November 10, 2009

Political Advice For David Paterson

Elected officials don't always have to be politically savvy. It helps, but it's not necessarily a given when running for or holding office. It's quite obvious that Governor David Paterson has little political instinct. Not that this is incredibly shocking to anyone, but what I do find astounding is the political ineptitude of the people he has advising him.

Because I can't bear to see you continue to flounder I'm going to help you out, Dave. Please be assured, this not not because I have any interest in seeing you run for or win the governor's seat next year, but simply because it's painful watching you attempt to force what little political will you have on the Senate and Assembly.

Take for instance this piece from Tom Precious. It begins with "A somber Gov. David A. Paterson on Monday urged a rare joint session of the State Legislature to join him in making the unpopular decisions necessary to erase the state's $3.2 billion budget deficit." No, no, no, Dave. We don't want somber - we want defiant! When the press uses the adjective "somber", it makes people sad - it makes us think we're at a funeral, Dave. Do you want us to think that you are delivering New York State's eulogy?

It's courageous to state that you "will mortgage my political career on this plan, but I will not mortgage the fate of the State of New York", Dave. But you know and I know that there is very little in your plan that puts your political career on the line. You're not calling for tort reform, you're not clamoring for revisions to Wicks Law, Taylor Law or Scaffold Law and you're not pounding the lectern demanding the massive overhaul of Medicaid that is absolutely key to the state getting on a course of fiscal stability.

What you are doing is making suggested "cuts" that do nothing except pass the expenses on to the local governments. That's not reform, Dave, it's cowardice.

But let's get back to the political spin. If you truly are willing to put your political career on the line, use the bully pulpit.

All 212 legislators are up for re-election in less than a year, and they're scared. They know that the people sent a serious message last Tuesday that the status quo is not acceptable. What you need to be doing is using your power of access to the media to start shaming these guys into getting what you need done. If that doesn't work, stand up and tell everyone of them that you will do everything within your power to campaign against any of them that refuse to enact substantive changes and reforms.

At this point, they'd probably laugh at you because, no offense, you have virtually no power at this moment. But this isn't a sprint, Dave, it's a marathon. If you continue to fight the fight against Albany dysfunction, people will come around.

You must be willing to stand up to the public sector unions. The influence they have the ability to wield is significant and relevant, and they have boatloads of money to dump into campaigns.

If you are sincere with your willingness to mortgage your political career, none of this should be difficult. Unfortunately my cynicism has gotten the better of me and I think you'll fall back into the same old routine. Please prove me wrong, Dave - please show me some defiance.

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