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The Dark Prince Returneth

November 7, 2010

In much the same way that we bought into the Spitzer myth four years ago, we also bought into the Cuomo myth.

We’re talking about the reinvention of Andrew Cuomo as a mature and mellow guy, a man who endured hardship and became a better person as a result.

We were rather skeptical about this at first. That’s because we knew his history of being ruthless.

But the Cuomo we saw during campaign was different. He was reserved and reflective. He said the right things about cooperation and collegiality. And there were all those wonderful pictures of him and his daughters in which he seemed, well, almost likable.

It didn’t take long for him to return to form once elected.

We’re talking about the NY Post article today that has unidentified forces in the Assembly massing for a coup against Sheldon Silver. The message is clear. Silver better do what Andrew wants, or else.

This article bore all the marks of Cuomo manipulation – right down to obligatory phony denial placed in the story as if to say: “See, I had nothing to do with it.”

The best part of the article was the part about Silver actually contemplating his own retirement in two years. This was designed purely to get possible rivals thinking about succession.  It was too cute, but then, that’s a Cuomo mark, as well.

Alas, we shouldn’t be surprised by this. After all, this is the real Cuomo. This is what he does best — he undermines those who stand in his way.

He undermined Spitzer with his bogus Troopergate report that whitewashed Bruno’s misuse of state resources and accused Spitzer’s people of impropriety in releasing public records. (A Post crusade.)

He undermined Paterson, spreading rumors about scandalous conduct in the Executive Mansion. (A Post crusade)

He undermined the Senate Democrats, depriving them of the resources they needed in this election cycle and constantly running against the legislature as corrupt. (A Post crusade.)

Now don’t get us wrong.  We’re not suggesting that Spitzer, Paterson and the Senate Dems didn’t contribute mightily to their own downfalls. They certainly did. It’s just that when people trip up, Cuomo always seems to be standing nearby, and always seems to benefit.

The lessons for Mr. Silver?

First, have no illusions about Cuomo. This is what he does. This is the way it is going to be from now on.

Second, is your team ready? Well, nobody thinks so. The mark of your operation is that it can’t respond quickly to anything. You must improve on that to survive.

Third, don’t mess up. If you give Cuomo an opening to get rid of you, he’ll take it.

Lastly, you have to stand for something. Nobody will root for you if this is just about protecting yourself and the status quo. It has to be about something larger, something that is important to New Yorkers.


6 Comments leave one →
  1. Mark Keister permalink
    November 7, 2010 3:22 PM

    “Important to New Yorkers”? the only New Yorkers that count are taken care of. The rest is simple chaff to the elect.

  2. crumbs permalink
    November 7, 2010 5:31 PM

    The best thing that could happen to NY is for Silver to be replaced.

    • Anonymous permalink
      November 7, 2010 7:05 PM

      My money is on Silver.

  3. Adina Djukanovic permalink
    November 8, 2010 12:52 AM

    Why shouldn’t Silver be overthrown? I voted for Cuomo with that in mind. Although I have no illusions about how difficult it will be to uproot that man. He stands for nothing but power as an end in itself.

  4. Assemblyman Michael Benjamin permalink
    November 8, 2010 10:54 PM

    After almost eight years in the Assembly, I still don’t get this animus towards Speaker Silver. He and Assembly Democrats were a bulwark against Governor Pataki and Majority Leader Bruno. He has lead the Assembly Majority in protecting Democratic party principles (although they caved in reauthorizing the death penalty in 1995). Despite his personal support for the death penalty, Speaker Silver acquiested to the Majority conference opposition to fixing the death penalty statute. The death penalty, although not repealed, is judicially null and void. Silver could not bend the conference to his will.

    I have taken public policy positions contrary to Speaker Silver where I won some and lost some. Would I unseat him? No. Previous efforts to displace Speaker Silver relied on a coalition of upstate Members, BPRHA Caucus members and the GOP minority conference. This latest trial balloon as described by the NY Post seems to be the same triangulation.

    Speaker Silver is a pragmatic political leader. Pragmatism is not to be sneered at. Ideological adherence leads to gridlock. He has assembled –not inherited– a professional central staff that runs circles around their counterparts. Our state constitution invests enormous executive power in our governor. The people require a strong Legislature as a counterbalance. This is a hallmark of our federal republic. I would urge my colleagues to dance with the one who brung ya’ and stick with Speakere Silver.


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