After an assassin jumped onstage and attempted to stab the Republican candidate for Governor of New York, Lee Zeldin, the question was never if the assailant would get out of jail, but when. Zeldin himself predicted, correctly, that the suspect would be released without bail. It happened within 18 hours.
If one were to enter a political laboratory and concoct a more perfect campaign talking point, you would be hard pressed to find one better than this. A man tries to stab a candidate for governor who is running on a platform on being tough on crime and is released under the very laws that the candidate is running against. If not for the U.S. Attorney stepping in and re-arresting the attacker, there was nothing stopping him from trying again.
While there is yet to be evidence that the attack was explicitly political, as opposed to the current evidence detailing the attacker’s cognitive decline and mental health issues, every New Yorker should fear for their own safety after this series of events. If a high-profile person such as a gubernatorial candidate cannot be kept safe, and his attacker be held on at least some type of bail, what recourse does anyone else have? Literally anyone can be attacked, or mugged, or worse, and the criminal (if even caught) will be back on the streets within hours.
This is not hyperbole. This has been happening since the bail law went into effect a few years ago. Immediately, stories of assailants released after assault and battery charges committing additional crimes before their court date became common. One woman was arrested and released threee days in a row on three different assault crimes. Violent crime is up by double digits.
Voters obviously don’t want this. In Nassau County, one of the architects of the bail reform law, Todd Kaminsky, was demolished in his bid to become Nassau District Attorney. In Buffalo, a write-in campaign kept the far-left candidate from becoming Mayor. And in New York City, Eric Adams was seen to be the “tough on crime” candidate from among the Democrats running.
Yet none of this is alleviating the issue. Despite calls to do so, Governor Kathy Hochul refuses to take simple measures that would give police a greater ability to protect people. She refuses to fire Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg, who has been abysmal in his performance. (Firing Bragg is the first thing Zeldin claims he will do after being sworn in.) She had an opportunity to back a repeal of some of the more radical portions of the bail law, and she refused to do so. Hochul, who is campaigning as a moderate, is anything but.
If there was any ideological consistency, there would be accusations blaming Hochul herself for the attack on Zeldin. The day before the rally where Zeldin was assaulted, Hochul’s campaign sent out a bizarre campaign mailer, saying that “Big Lie Lee and his entourage of extremists kick off the statewide ‘MAGA Republican’ bus tour, which will make stops across the state peddling dangerous lies, misinformation, and his far-right agenda.” The email could have been written by the most extreme voices on the Left, pushing rhetoric that attempts to paint Zeldin as a danger.
The email goes on to instruct the reader to “RSVP” to specific campaign events, accusing Zeldin of election fraud, being anti-women, and trying to put guns on the streets. And of course, his greatest crime: being a Trump supporter. The email specified dates and times to these events as well.
It does not take a wild imagination to envision the coverage if the parties were reversed. If the Zeldin campaign sent out an email as inflammatory and an assailant attempted to stab Hochul the next day, would that story have disappeared as quickly as this one? Would it be relegated to local news, a sideshow? Or would this be national news, with every elected Republican in the country being asked to denounce Zeldin?
No imagination is needed, because this happens consistently. Aside from the sham show-trial of the January 6 committee, which is attempting to lynch former President Trump on the public arena (and on the taxpayers’ dime), there was also the Gabby Giffords incident from 2011, which was blamed on Sarah Palin, and the Buffalo shooting, which was blamed on Tucker Carlson.If there is a tenuous connection between an attacker and the right-wing, that connection would be made, but this doesn’t happen on the left. The Congressional baseball shooting was not blamed on Bernie Sanders and the Dallas police shooting was not blamed on Barack Obama. If there was ideological consistency, either all of these politicians would be blamed for these attacks, or none of them would be.
A two-tiered media is one thing, but at this point, trustworthiness in the media is at an all-time low. There is only so much damage they can do (and that is still a significant amount). But a justice system that does more to protect the criminal than the victim is unsustainable. This is why New York needs a massive, sweeping change. Hopefully, voters will see that this November.
Zeldin Assassination Attempt Exemplifies Problems With New York State
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