Serial Bus

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Paid For By Friends of Rob Astorino

with one comment

As I took the stairs up to the platform at the Pelham Metro-North station a couple of weeks back, I was relieved that I had beaten the train to the finish line. Many of the days, I see it rushing past me as I huff up the stairs. Anyways, so there I was, standing when an elderly gentleman came and politely handed me a pamphlet about Rob Astorino, a candidate for the county executive elections on Nov 3. He also mentioned that Rob was near the middle of the platform answering questions. He perhaps did not know that some of us would never move an inch away from our end of the platform because that’s where the first car of the train stops which would deliver us closest to the main concourse of the Grand Central station, allowing us to stomp out quickly and melt into the morning crowd of NYC. But, hey, Rob, though I am not franchised in the US, I did read your pamphlet.

Now, I must admit that I had not heard of Rob until I got the pamphlet. I have not heard of him since either – this is perhaps more a testament to my ignorance than his popularity. And, in writing this post, I decided to not research him and write just about the pamphlet. So, yes, I do not know if he won.

The pamphlet does a great job of playing to the gallery. It’s like any election pamphlet I have seen in India, only more slick and glossy. It fulfills the time-honored criteria of what a pamphlet should look like – evoke the tragedy of the present times, trash your competition, promise deliverance and paint yourself as the messiah.

So, on the top is a beaming picture of Rob Astorino in a dapper business suit with a chrome yellow tie. The twinkle in his eyes and the smile in his face are meant to assure you that he is wise yet warm. Underneath the picture, it says ‘Change is coming to Westchester’. This, I found tiresome – Obama used the word ‘Change’ so much last year that it is not only hackneyed by now, it has also begun to evoke some level of distrust after about 1 year of Obama in office, which he does not have much to show for. So, while Rob sounds like a Republican inside the pamphlet, the front cover tries nicely and foolishly to hitch him to the Obama bandwagon.

On the inside left cover, there is again a picture of Rob, jacket-less but with the same tie sitting in an office – you can catch glimpses of the window blinds, the American flag and a computer around him. He has two men sitting down facing him so we see only Rob’s face. He is animated, making a point with his left hand in the air, clutching his glasses. This is meant to project an image of a hard-working leader, who knows how to make a point. The picture has a blurb on it – ‘Lower taxes. Smarter government. Accountability to voters’. Underneath the picture, it paraphrases and repeats the same thing – ‘Rob Astorino will…Stop the tax madness, Consolidate government, Restore transparency and accountability’. This is where I got an inkling that he is a Republican, despite the repetitive ‘Change’ slogan.

There is a letter below the picture addressed to ‘Dear Neighbor’. That Rob will beat the tax horse to death is very clear by the first line of his letter – ‘As a Westchester resident, you pay the highest taxes in America’. Nothing attracts attention better than a scary fact, I guess. Then, using the tax hammer, Rob goes on to bludgeon Andy Spano, who it appears is the incumbent and perhaps Rob’s opponent in the race. It also appears that Andy loves increasing taxes and spending government money recklessly. Then, Rob pulls a neat one on Andy by saying, (as if all the above was not enough), ‘Now, he’s been caught defrauding the federal government by falsifying federal documents and misusing money’. I have no clue if this is true since Rob has not offered any details or evidence – but, in an average voter’s mind, this kind of sends the last nail into the coffin Rob is preparing for Andy.

But, Rob wants to burnish his Republican credentials further. He evokes how Westchester may soon become another ghetto by saying, ‘750 units of subsidized housing forced into our neighborhoods, costing over $100 million, overcrowding schools, and driving our property taxes even higher’.

He makes his cause personal by saying towards the end, ‘I’m from Westchester. My wife and I are raising our children here, so I care deeply about this county’s future’. At first, I thought I read ‘country’, but no, he is indeed focused on the ‘county’, as he should be.

Just when the letter was ending on a glorious personal note, he props up Obama’s specter again by saying, ‘After 12 years of Andy Spano, it’s time for a change.’ This line is underlined too, meaning Rob wanted this one to grab most attention of the reader. He may not have the best creative writing team in town but he does owe a debt of gratitude to Obama’s.

The inside right cover lists his leadership credentials – all his singular achievements as well as the posts across various community bodies. His current source of bread-and-butter seems to be ‘Executive, Sirius – XM Satellite Radio’. Underneath, another picture, this time with a red tie, waving his hands purposely while speaking with someone (whose face is actually shown but not named) about something Sirius, I presume.

The back cover is the most interesting of all – a bit of Americana. The title is ‘The Astorino Family’. Here is the only picture of Rob without a tie – understandably, as the candidate must be portrayed as a family man also – not just all work and no play. Rob stands with his wife Sheila, both grasping one each of their two adorable kids, all of them looking genuinely happy. Such a portrayal is not just time-honored in the US, it is time-hallowed.

Yes, you want your leader to have a heart but, you do not elect someone for his skill at raising children. So, back to work and the pamphlet ends with Rob in a suit and tie, gesticulating and his lips pursed open to say, “Join me in bringing change to Westchester.” Ah, not again! Bring on some big money fella, not change!!

I thought the pamphlet was seeking only votes but the last blurb made it clear that Rob’s campaign would not mind your wallet alongside. It says, ‘To donate please make checks payable to: Friends of Rob Astorino.’ I wouldn’t have known why Rob’s friends need my money but for the fine print on the back cover that said discreetly: ‘Paid for by friends of Rob Astorino’ – all of them waiting to get their pound of flesh, if he gets elected.


Written by serialbus

November 11, 2009 at 11:39 am

One Response

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  1. He won by 16 points.


    November 11, 2009 at 4:52 pm

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