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A Sad Thing to Watch

May 28, 2015

The LCA was captivated by Mayor DeBlasio’s visit to the Capitol. And after that, reporters engaged in yet another animated twitter spat with the Governor’s press office over something trivial.

What reporters all but missed was Attorney General Schneiderman’s ethics proposal earlier in day. It was truly significant, although not for reasons related to the substance of the proposal.

Schneiderman basically repackaged old proposals in the context of recent scandals. It was a move to further ingratiate himself with The Left. It was a shot against the Governor and the leaders. It was a media event that won’t translate into approval of legislation. And yet, it was somehow fitting and appropriate for him to do it.

That’s because the Governor and the legislative leaders invited his action. They did that by rejecting the possibility of ethics reform this year. Their public posture should have been a simple: “Reform is an ongoing process to which we are committed.” Instead, they seemed to dismiss the need for change.

So Schneiderman and his allies had a clear opening to stand up and say that the people in power in Albany just don’t get it. Schneiderman and his allies pointed to 30 state lawmakers plus Skelos and Silver who have run into trouble in recent years and said: Something must be done!

Never mind that most of those 30 cases are personal failings by lawmakers and not matters of “corruption.”  Never mind that no law could have prevented the Skelos situation and others.

The Silver case does raise the matter of outside income and here Schneiderman actually adds something to the debate by saying: Let’s ban all outside income and raise the salaries for lawmakers.

That’s a legitimate response. But is it really doable? Are lawmakers who happen to be lawyers, doctors, dentists, undertakers, real estate agents, etc., going to vote to give up their careers and businesses? Not likely.

Maybe the prohibition on outside income should be more narrowly drawn. Maybe it should pertain only to outside income that is connected to the state in some way. This would more directly speak to those whom Preet says have “monetized” their office.

If Schneiderman focused on this, it would have been really incisive his part. Instead, what he did was basically posturing. But it was ballsy and effective posturing and it had broader significance.

This is bigger than Schneiderman. This is The Left re-asserting itself and finally going its own way.  They got Schneiderman to take the lead in pressing for the ethics reforms they’ve always sought. Their reforms would weaken the power of corporations, while enhancing the power of unions. Their dream (an admirable one) is that this will lead to a flowering of progressive legislation.

Why is this significant? It’s because Schneiderman and the leaders of The Left went around the sitting Democratic governor. Think about it – on an issue that cuts to the core of politics in the state, a major sector of the Governor’s political base just walked out on him.

Make no mistake about it, they knew exactly what they were doing. Progressives, unions, the WFP, leading Dems, they all just abandoned Cuomo. And that hasn’t happened before. Sure, there’s been grousing. Sure, there have been uprisings. There was the whole WFP – Zephyr Teachout thing. But there’s never been a situation like this where major players have totally broken with the Governor. (They even pointed the finger back at Cuomo as part of the problem on ethics.)

And here’s the crazy thing: Did Cuomo even know this was happening?  Does he now understand what happened?

The Governor, once a consummate political player, once a guy one step ahead of everyone, once a person who knew instinctively how everything would play out and be perceived, now seems bizarrely and pitifully distracted, even hapless.

The recent images of him with his sick companion underscore this. It was a situation in which everyone wanted to feel sympathy for him and her, but he turned it into a negative. The media was ridiculously overdone, and, frankly, creepy with all those images of him posing in a tie with a sick woman and posing flamboyantly with a bird.

Even friends and supporters of Cuomo were saying: “What is he thinking?”

This has actually been a dominant theme for months. What’s he thinking on Moreland? On the continuing feud with teachers? On the petulant needling of DeBlasio?

Most troubling, the whole Cuomo narrative, the brand – which is that he “gets results” – is on the verge of becoming a joke and he doesn’t see it.

Cuomo, who accomplished so much in his first few years, is now in sharp decline not only in the polls but in his own camp. (The wife of his top aide just went to work for his chief rival and he didn’t even know it.)

Now a lot of haters are crowing about Cuomo’s decline. But for our group, it really is a sad thing to watch. Our hope is that he somehow finds himself and rallies, but the first step, always, is realizing that there’s a problem.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Anonymous permalink
    June 1, 2015 12:57 AM

    He’s a mean vindictive man, and that offsets whatever good he’s done. The Left should find their manhood and oust him in the 2018 Dem Primary. A sane and sensible progressive – preferably not a NYC textbook liberal – and someone with a warm personality.

    Then.. a close, balanced fall election between Chris Gibson and that Democrat. A 51-49 race that energizes the State. Lots of debates. Lots of in the field campaigning.

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