Monday, March 10, 2008

Greek Tragedy

Joe Morelle got it right in his radio interview today with Bob Lonsberry.   The situation into which Governor Spitzer has placed himself is a Greek tragedy:   a figure of heroic proportions undone by his own hubris.   For the state that Spitzer leads the tragedy is deeper still.

Eliot Spitzer came to office as the one person in the state who had the right focus, the right qualities as a leader, and at the beginning, the public support, to be a real agent of the meaningful change so long overdue in New York.   It's why we supported him, even through his political troubles last year.   We recognize that "Troopergate" has been vastly overblown by the Governor's opponents.  We like the "steamroller" side of the Governor's personality.   It's going to take a steamroller to make the changes New York needs so desperately.

Now Spitzer's credibility and effectiveness as a leader are shot.   Shelly Silver is smiling tonight.   Spitzer, even if he doesn't resign, is not going to be the person who makes the changes happen.   The words "Client Number 9" will appear in the first paragraph of his obituary.

The pressure for his resignation now will come most intensely from the State Democratic Party, for which he's now a liability. Clinging to office after what we learned today only jeopardizes Democratic chances for taking control of the Senate, which appeared an accomplished certainty after the recent special election.   Of course, it makes much less difference now whether Democrats take the Senate.   The principal benefit of flipping the Senate was to eliminate the Senate as an obstacle to change, and to give Spitzer the upper hand in dealing with the Assembly, in order to win its support for changes in the way things are done in New York.

Lt. Gov. Paterson, as well-regarded as he may be by members of both parties in the capital, seems to be part of the Albany business-as-usual club.   If he has any inclination toward reform of Spitzeresque proportions, it's been well concealed so far.

Today New York lost its best chance for meaningful reform in our lifetime.

A Greek tragedy indeed.   A New York tragedy as well.

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