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Wherefore Art Thou?

July 21, 2010

We know a fellow who has been married for 51 years, and he still has great respect and affection for his wife. If you ask him for the secret of a good relationship, he’ll tell you that he keeps an old photograph of his wife in his wallet. It’s a picture of her at 17, when he first met her.  He’ll explain that whenever his wife gets sour, and he’s tempted to say something negative, he’ll take out the photo and remember how she used to be “just like candy.” 

If you ask him whether his wife has a similar memento, he says: “She doesn’t need one as long as I’m respectful toward her.” 

This is a corny, but true story that Governor Paterson should reflect upon. No, we’re not talking about his own marriage, but his stormy relationship with the lady that is the New York State Legislature.    

Rather than being respectful and cooperative toward the legislature, Governor Paterson is insisting on getting his way and is getting nowhere. His confrontational approach was underscored today when his office issued yet another news release asserting the governor’s constitutional power to compel the lawmakers to return to Albany in special session to address the remaining budget bill and other legislative matters. 

Paterson needs to remember the advice of our elderly Romeo. Specifically, he should remember that time not that long ago when he was sworn into office in the packed and adoring Assembly chamber.  Here’s description of that scene on March 17, 2008 by the New York Times: 

ALBANY — Lt. Gov. David A. Paterson ascended to New York’s highest office on Monday, pledging civility and unity in government to an ecstatic and palpably relieved gathering of state lawmakers and officials. 

“What we are going to do from now on is what we always should have done: We are going to work together,” Mr. Paterson said. “With conviction in our brains and compassion in our hearts and the love for New York on our sleeves, we will dedicate ourselves to principle but always maintain the ability to listen.” 

“Let us grab the unusual opportunities that circumstance has handed us today and put personal politics, party advantage and power struggles aside, in favor of service, in the interests of the people,” Mr. Paterson said. 

The Times and other media quoted lawmakers, all of whom sounded love struck:

Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno said of Paterson’s speech: “I think it’s a great relief. It’s like a new day. The sun is shining.”

Assembly Member Herman D. Farrell (D-Manhattan) said: “Life under Spitzer was too hostile. We didn’t need that. We need someone who understands and respects the institution and that’s David.” 

Assembly Minority Leader James Tedisco said: “While he may have ascended to the governorship of New York state under the most extraordinary of circumstances, David is a leader of extraordinary ability who has proven time and again that he can bring people together.” 

If only Paterson and the lawmakers could recapture a little bit of the spirit from that day in March of 08…

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