Rich Galen

Soon-to-be Former Governor of New York, Eliot Spitzer won the election for Governor as part of the Democratic tsunami which rolled across the nation on November 7, 2006. Spitzer defeated former Republican State Assemblyman John Faso by a startling majority of 69%-29%.

Spitzer succeeded three-term Republican Governor George Pataki whose tall, patrician good looks coupled with the absolute belief held by public officials in both New York and California that they could be and, in fact, should be President of the United States caused Pataki to begin a run for the White House.

As happens with alarming frequency, a Governor who serves more than two terms tends to leave the state party apparatus in shambles when he leaves. That is largely due to the Governor's closest advisors getting comfortable calling the political shots in the State, allowing (even forcing) the political party apparatus to wither into impotence.

Dear Mr. Mullings:

Was it sooo important to type the word "impotence" in this essay? Would "powerlessness" or "incapacity" not have suited just as well?

Signed,

The National E.D. Institute (NEDI)

Probably, but sometimes I can't control my impish sense of humor.

When President George W. Bush appointed several former Governors to his initial Cabinet I spoke with one of them and told him that he had been the absolute ruler of his state for a long time and all anyone around him had to say was, "The Governor wants …" and whatever the Governor wanted to have happen, happened.

"Now," I told him, "you are but one of 14 Cabinet officers and the tens of thousands of non-political-appointees in your Department don't care what "the Secretary wants," especially if the Secretary wants it after 5:00 in the afternoon."

Pataki left a Republican party unable to counter the love affair the popular press had with Eliot Spitzer. The GOP nominated Faso (who had been the State Assembly Minority Leader who defeated former Massachusetts Governor William Weld by such a wide margin at the State Convention that Weld dropped out immediately thereafter.

In an amusing parallel to current events, prior to the New York State Republican convention, Bill Weld (according to a Wikipedia entry) offered Faso the Lt. Governor spot on the Republican ticket in November - similar, if not identical, to second-place Hillary Rodham Clinton offering the V.P. slot to front-running Barack H. Obama.

Spitzer, who is Jewish, recognized he might need to widen the base of his support, so he asked the Minority Leader of the State Senate, David Paterson, who is Black, to run as his Lt. Governor.

Paterson was, according to a Washington Post piece by Alex MacGillis, born in Brooklyn and raised in Harlem, the son of a political heavyweight who was, himself, a State Senator, Deputy Mayor, and Secretary of State.

Paterson not only balanced Spitzer's upper-class background with a traditional neighborhood political heritage, but also balanced Spitzer's take-no-prisoners attitude toward the rest of the human race with a man whom even a political foe (again, according to the WashPost) called, "intelligent, charming, witty … and enjoys the goodwill of people in both parties."

Even allowing for the fact that the State Senator who used those glowing terms knew at that point that Spitzer was resigning and Paterson would ascend to the Governor's office on Monday, that is an impressive set of adjectives in the rough-and-tumble world of Albany, NY politics.

Former Congresswoman and Walter Mondale's choice for his Vice Presidential running mate in 1984, Geraldine Ferraro, pointed out in a speech that Barack Obama is Black saying: "If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position," for which was forced to step down from the Hillary Rodham Clinton campaign for those remarks, a decision which I wholeheartedly endorse.

What she should have said was: "If Obama WERE a white man …"

It is that kind of grammatical error up with which I will not put.

Someone should point out to Ms. Ferraro that in addition to being Black, the new Governor New York is blind.

Let's see what she does with that.


Rich Galen

Rich Galen has been a press secretary to Dan Quayle and Newt Gingrich. Rich Galen currently works as a journalist and writes at Mullings.com.