Mayoral main squeeze Diana Taylor was interviewed for the latest issue of NYO Magazine by Observer editor-in-chief Elizabeth Spiers, and it’s a doozy.
Asked, for example her thoughts on President Barack Obama, she channels Sarah Palin.
“I think that he’s a very intelligent man,” she said carefully. “And he has a lot to learn.”
Her voice took on a sharper edge. “For somebody’s who’s going to come in and be the great unifier—you know, that hopey-changey stuff—it hasn’t worked very well. The country is more divided now than it’s ever been. And he doesn’t appreciate other people and what they do. “
The problem with the president, Taylor explained, was that he wasn’t “a champion for this country,” particularly its economic interests.
She had a three-pronged list of his biggest mistakes. “There are probably more,” she said, but here were three. He wasn’t supporting business, Ms. Taylor said. “He should be a champion for this country and he’s not. Because that’s where the jobs are going to come from. They’re not going to come from government; they’re going to come from the private sector.” The second: Obamacare. He basically told Congress, ‘you know what? I want a health care bill, do something.”
“The last time I checked, the president was supposed to sit down and figure out what he wanted and then get Congress to go along with it. And we got a mess. And exactly the same thing with financial regulation and regulatory reform.” This was number three. “And we have a mess.”
Last year Taylor was mentioned as a possible Republican challenger to Kirsten Gillibrand. She explains to Spiers that she thought she could have won, but didn’t want to spend most of the year actually being a senator.
The Senate Republicans basically asked me to run and I thought about it, talked to a lot of people,” she said. “But then when I really thought about it, what attracted me to the idea was the race because I knew I could win that race. It was the thought of actually having to go and do that job, that was really not all that appealing.”
When asked what she thought of Senator Gillibrand’s job performance now, she paused. “I think she works very hard” she said, diplomatically. “I don’t agree with her on anything—“ She hesitated. “Some things that…” Then choosing the if-you-can’t-say-something-nice option, she reiterated: “I think she just works really hard.”
But Ms. Taylor insisted she wasn’t tempted to run against her now either. She said she had no political ambitions. “I never did!”
“Plus, I’d have to go live in Washington?” she said, rolling her eyes. “And you know, what would I do with the dogs? Would I take them on the train? Would I have to drive? These are the kinds of considerations!”
Perhaps part of the reason too, Taylor said, is that she, like most Americans, doesn’t have very high regard for Congress.
Then she turned serious. “You’re one of a body of 100. I would be a very junior member of the minority party and I didn’t feel like I’d have a lot of say in what went on and the decisions that were made. And I don’t have a particularly high opinion of Congress at this point.”
We pointed out that no one had a particularly high opinion of Congress at this point. (A recent Gallup poll indicated that Congress’s approval rate had dropped to a measly 13%.)
“Then I hold the majority opinion on that, l and I think that we’re in a situation now where it’s sort of a downward spiral,” she said. “You know, the opinion of the body itself is so bad, how do you get qualified intelligent good people to run? I don’t know the answer to that question.”
The key to reforming Congress, Taylor suggests, are some of the reforms that her boyfriend championed–nonpartisan redistricting and nonpartisan elections.
“Most of [the Congressional districts] are completely gerrymandered to be safe districts for whatever party’s in control. And when you have something like that with the primary system, you have people [winning] the primary in the majority party of that district.”
“There are not very many people who go out and vote in primaries,” she added. “So to get elected in a particular district, you have to appeal to the five people who vote in the primary. So you get elected, and you get into office and you have zero incentive to do anything that does not fit with [the agenda of] those five people who elected you, who are the wacko right-wing or the wacko-left wing depending on what kind of district you’re coming from—so you have no ability really to go to the center because you will not get re-elected if you go the center.”
The key, she said, was changing how districting worked. “I think that non-partisan primaries would be great. I think that would make a lot more sense. Because then you have the whole slate and you don’t have people who’ve run on the total right and total left having to have one set of ideas during the primary and then move to the center for the re-election.”