|NYSNYS NEWS: NY pols turning to use of word 'fuck' to make public political points. Gillibrand posts video of herself cursing on Twitter.|
|GILLIBRAND FUCK WORD: Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand posted a video on Twitter of her using a vulgarity to describe President Donald Trump and the GOP Congress -- NYSNYS News screengrab|
By Kyle Hughes
ALBANY, N.Y. (June 14) -- New York politicians infamous for ethical lapses, sexual misconduct and corruption charges are now chasing another dubious distinction -- dropping the "F-bomb" in public.
After 11 years in elected office, in both the House and Senate, U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand has started using the word "fuck" in talking about President Donald Trump and the GOP Congress, both in a recent speech and interview.
"Fundamentally, if we are not helping people, we should go the fuck home," she said, reading from a speech at New York University last week. "And that should be our north star. That should be our framing principle of what we are doing in public service."
Gillibrand, who used the f-word in her 2014 memoir, posted un-bleeped video of the speech to Twitter. "Might need to put some cash in the swear jar tonight!," she wrote in the post.
Gillibrand, whose elite education includes attending Emma Willard School in Troy and Dartmouth College, is not the only candidate using vulgarity to make a political point.
SUNY Binghamton computer science professor Patrick Madden has also used such language when talking to a reporter about his Democratic campaign to unseat Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-New Hartford).
"Why am I doing this? My God, we're totally fucked," Madden told Vice, an online news outlet. "I probably shouldn't say that. Actually, wait a minute. Yeah, we're totally fucked."
Tuesday, members of the Senate Independent Democratic Conference charged that a push-poll phone call aimed at one of its members had a recorded message to voters who pressed 1 to show their support for IDC Sen. Jose Peralta (D-Queens): "Fuck you!"
Push poll are telephone calls to voters that purport to be independent polls but are attempts to "push" voters into forming a negative opinion of whoever they are being asked about.
Barbara Bartoletti of the League of Women Voters said such vulgarity "degrades our civic dialogue. We used to be able to talk to one another in civil tones and even if you disagreed, you were polite and civil. That seems to have gone away and unfortunately it all starts at the top."
She was referring President Donald Trump's name-calling and vulgar utterances. She said such talk has "seeped down" into other levels of politics. "It's really degrading."
"It shouldn't be normalized," said Assembly member Steve McLaughlin (R-Rensselaer County), who is a sharp-tongued critic of Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state government leaders. "I'm not going to say that most people -- many, many people have used that language, myself included. But I don't do it in a public forum and I certainly would never do it in my official capacity as an Assemblyman."
It's not clear why cursing has gone public, though there are theories that Gillibrand and other politicians are doing it to sound more authentic and "real." The vulgarity has turned up at the top level of state government and academia.
In 2016, Cuomo's former top economic development aide SUNY Poly President Alain Kaloyeros, once the highest paid state employee, wrote on his Facebook page "never kick me when I'm down, because when I get back up ... you're fucked." He made the threat after being arrested on bid-rigging charges involving donors and aides to Cuomo who, despite cultivating a tough-guy image, keeps it clean in public.
Former Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno (R-Brunswick), who had a grandfatherly public persona during his years as one of Albany's three men in a room, drops the f-word repeatedly in his recent memoir, "Keep Swinging." Passages of the book are devoted to getting even with those he deems mentally unstable and unworthy opponents, from former Gov. Eliot Spitzer to federal Judge Gary Sharpe, who presided over Bruno's corruption trials.
One of the anecdotes Bruno gleefully retells is Spitzer's 2007 threat to then Assembly member Jim Tedisco (R-Glenville) that he better do what he is told because "I'm a fucking steamroller."
That remark was made in private conversation but quickly became publicly known. Something similar happened to the son of Bruno's successor, Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos (R-Nassau County), when he was reprimanded for not showing up to work at a job his dad had gotten him.
"Guys like you couldnít shine my shoes," Adam Skelos told a man he worked for whose company had vital business issues before the Senate, according to testimony at the father and son's 2015 corruption trial. "Youíll never amount to anything. If you talk to me like that again, Iíll smash your fucking head in."