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I’ve been flaky, to say the least, about The Politicker’s occasional forays into the awards business, but two bits of spin last week — one brilliant, one abysmal — have inspired a return. First:
The Al Sharpton “So Crazy It Just Might Work” Award for great spin goes to Bloomberg political advisor Kevin Sheekey. At least, I’m guessing that it’s Sheekey who decided to spin the Mayor’s companion Diana Taylor’s failure to land the top job at the FDIC as a consequence of Mike’s standing up to the NRA. According to this narrative, Bush wanted Taylor for the job, but the gun-nuts in the Senate told the White House they’d block the appointment. She takes a bullet, so to speak, for Mike, gun-control martyr.
The only problem is that nobody involved aside from New York Post headline writers seems to believe the story. (If you read the original piece, which got the wood, you can see the writer hedging pretty hard, and quoting a source who thinks something came up in vetting.) I don’t have an explanation — lots of great theories out there! — but a conservative source with strong ties both to the White House and the Hill was among those who dismissed the notion that the NRA played a decisive role.
He pointed out something that should have been obvious: This White House doesn’t brook a whole lot of opposition to its appointments. For the NRA to scuttle a White House choice would be a serious, messy expenditure of political capital, and one with real consequences for the gun lobby. This President, you may have noticed, takes his prerogatives pretty seriously. It would have been crazy for the NRA to pick this particular fight, unless — as my source suggests — it was with a wink and a nod from the White House political operation, who gave the gun lobby credit for an appointment that died either out of lack of enthusiasm from Taylor’s patron, Governor Pataki, or for some other reason.
But the spin is brilliant: Mike and Diana took a moral stand, and paid the price.
On the other side of the cycle, the Weld Campaign gets the Tom Suozzi “Don’t Know When To Stop Arguing” Award. That’s not for its decision to edit the newspaper articles on its Web site. It’s for deciding to push back when one of the editees, the Times reporter covering the race, noticed the changes. No, this isn’t like sending out excerpts. And no, nobody else does it. The situation cried out for the head of an “overzealous intern,” but instead Team Weld played defense. Maybe this stuff works in Boston.