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November 2, 2010

“You have to look at the numbers and you have to be realistic,” said Andrew Cuomo yesterday.

Cuomo was talking about tax cuts, which he said would have to wait until the state’s fiscal situation improves, but he might also have been speaking in a broader sense about a turnaround in New York, which can’t and won’t happen overnight.

In this regard, one of the huge mistakes of Eliot Spitzer and his people was to continually build expectations for a quick turnaround.  “Day 1: Everything Changes.” Remember that?

You knew what Spitzer was trying to do, which was build momentum for change, but he set the bar impossibly high and his opponents kept saying: “Hey, it’s Day 37 and things seem pretty much the same. It’s Day 59 and things seem the same. It’s Day 104 and…”

The opponents knew that by dragging things out, they could make Spitzer look bad. Perhaps they knew as well that not realizing expectations, both the people’s expectations and those he had for himself, would drive Spitzer mad.

Cuomo must learn from this experience. He, too, wants sweeping change, but the system is not designed for it.  In fact, this was the plan of the Founders. They didn’t want revolutions every four years, they wanted stability. So they put in place checks and balances, which can also encourage inaction and even gridlock.

Energy and patience, focus and persistence, and strength and consistency are the pairings of qualities that are needed by an executive to deal with this situation and be successful.

We think Andrew Cuomo gets this, but we don’t know for sure. We hope so. We hope so.


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