Adieu, George Winner
He’d be sitting in the chamber, and it would appear as though he wasn’t paying attention to the debate, but then he’d jump up and say:
“Madame Speaker, Madame Speaker, please…”
“The Chair recognizes Mr. Winner.”
“Madame Speaker, this is an outrage!”
And then Mr. Winner, in a seamless monologue, would rip apart an unsuspecting Democrat.
He was merciless in exposing hypocrisy. He was snide and condescending in pointing out weak or phony arguments. He would throw his hands in the air in expressions of disgust and ridicule, and it was a beautiful thing.
He was so good at it that whenever the Republicans really needed someone to carry the day in a floor debate, they turned to him. Winner was the man in the Assembly and later in the Senate, and everybody knew it.
Winner will be gone soon, and it occurs to us that somebody should say or do something to mark his retirement.
And the only thing we could think to do is, of course, launch into a broadside attack against him. (He’ll understand that a parting shot, which he didn’t see coming, is our highest form of compliment.)
In this regard, Mr. Winner is now among those who are insisting that prison inmates be counted for purposes of apportionment. This is an outrage. There’s no good reason for counting inmates who are actually prohibited from voting as resident citizens. The only rationale is a partisan one. Not counting them further diminishes the number of seats in Republican strongholds upstate where prisons are located. It’s pure politics, and Mr. Winner knows it.
As a measure of his hypocrisy on this topic, all one has to do is consider the fact that a decade or so ago, Mr. Winner was among those most aggressively pandering on the topic of the 51st state. Upstate lawmakers were insisting that the region secede. And their line was: “The only thing the downstate gives us is criminals and garbage and we’re not sure which one is worse.”
And so we ask Mr. Winner: “How can you mock the inmates at one point in time and then try to claim them as an upstate birthright at another point? It’s an outrage. It’s hypocrisy at its worst. It’s…”
Alas, our mini-diatribe is nowhere near as good as what George Winner could have mustered instantaneously if he wanted. But that’s the point, and that’s why we’re going to miss him so much.