and they also get the postage, printing and donations that turn pretty much every Senate and Assembly seat into a safe one.

Even if somebody wanted to challenge an incumbent who was under indictment, and there were some options in the last election, the party bosses will fight an insurgent each step of the way, starting with those first forays to collect signatures.

There is another approach, one that lets people get on primary ballots with little party interference and then lets those with the most votes compete in a runoff election.

Party rulers hate that idea because while it could guarantee a victory should the contest come down to two from the same party, the two also might be from the other party instead. And the chaos coming from such an open process could produce unexpected results, elevating someone with popular appeal who was not willing to be subject to party discipline.

If you ever wondered why the rampant distrust of government, something on display all over the nation today, has not put down roots in New York, the petition battles we now are watching offer a clue.

It’s hard to plant a seed when party bosses control the gate to the garden.

The Daily Star of Oneonta on Jon Stewart’s departure., Aug. 10

“Dear Jon Stewart,” tweeted revered funnyman Mel Brooks on Thursday. “What are (fellow aged comedian Carl Reiner) and I supposed to do every night now?! Well, I guess it’s back to McHale’s Navy.”

Brooks’ response to Thursday night being Stewart’s last on “The Daily Show” might have been a bit dire, but still the question remains: What do we watch now at 11 p.m. on Monday through Thursday?

Already, after just one barren Monday, there seems to be a void, not just in that half-hour four days a week, but in the anticipation of what Stewart might say after we hear a politician or television pundit say something outrageously awful.

Who is going to deflate those pompous windbags of both political parties now that Stewart has ended his 16-year run? Who is going to at least try to keep Fox News honest?

More than 3.5 million people tuned in to his final night on “The Daily Show,” and more than a million more viewed it online in just several hours afterward. The finale was heartfelt without being maudlin — just like Stewart himself on those occasions when he would put comedy aside for a few minutes and express his outrage or disappointment about world events.

For many conservatives, Stewart was their bete noire, a champion of misguided progressives who stood for everything they despised. But if they didn’t watch his show because of that impression, they were missing out on more than just some really funny stuff.

While certainly viewing the political world through a liberal prism, Stewart was not the least bit reluctant to skewer prominent Democrats, particularly President Barack Obama (who appeared on the show seven times) and Hillary Clinton.

Stewart’s almost nightly revelations of Fox News’ hypocrisy, mendacity and bias didn’t sit well with many of those on the right, but even Roger Ailes, the mastermind of Fox’s success, admitted last week that Stewart was funny.

And that, truly, was what Stewart seemed to care about most. He said many times that he was doing a comedy show that pretended to be a legitimate newscast, not to be mistaken for an actual news show.

That his influence seemed to put a lie to that notion is much more society’s fault than his. Those who used “The Daily Show” as their main source of information were misguided, and he freely acknowledged that. But he also had little patience for news networks he felt were not serving the public as well as they should.

CNN was a frequent target (although not nearly as frequent as Fox News). In 2004, Stewart went on CNN’s “Crossfire” show and implored hosts Tucker Carlson and Paul Begala to “Stop, stop, stop, stop hurting America” with their . “partisan hackery.”

CNN’s executives took a good look, realized Stewart was right, and canceled the show.

“The Daily Show” almost certainly influenced how some members of Congress would vote on certain legislation. When Stewart spoke, people laughed . and they listened.

We are going to miss the laughs … and the wisdom.

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