Spitzer: the Enigma Variations
I've been saying for a while now that New York Democrats simply don't get Eliot Spitzer.
Another blogger tells me privately that Spitzer's insufficiently pure to be a true reformer (blah! blah! blah!); the single-issue people bemoan or applaud his position on their one issue; the voting machine people say Spitzer doesn't matter because the vote will be stolen (a refreshingly disparaging diary on that particular species of argument is here); some people write jaw-droppingly obtuse stuff about Eliot 'spitting' on things; you get the picture.
The political discourses in this state and this city are, it seems safe to say, as far away from actual relevance as it is possible to be without being a supermarket insert. I wonder sometimes how this can be, given that we New Yorkers are easily the most disputatious lot on the entire continent; you'd think that the self-proclaimed center of the known universe could come up with better campaign-sinkers than Page 10 or that Photoshop nonsense that got people all upset about Virginia Fields last year. In terms of our political conversation, we are basically hacks, unable either to see dark challenges â€“ like that Yassky nonsense â€“ or great opportunities. This because, I'd argue, for a very long time, nobody has changed the rules of the game, leaving the vapid cynical hacks to squabble amongst themselves.
My gut instinct is that Spitzer is going to do precisely that. This guy is a game-changer and paradigm-shifter. When he gets elected, if we assume present trends continue, he's going to have the largest mandate and consequently the greatest power of any governor of this state since, perhaps, Rockefeller. I hesitate to say Lehman, since he had the Senate as well for a time, but our friends at the NY-DSCC are on the beach until 2008. Whatever the proper comparison, Spitzer is going to be a very powerful governor, that much is clear. His prior record as Attorney General does not suggest acquiescence to the status quo; it does suggest that the man grasps what power is, and how to use it.
Eliot Spitzer says he is going to change this state from Day One. I see no reason not to take him at his word.