Six months into his term, Spitzer has squandered the tremendous political capital he had in November. If that was Day One, is today Day Two for Spitzer?
Gov. Eliot Spitzer indefinitely suspended his communications director and reassigned another top official today after Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo’s office issued a scathing report accusing the governor’s staff of using the State Police for political purposes… The report said that the governor’s staff ordered the State Police to keep special records of Senate majority leader Joseph L. Bruno’s whereabouts when he traveled with police escorts in New York City and to recreate records if they did not exist. The report said that the acting superintendent of police, Preston Felton, took an unprecedented role in assisting requests from the governor’s staff and the media for information related to the Senator’s whereabouts. And the report concluded that there was an orchestrated campaign by the governor’s office to obtain and provide information to the news media, with the help of the State Police, to essentially discredit Mr. Bruno, the state’s top Republican.
Over at The Albany Project, before news of the report was announced, several of us were engaged in a discussion of what Democratic control of all three branches of Albany government would mean, were it ever to happen. Had the Democrats done any message-building work at all? I didn’t think so, and inobody really disagreed with me. I thought, furthermore, that Spitzer wasn’t properly employing his political capital toward message-building.
Well, all that was written back when Spitzer had political capital to spend. Others will argue over the details of how much Spitzer knew and when he knew it and whether he ought to fire this or that person. I’m not concerned with that. Six months into his term, Spitzer has squandered the tremendous political capital he had in November. Well, honestly, despite not being a true acolyte of the Great Pumpkin, I’m dumbfounded. How could he do that? How can it even be possible, under the normal laws of political physics as it were, to throw that much capital out the window?
On the other hand, I’m beginning to appreciate the uniqueness of living and observing politics in a state where everyone really knows what is really going on. It’s not like national politics, where fine-sounding theories are a dime a dozen. Everyone understands the exact nature of what’s wrong with Albany. Everyone (especially upstaters) understands the stakes. Everyone understands the power plays. Nobody needs to be an insider to understand Three Men in a Room. Nobody needs special Albany contacts to get the drift. Although nobody can win under the current rules, anyone can play. And nobody needs a blog or a columnist or a pundit to tell them what Spitzer has just managed to do to himself. He knows, they know and we know.