Kathleen Rice, the Nassau District Attorney who is running for state attorney general, met with the New York Post editorial board yesterday and volunteered the notion that she is completely unlike Eliot Spitzer.
She’s not a “bully” and not into “victory laps.” Instead, she’s reasonable and has good judgment, where Spitzer lacked it.
These comments are advantageous for Rice in the following ways: The Post still hates Spitzer and her barbs were music to the editors’ ears. Reminding people of Spitzer’s negatives may hurt the main heir to the Spitzer legacy, former top aide Eric Dinallo, who may be making some in-roads in his campaign at Rice’s expense. In addition, the criticism may help rally women voters whom Rice needs to turn out in force in the September primary.
On another level, Rice’s comments are revisionist, disingenuous and cheap.
With regard to history, we believe Spitzer was a lousy governor, but an extraordinary AG. The faults she attributes to him in terms of temperament emerged when he was governor, not AG.
With regard to politics, we think her comments are at odds with what the public really wants in an AG – someone who is a real fighter for average New Yorkers.
With regard to form, we don’t think it is ever appropriate to trash people who have left office and who aren’t part of the current debate. Of course, it happens all the time. Pataki spent the better part of 12 years citing Mario Cuomo’s “failed policies of the past.”
Some people thought it was poetic justice when Spitzer, in his inaugural remarks, noted that the state had “sleep-walked” during much of the previous decade under Pataki. Others thought this remark was unbelievably harsh and in bad form, since Pataki was in the front row for the speech.
Four years later, Spitzer’s criticism seems rather mild, but maybe it’s kharma that some AG aspirants are now taking shots at him.
Still, we don’t think it reflects well on Rice to have leveled this criticism. It struck us as pandering from someone who has yet to distinguish herself in terms of grasp of issues or vision for the office.