Theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, hero of post-World War II “vital center” liberals, must be rolling in his grave.
At the Chautauqua Institution on August 7, New York’s politically wounded governor, Eliot Spitzer, in a speech titled “The Need for Both Passion and Humility in Politics,” invoked Niebuhr to knock President Bush’s Iraq policy and excuse his administration’s unethical conduct.
The governor, whose previous theological speculation was pretty much limited to describing himself as a “f—ing steamroller,” now says that we “need a sense of modesty about the virtue, wisdom and power available to us” and “a sense of contrition about the human frailties and foibles which lie at the foundation of both the enemy’s demonry and our vanities.”
New York’s enemy is the status quo which “drives the injustices of our time.” The status quo says the governor “simply represents the policies I oppose.”
To “realize a Progressive Era for the 21st Century” and to achieve what is morally right, Spitzer acknowledges that Niebuhr’s principles of humility were abandoned: “We were fighting so hard for what we believed was right that we let down our guard and allowed our passion to get the best of us.”
Spitzer’s public confession is flawed. He does not understand that the “Progressive Era” he seeks to realize already exists. The “status quo” he despises is actually the product of a half century of progressive policies. New York’s progressives created the politics of control and coercion that is destroying the Empire State. They have been the guardians of the forces responsible for the sorry plights of New York’s educational and health care systems and its physical infrastructure.
The Progressives sanctioned Albany’s fiscal mismanagement, spending sprees and excessive taxes.
The Progressives absconded capital projects monies to fund bloated general operating budgets, thus causing the neglect and decay of New York’s infrastructure.
The Progressives created New York’s $44 billion Medicaid program that cuddles the Health Care Cartel and is bankrupting county governments throughout the State.
The Progressives pumped billions into failing inner-city public schools to pacify the teachers union.
And since taking office, Governor Spitzer has rolled in the mud with these status quo Progressives:
– Spitzer capitulated on the Campaign For Fiscal Equity Suit and poured billions of additional state tax dollars into New York City’s abysmally inefficient school system.
– Spitzer agreed to a state-spending increase of 9 percent – three times the inflation rate, approved $300 million in legislative pork and supports pay raises for part-time legislators.
– Spitzer enhanced the power of status quo state and municipal unions by signing an executive order that grants 60,000 child care workers the right to unionize.
– Spitzer exempted state and municipal union political action committees from campaign reform restrictions.
And Spitzer’s Chautauqua speech claim that he enacted the largest property tax in State history is a lie. The School Tax Relief Program (STAR) is not a tax-cutting program but an income redistribution plan – a sort of homestead exemption. The State subsidizes homeowners with a yearly relief check while school districts continue to tax and spend without restraint.
Eliot Spitzer is not an agent for change; he is just another progressive enabler.
As for Spitzer’s public mea culpa for his aides’ misdeeds – publicly accepting responsibility for these actions is not enough. To be a true penitent, there must be the admission of all wrongdoings; nothing can be withheld. The governor must stop the stonewalling and permit a proper and thorough investigation of Troopergate.
Governor Spitzer is mistaken if he thinks his Chautauqua theological musings put his administration’s scandals behind him. His pledge to “give scrutiny to the rightness of our means” has only increased demands that he comes clean.