November 15, 2007

Spitzer's Arrogance

The local Greater Niagara Newspaper group often prints editorials from other newspapers. While we have no interest in emulating GNN, here is an editorial with a very different perspective of Governor Spitzer from what one usually gets with GNN:

ELIOT'S ARROGANCE DOOMED BY HIS CONTEMPT

The best you can say about Gov. Spitzer's now- scrapped plan to give driver's licenses to illegal aliens is that it emerged out of a (profoundly confused) idea that it would somehow make Americans safer. That's the best you can say.

Less kind is that it was the product of testosterone-charged cynicism, hubris and self-righteousness - which led to a stunning miscalculation of how folks would react.

Spitzer is no dummy - a graduate of Princeton and Harvard Law, he managed a 1590 out of 1600 on his SATs and a perfect score on his LSATs. So the correct explanation should be obvious: This scion of power and privilege has utterly no regard for the common man's ability to think for himself.

What he has is contempt: People will believe what he tells them to believe - to hell with the facts. To hell with logic and sound reasoning. The public just needs to be spun. And opponents, bullied.

That's what the Dirty Tricks campaign - where his communications director, Darren Dopp, had the State Police dig up "dirt" on state Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno, the gov's political foe - was all about.

To Spitzer, it didn't really matter whether Dopp acted on his own initiative or in response to media requests. (Albany DA David Soares now appears to be probing whether Dopp's claim that he was merely following up on requests amounts to perjury.)

To Spitzer, it made no difference that the accusation against Bruno - that he wrongly used state helicopters for personal political purposes - was groundless, since the Ethics Commission had blessed the practice for years. (Indeed, Spitzer himself had used state aircraft for political purposes.)

What mattered to the gov and his people was getting a negative headline out of the charge - so that people would think ill of Bruno. That's all that counted - it was all for the greater good, you see.

That same reasoning seems to have been at work in many of Spitzer's cases when he was attorney general. He'd threaten Wall Street firms with civil or even criminal charges, and count on the firms to settle with him to make the headache - and the bad publicity - go away. That strategy generally worked - even if the charges were baseless.

But in the driver's-license scheme, the facts mattered - and bullying couldn't get the gov his fix. Let's be honest: Spitzer couldn't truly believe that the proper response to 9/11 - when foreign terrorists infiltrated our borders and used driver's licenses to help carry out their bloody plot - is to issue more driver's licenses to foreigners who've already broken the law by being here illegally.

Yes, he might have convinced himself that his plans' high-tech security measures would provide sufficient protection. He might even have a genuine soft spot for immigrants - "like all four of my grandparents," as Spitzer put it yesterday, who do "hard and sometimes back-breaking work."

He may truly want to find ways to address the fiasco of 12 million illegals "living in the shadows" - a million in New York alone. But his claims still didn't add up. One of his chief arguments for his plan was that licensing illegals would put their names and addresses on file - so authorities would know who they are and where they live.

Gee: Would Spitzer suggest giving guns to felons or mob suspects on the theory that they'd have to fill out forms, thus helping cops track them? Not likely. No, illegal immigrants aren't necessarily felons; most probably aren't dangerous. But all of them have broken the law. And some of them are dangerous.

Far more likely is that Spitzer thought he could rally the pro-immigrant community and liberals to support him at a time when he was bleeding politically, thanks to the Dirty Tricks scandal.

Oops. Fully 70 percent of New York voters weren't buying it this time - and, worse, he was losing support even from fellow Democrats (particularly after the issue put Sen. Hillary Clinton on the spot and apparently cost her support).

So yesterday, he withdrew the plan. But he stuck to his delusions of righteousness: "In New York," he said, there are "1 million undocumented immigrants, many of whom are driving without a license and without insurance."

He claimed he continues to believe his plan "is principally the right thing to do to make our roads safer and our state more secure." And he again blamed "hyperpartisanship" and fear-mongers for attacking the plan.

Spitzer doesn't learn.

Back in August, he gave a remarkable speech - on "the need for both passion and humility in politics." In it, he essentially admitted that his own confidence in the correctness of his views and policies may have led him and his staff to cross the line - for "the greater good."

But in pushing a cynical license scheme that would've exposed New Yorkers (and the nation) to greater risk, he may have deluded himself yet again.

Fortunately, he failed to delude the public.

NY Post

4 comments:

Fat Tony said...

Count me among the guilty who voted for him but are now enjoying him get some measure of comeuppance. He reeks of arrogance and bullying. He makes you root against him even if you don't like those he's fighting with. You want to see him get knocked down a few pegs. You want to see him be both strong, yet humble.

As of right now, he's a disaster.

Larry S said...

Hell, he's the best ally the GOP has!

Pete M said...

It certainly is nice to get an objective opinion from a newspaper that doesn't have it's proverbial nose up Spitzer's rear.

Thanks for another view point.

Party of Lincoln said...

I see he dropped his Internet sales tax plan and his efforts to negotiate parole for violent prisoners.

Maybe the fog is lifting.