Gatemouth: Still Vito's Useful Idiot (A Parody?)

 A few months ago I wrote a piece lamenting the mini-cult which has developed lionizing the blogger who calls himself Gatemouth.

The only thing more annoying than Gatemouth’s smug and relentless self-promotion are the seemingly endless chorus line of left wing gay bloggers (EnWhySea Wonk, Solomon Grundy, Antid Oto) queueing up to be his butt boy.  Only Michael Bouldin seems to know better, and even he was outspoken in wishing that Gatemouth come back during his recent hiatus. Hopefully, Michael has learned to be careful what he wishes for. 

And, it’s not just a gay thing.

Gatemouth is clearly the favorite bastard son of such otherwise reputable bloggers as Ben Smith, Azi Paybarah and Gur Tsabar. He even attracts regular kudos from Rock Hackshaw and Maurice Gumbs. Hackshaw and Gumbs mix this praise with criticism, but such criticism is merely “tough love”.

But the proper treatment for a disease like Gatemouth’s Syndrome is not intervention, it’s a quarantine.  As I’ve noted before, Gatemouth is Brooklyn Democratic Leader Vito Lopez’s “useful idiot”. He hides this behind a veneer of sarcasm, a waterfall of useless facts, and the occasional feigned slap, but, when push comes to shove, Gatemouth is always with Vito any time it matters, and those times when he’s not with Vito are those times when it doesn’t matter.

Most recently, Gatemouth published a four-part “Voter’s Guide”, which might as well have been printed by County, as it was essentially, and shamelessly, Vito’s palm card. 

As usual, this was disguised by meaningless gestures like a half-hearted endorsement of Tom Suozzi. Who fucking cares?

The other gesture designed to camouflage the true intent was a lukewarm and halfhearted endorsement of Mark Green buried so deep inside a three part series that by the time anyone got within a mile of it they were already fast asleep. 

Several things about the series were telling. As a peace offering, it contained an extensive (and graphic) apologia for the “Cuomo Not the Homo” scandal; and while it complained about heavy handed tactics used by Cuomo’s forces at the State Convention, it never mentioned whose heavy hands robbed Green of his 25%; any guesses who Gatemouth went in the tank for?

Anyway, Green was the choice of the Catcher-Fidler faction of regulars, so it’s not like this was in any way a true gesture of rebellion.

But, while Vito Lopez takes an interest in statewide races, it is local races where his bread is buttered and his beak is wet. And, in local races, with explainable exceptions, Gatemouth went done the line for his leader.

In the words of Al Smith, let’s look at the record:

CONGRESS:

10th CD: Vito halfheartedly supported Ed Towns (going so far to warn him about pulling out troops from a key poll site if, as expected, Towns reneged on his promises concerning judges). Gatemouth halfheartedly supported Ed Towns.

11th CD: During the course of the race, it became apparent that Vito preferred David Yassky, so he could run his aide, Alison Hirsch, for the vacancy created on the City Council. Gatemouth supported Yassky. It was also clear that Vito’s last choice was genuine reformer Chris Owens, who became a Gatemouth obsession, to the extent that, after initially feigning that Owens was his second choice, Gatey eventually proclaimed that both Carl Andrews and Yvette Clarke were to be preferred to Owens. It was also clear that Carl Andrews was Vito’s second choice. Initially, Gatemouth leveled some half-hearted criticism at Andrews, knowing that his whiter than white blog wouldn’t influence any potential Andrews voters, but, at crunch time, negative mentions of Carl virtually disappeared. Contrast this to Yvette Clarke’s treatment. Vito felt Clarke was too close to arch-enemy Bill DeBlasio. Gatemouth regularly dropped cute little jokes on Politicker and Daily Politics in which he amplified on the “Yvette is an empty suit” libel, at one point comparing her unfavorably with a bagel.

STATE SENATE:

18th SD: Vito gave a pro forma endorsement to Velmanette Montgomery. Gatemouth followed suit.

20th SD: Following the withdrawal of regular District Leader Musa Moore, Vito, smelling a victory for Eric Adams, jumped in front of the parade to appear to be leading it. Following Moore’s withdrawal, Gatemouth, who’d been critical of Adams, shrugged his shoulders and sighed.

21st SD: A county leader concerned about electeds with unsavory public images making his party look bad, and about dealing with folks whose words he can trust, Vito concluded that, on both these factors, Kevin Parker was somewhat preferable to Noach Dear. Gatemouth agreed with a similar lack of enthusiasm.  

25th SD: Marty Connor is a royal stone in Vito’s shoe, but Ken Diamondstone would be a malignant tumor requiring amputation. Vito bets on Connor; Gatemouth throws his chip into the same pot.

ASSEMBLY:

40th AD: Vito is apparently obsessed with cleaning up the party’s image, if not its operations. Word is Vito wishes Diane Gordon would go away. He may get his wish. But he would like to choose her successor, which necessitated that she receive party support. No reputable blogger could follow the same path, so Gatemouth took a dive, coming up with half mumbled excuses not even he believed.

43rd AD: The old Clarence Norman crowd is an annoyance to Vito, so he gave incumbent Karin Camara pro forma support. Gatemouth shrugged his shoulders.

46th AD: Vito put his finger in the wind and concluded Aleck Brook-Krasny was a sure winner and supported him, probably saving his campaign. Gatemouth halfheartedly jumped on the bandwagon.

56th AD: Vito’s considerable lack of enthusiasm for Annette Robinson, her co-leader Al Vann, and her son Tahaka, is balanced by an acute understanding that their lease on this property runs for lives in being plus twenty-one years; he gave Robinson pro forma support. Gatemouth dismissed her challenger as a joke (which, for a change, was actually the truth).

57th AD:  Early on, when ignorant regulars might have assumed that County would back regular district leader Freddie Hamilton, ignorant regular Gatemouth wrote a piece savaging Hakeem Jeffries.  The piece was notable mostly as a disguised defense of Andrew Cuomo in the “Cuomo Not the Homo” imbroglio (Gatemouth later wrote an undisguised defense). Later, with Vito clearly behind Jeffries, and Hamilton a sure loser, Gatemouth went out of his way to savage noble reformer Bill Batson on the thinnest of pretexts. 

59th AD: Vito loves the pernicious Jefferson Club. Gatemouth sends it a Valentine’s card. Yes, there are a few sarcastic remarks; the kind the Chairman of the Board used to make about Dino when the Rat Pack performed at the Sands.     

JUDGES:  Here’s where the deal is really sealed. Gatemouth opened with a savaging of judicial reform disguised as a plea for the same. Then the endorsements followed. At Vito’s behest, Lew Fidler concocted a palm card selling the County organization’s judicial slate, including the daughter of Diane Gordon’s co-leader, as the blue-ribbon candidates. Gatemouth magically transformed Fidler’s palm card into a thoughtful, well argued and thoroughly repugnant piece of pimp-work disguised as an essay. Plus, he took a few gratuitous slaps at Phil Smallman and John Serpico, the only real independents in the race; a thoroughly disgusting exhibition in kissing the ring of power.

A few more notes.

In virtually every out–of-Brooklyn race that was a real contest, Gatemouth either implicitly or explicitly went with the candidate backed by the bosses. The one exception being Ada Smith; no surprise there, The Flushing Tribune, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Queens organization, did exactly the same.

What's that you say? Gatemouth did a whole monologue casting doubt on Jose Rivera’s daughter? Yeah, as if she was gonna lose; and, he didn’t say not to vote for her.

And, you say Gatemouth can’t be all bad, he hates Ravi Batra. So what? That puts him in the same category with sleazy organization stalwarts like Arnie Ludwig and Doug Rosenberg. Holding someone’s coat in an internal feud within the Soprano family is not necessarily emblematic of being a reformer.

You say Gatemouth regularly makes fun of Marty Markowitz? Is there a Brooklyn regular who doesn’t do the same after a couple of drinks? Does anyone seriously believe Vito will back Markowitz for mayor? If they do, do they believe Eliot Spitzer will appoint Tom Suozzi to fill Hillary’s vacancy in the US Senate? And, anyway, Gatemouth is on the record saying Markowitz would make a good Public Advocate; doubtless, Markowitz is Vito’s choice as well.

Gatemouth, LLC, a subsidiary of the Brooklyn Organization since 2005. For more information, contact Jeff Feldman at 718-875-5870.