I think we can all stop saying, “What was he thinking?”
We know what soon to be former New York State Governor Eliot Spitzer was thinking—and it wasn’t about strategy to get his Executive Budget passed or to move any of his other legislative priorities forward.
Like many men in his position, Spitzer let his power go to his head. Enough said about body parts.
My real concern, of course, is for his wife, Silda, and their daughters. They didn’t bargain for this and shouldn’t have to be in the spotlight because Daddy was a bad boy.
I also feel bad for the folks who believed in Spitzer’s vision and joined his administration. There are a lot of talented people working for progressive change. This is one of those times when I’m glad I’m in business for myself and didn’t stay working in government.
To say the least, the media circus surrounding this has been intense. I was disgusted by Dr. Laura Schlesinger’s pronouncement on The Today Show that Silda Spitzer was somehow to blame because she wasn’t a caring enough wife who made her husband feel like a man. Give me a break. Women are not responsible for the philandering of their husbands. The boys make their own decisions to step out on their wives.
It’s really interesting that Dina Matos McGreevey, the estranged wife of former New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevey, has become the media’s darling as the expert Governor’s wife whose husband cheated on her. He, too, resigned because of extramarital activities. But, McGreevey wasn’t paying for sex—the taxpayers were because he did put his male lover on the state payroll.
While I think she’s milking her divorce proceedings for all the press exposure she can get, I have to give her credit for taking Dr. Laura to task. Matos-McGreevey likened Dr. Laura’s hyperbole to blaming a rape victim for being raped. She’s absolutely on target.
This coming Monday will be “Day 1 Do Over” in New York State. That’s when Lt. Governor David Paterson will fill the vacuum that currently exists in the Governor’s office. This is welcome news for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.
David Paterson has been a long time ally of the community. Paterson was one of those brave African-American legislators who stood by us saying the Hate Crimes bill had to include the LGBT community otherwise it would be a hallow piece of legislation that wouldn’t protect one of the most vulnerable and victimized groups in the state.
The first day in his position as Senate Minority Leader, Paterson led his colleagues in passing the Statewide Omnibus Non-Discrimination Act—a bill that we had been trying to pass for thirty years. Paterson has also been a long time advocate of marriage equality. In a January 2007 interview with the New York Blade he said, “One of the reasons we need same sex marriage is because the statistics for heterosexual marriage are so bad; that might be a way to upgrade some of the success rates.”
Just as important as his support for LGBT issues is his understanding of politics, the legislative process and the need for finesse. Clearly, steamroller politics do not work—even if you win 70% of the vote, as Spitzer had in 2006.
Paterson’s ability to negotiate and make his adversaries feel as though they’ve also won will be a welcome relief to Spitzer’s penchant for making political enemies.
Don’t for a minute think that Spitzer’s downfall doesn’t have some political intrigue to it. Granted what he did was really stupid but it is the Southern District’s U.S. Attorney appointed by the Bush administration that is singling Spitzer out. You don’t hear anything about clients one through eight, only client #9. Let’s not forget one of Karl Rove’s legacies is politicizing the U.S. Attorney’s office in order to take out the administration’s political adversaries. Eliot Spitzer, a progressive Democrat, who could have been on the fast track to the White House was a perfect target. I’m sure going after Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno didn’t help either.
Unlike Spitzer, Paterson has a history of productively dealing with Bruno. While I wouldn’t say there’s a love fest between the two, I would say there is a good deal of respect and a willingness to work together in order to get the state’s business done.
It’s time for all of us to get back to work.