The lines between politics and entertainment are always hard to distinguish, but things got a whole lot blurrier on Nov. 7, when radio host and Guardian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa threw his beret into the political ring by announcing that he is considering a run for city public advocate.
If he wins the 2009 race, Sliwa says he will abolish the position.
“My first day of office would be to tell everyone to pack up and go to the employment line because there is no more public advocate,” Sliwa told the Brooklyn Young Republicans at Peggy O’Neill’s on Fifth Avenue.
The news that such a high profile name had formally dedicated himself to the Republican cause had the crowd cheering as if their hair were on fire (then again, what else is Sliwa supposed to do, given that he’s about to lose his WABC morning show to the “reformed” Don Imus?).
But more than running for any specific office, Sliwa spoke to the mostly middle-aged Young Republicans in a broader context of reclaiming the conservatism grassroots base — rooted in a philosophy of individualism — a message that many of today’s Republicans have shunned.
But whether Sliwa is a Conservative purist or a self-aggrandizing hack, as his critics allege, isn’t as clear.
This is the same Sliwa who admitted he had staged publicity stunts to get media attention for the Guardian Angels, including having his older sister pose as a mugging victim whose purse was returned to her by an Angel.
It is also worth nothing that Sliwa’s Angels, which he founded in the late 1970s while the Brooklyn Prep HS dropout was working as a night manager at a Bronx McDonald’s, have also made the city safer.
Whatever the case, Sliwa’s famed rapid-fire speaking style held the Youngish Republicans in thrall. He walked back and forth with the sort of tense, tightly coiled energy that suggested a snake about to strike.
Of course, he had to know that his red meat message of shrinking government would be well received.
“He came to our little bar in Bay Ridge and spoke to our group like he was speaking to the hundreds of thousands of listeners he is accustomed to speaking with every day,” said club Vice President Britta Vander Linden. “We were glad to know he was serious about getting involved.”
Maybe. Maybe not. One bad sign (at least according to this free market, school voucher, gold-standard-loving columnist) was that the one time Sliwa interrupted his fire and brimstone was to plug his upcoming “reality show” about his Guardian Angels patrolling New Orleans that is going to be taking the slot left open on A&E cable with the demise of “Dog the Bounty Hunter.”
“They can’t keep me down,” Sliwa told the crowd.
That might be true, but the months ahead will determine whether Sliwa is serious about embedding himself with the Republican cause or if Bay Ridge is just another stop in his own personal reality show.
Matthew Lysiak is a writer who lives in Bay Ridge.
The Kitchen Sink
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The sale of Griswold’s restaurant, which is located on Third Avenue near 78th Street, is rumored to be on hold, but unfortunately, it looks like the chances of the Sink’s favorite rib shine reopening are between slim and none. …
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