Bill O'Reilly is a Newsday columnist and Republican political consultant struggling to hold onto his own name. He is no relation to Bill O'Reilly, the Fox News commentator.
This time Baldwin's considerations are for real, though, "very real" his brother Billy Baldwin assured CNN this week. There's just that temperament thing to consider.
No one expects the volatile Alec Baldwin to run next year, of course. For one thing he's newly married -- to a 28-year-old yoga instructor. Baldwin is 54. He may not survive the honeymoon. He's also been floating and withdrawing his name for public offices for more than 20 years. When he's not doing that, he's threatening to move to Canada.
But why shouldn't Baldwin run? He's clearly interested in public policy; he's been spouting off on issues for years. He knows how to capture headlines. And, as much as some of us may dislike his liberal rants, he's one of the funniest people on television today and would add some color to a race whose palate is currently government-issue, metal-desk dull gray. Baldwin's entrance into the race would be a shock of bright paint across that cheerless background. What fun!
Kelsey Grammer should run, too, for that matter. A rumor was floated a while back that he was interested. Who cares that the "Frasier" star turned conservative activist has been married four times. He's got an infectious laugh and does great standup. He and Baldwin could do a debate routine on the City Hall steps that would put the boroughs in stitches. They could be just what New York needs to get voters interested in, well, voting again -- kind of like William F. Buckley Jr. in 1965 or Norman Mailer in 1969, but using language and insults that average voters can actually understand.
At the end of last month, federal elections were held around New York State. In a GOP U.S. Senate primary, about 5 percent of Republicans turned out statewide (I worked for Rep. Bob Turner, who was running in this race). Most of the turnout came from upstate and Western, New York, where a hot congressional primary brought out a whopping one in 10 Republican voters. In Westchester, New York City and on Long Island, things were worse. A neighbor emailed me at 7 a.m. on Primary Day to tell me he had voted for my candidate and was the first at the polling site to cast a vote. I was No. 2, six hours later. A New York City Councilman called to report that he was the first voter in his election district to cast a ballot at 3 p.m.
Democrats in New York City fared slightly better. Energized by two highly publicized and contentious House primaries, they managed to turn out voters in the "low double digits," according to preliminary news reports.
We blame this on the candidates, of course. They failed to captivate us. Besides, no one told us there was a June 26 primary -- right? But if it were Alec Baldwin vs. Kelsey Grammer, I suspect we would've known. And we probably could've hit the 30 percent mark at least.
The United States is $16 trillion in debt and we are borrowing 40 cents of every dollar we spend. But if that crisis isn't enough to get New York voters to fulfill their most basic civic duty, we might as well try Alec Baldwin.