Monday, May 21, 2012

Fuzzy Balls

The Constantine Syndrome: I’m an Expert Because I Say So or the J-Joke’s on me

I’ve got a blog and I could write about whatever I want. I could offer business relationship advice. I could handicap the horses. I could give movie reviews.

I could do all that, but I don’t. Why? Because I believe a person should comment only on the things they know something about.   And as people that know me will tell you when it comes to business relationships I’m old school you dance with the one that brung ya.  When it comes to handicapping horses I don’t bet on anything ridden by a human and my taste in movies is eclectic at best.  So I blog about what I know.

In this regard, I was a former ethics enforcer for more than a decade. I wasn’t perfect, but I think I did a decent job. And today, as I write my blog, it’s with the benefit of that experience and it is about matters on which I feel I am qualified to opine. I write about ethics, lobbying, and related public policy matters including communications, which is part of my consulting business.  

Why this disclaimer? Because I’m trying to figure out why the Times Union thinks Lloyd Constantine is qualified to comment on political strategy.

Constantine is in the Times Union again this weekend, this time advancing a theory on “the Cuomo family’s signature moment” in politics. He draws a parallel between the Cuomo-O’Rourke race 20 years ago and the current governor’s redistricting agreement with the state legislature. The connection, according to Constantine, is that the Cuomo’s make unholy deals with Republicans. This is their “family signature.”

This got me to thinking: Is Constantine an authority on this? Was he involved in some way with either Cuomo? Does he have some special first-hand knowledge of what he’s talking about? Did he talk to other people who might have knowledge and include their accurate quotes in his article?

As far as I can tell, the answer to all of these questions is a resounding no. It’s just Lloyd saying what he thinks, and pretending to be an expert.  (And remember I’ve already blogged that Lloyd is a pompous ass – and being a pompous ass is something I am an expert on).

But I don’t think he’s much of an expert at all. In fact, I don’t think he knows what he’s talking about.

Constantine bills himself as a “Manhattan lawyer,” which is code for lawyers who think they are better lawyers than everyone else. But all you have to do is Google his name to read horror stories about his legal judgment. He messed up a prominent rape trial in New York City recently, insisting as a juror that the victim wasn’t credible because she couldn’t remember some meaningless fact.  He also decided he was an expert on whether he had a conflict serving on that jury and whether he should have disclosed his conflict.

He bills himself as a top political advisor to Eliot Spitzer, and touts a book he wrote on Spitzer’s decline. Set aside the fact that Spitzer and everyone close to him has disavowed Constantine. Set aside whether being a “top advisor” for Spitzer on political strategy is a contradiction in terms. Focus instead on what Constantine’s actually wrote in his book about Spitzer’s downfall. It boils down to this: Eliot stopped playing tennis with me. He had no release for his “tension.” And that’s why he turned to hookers.

Yeah, right. The fuzzy balls theory. This is what passes as political commentary in Constantine’s book and in the Times Union, and its pure baloney.

Some people walk the walk others only talk the talk.

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