Melancon and Paladino Illustrate What's Wrong With Politics

It's unfortunate the voters of Louisiana and New York don't have other choices.

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Democratic Louisiana Rep. Charlie Melancon and New York Republican Carl Paladino are both waging uphill battles in their races (for senator and governor, respectively). But both went too far this week in their efforts to win come November 2. They illustrate in real time what is wrong with American politics and why so many Americans are turned off by politics as usual.

Melancon is challenging incumbent Republican Sen. David Vitter. The most recent polling suggests Vitter, who Democrats targeted early, has a comfortable lead. 

[See who donates the most money to Vitter.]

Louisiana unemployment is up and the state will be reeling from the effects of the BP oil spill for years to come. New Orleans is still not fully recovered from Hurricane Katrina, and the housing crisis is real, with 1 in 10 homes in the state for sale as the result of foreclosure.

So instead of hammering Vitter on why he has not done more to help Cajun voters in these areas or others, Melancon this week released an ad reminding voters of Vitter's indiscretions with prostitutes several years ago. As if they could have forgotten, even if they wanted to.

Vitter is no boy scout. But sadly, few politicians are. Voters have repeatedly shown they don't care too much about an elected official's private life, unless it concerns their taxpayer dollars. So while Vitter has run as a family man in the past and still proudly displays pictures of his wife and children on his web pages,  reminding voters of a between-the-sheets scandal that took place before Miley Cyrus was on anyone's radar when voters are more worried about next month's rent is beyond desperate. 

On the other hand, Paladino isn't even in the same universe as desperate. Instead he is angry, frustrated, and clearly unnerved. Recent polling on his race against state New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo has suggested it might be closer than some expected. Like Vitter, though, he is no saint. He announced earlier this year he had a child as a result of an extramarital affair 10 years ago. 

Paladino wants the daughter off limits to the media and told Politico earlier this week that he wishes the press would hound his opponent about the "paramours" he had while still married. Cuomo divorced Robert Kennedy's daughter Kerry several years ago amidst reports that she was having an affair. No one, before Paladino, had questioned Cuomo's fidelity. He later went after a New York beat reporter, saying he would "take him out" if he didn't leave his daughter alone.

Whoever wins the race to Albany will be the fourth governor the state has had in five years. There are nearly 9.7 million residents unemployed, many of whom live upstate in an area almost entirely forgotten by the masses. And Paladino wants to talk about Cuomo's sex life? Really?

None of these guys, none of them, are role models. It's unfortunate the voters of Louisiana and New York don't have other choices. It's clear by their behaviors they only think of themselves and are treating a seat in the U.S. Senate and the governor's office as if they were seats on the seventh grade student council. 

Talk about underwater mortgages. Talk about how the businesses with 24 employees and enough money to hire perhaps one or two more aren't because they don't know how the new health care laws are going to affect them. Debate the Bush-era tax cuts, immigration reform and job restoration in Binghamton and Saranac Lake and along the Gulf Coast.

[Read more about immigration reform.]

Voters are angry. Ask Mike Castle about just how angry they are. The election next month is about the future and how we as a nation get there. There are real problems facing Americans every day, and caring about satin sheets is a luxury voters—no pun intended—simply can't afford. What they do care about is having a roof over their heads. It's about time these politicians cared about that too.

  • See an opinion slide show of the bad candidates of 2010.
  • Follow the money in Congress.
  • Check out a roundup of political cartoons on the 2010 campaigns.