Gov. Eliot Spitzer must be politically tone deaf. The more we see this man in action, the more it seems that he can’t possibly make it past one term.
His first misstep was the comptroller appointment fight he had with Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. I actually thought Spitzer was right to challenge Silver on this issue. But when he didn’t get his way with the Democratic-controlled state legislature and Tom DiNapoli was given the job, the governor reacted in a bullying fashion. Assemblyman George Latimer of Rye took the brunt of this almost immediately after the legislature voted. Spitzer showed Latimer up by holding an unrelated press conference in Latimer’s district without notifying him. Then he basically told me that Latime would have to shape up if he expected the governor’s support in the next election.
This was a troubling sign of things to come. Then there was “Trooper-gate” with Republican Majority Leader Sen. Joe Bruno, which was extraordinary in that it showed how vindictive motives can backfire. In attempt to expose corruption, Spitzer released the foul smell of corruption in his own office. It almost made me sympathize with Bruno…no mean feat.
By taking on the powerful Bruno and Silver, Spitzer, one presumes, was merely trying to break the political gridlock that has earned the state of New York the embarassing title of having the most dysfunctional government in the nation. But Spitzer blew it, pure and simple. He picked the wrong fights, hit below the belt, rabbit punched and cried foul …and then when he lost those silly battles, he failed to quickly cut his losses to minimize the damage to his administration.
Angering the Albany power brokers was one thing, but Spitzer turned around and angered the voters, too. The tug-of-war over granting driver’s licenses to undocumented workers was a monumental debacle, proving that despite his huge victory in the election, Spitzer simply does not have his finger on the pulse of the every day citizen in New York.
And it gets even worse. Just the other day, Spitzer tried to mend fences with the Assembly Democrats. What does he do? He tells them they deserve a raise!
Forget about the fact that they are part-timers and that many of them receive stipends over and above their base salaries of $79,500. And don’t get bogged down on the question of whether or not they deserve a raise. I don’t know, maybe they do.
But while he’s talking about handing out pay raises, the state university system has just raised tuition five percent! That’s what I mean about tone deaf.
I wonder how many parents who send their kids to SUNY colleges are getting a pay raise next year.
On the positive side, Spitzer did preserve the $2 subway fare, though other fares going up.
Nevertheless, the governor is a disappointment so far. Perhaps the expectations were too high. He bravely took on the crooks and chiselers on Wall Street and won. That was quite an accomplishment, and it put him in the governor’s chair.
Please pardon my tortured alliteration, but now he looks more and more like an ordinary pol, prone to pettiness and pandering.