Governor Spitzer and Mayor Bloomberg: New Year Observations – By George J. Marlin
1) Is Governor Spitzer the kiss of death? He certainly appears to be.
Take the stalled Clinton presidential juggernaut. Hillary was riding high in the polls and was the inevitable nominee until Spitzer unveiled his misguided plan to give drivers licenses to undocumented immigrants. Mrs. Clinton’s campaign imploded after she delivered her Kerryesque “I was for it until I was against it” comments on the Spitzer plan. Thanks to Spitzer, Clinton placed third in the Iowa caucuses.
Spitzer is also responsible for New York Democratic losses in last fall’s elections. After twelve years of Governor George Pataki’s insouciant leadership, the GOP’s 2006 gubernatorial standard bearer mustered only 29 percent of the vote and the party was pronounced in extremis. In 2007, however, Republicans bounced back and chalked up county and town election victories all over the state. Spitzer’s extreme liberal policies, his arrogance and his inability to admit he is ever wrong, caused the comeback. Because Spitzer was the issue in local campaigns, frightened members of his party asked him not to hit the campaign trail. Democrats feared being sighted with the governor would cut short their political careers.
There’s more: Citibank shareholders have incurred significant losses due to the actions of the Bully of Wall Street. Attorney General Spitzer’s trashing of Citibank caused the ascendancy of Charles Prince. A competent compliance lawyer, Prince, however, was not C.E.O. material. His bad judgment is responsible for over $13 billion in bad loans. Prince destroyed Citibank as a viable financial institution. Hundreds of thousands of investors – including scores of senior citizens – who viewed Citibank as a safe investment vehicle have been wiped out.
Another Spitzer target, Marsh & McLennan Companies, has suffered a similar fate. Since paying $850 million of shakedown money to Attorney General Spitzer, the company’s earnings have been weak. On December 21, 2007 Marsh & McLennan announced the resignation of its chief executive Michael Cherkasky. Like Citibank’s Prince, Cherkasky was a compliance specialist who failed at running this colossal insurance broker.
Spitzer was the catalyst for the financial demise of two of New York’s largest employers (Citibank – 337,000 employees, Marsh & McLennan – 55,200 employees). As a result, tens of thousands of their New York employees may find themselves collecting unemployment insurance.
There’s a reason why Governor Spitzer’s approval rating hit a historic low – Democrats, Republicans, Independents, Conservatives, taxpayers and investors view him as the kiss of death.
2) Mayor Michael Bloomberg has been conned into attending a meeting in Oklahoma of washed-up politicians to discuss “bipartisanship” in the public square. Participants include:
Republican William Brock, former Tennessee U.S. Senator who was thrown out of office by the voters after serving one term.
Democrat Chuck Robb, former Virginia U.S. Senator who was ejected from office in 2000.
Democrat Gary Hart, former Colorado U.S. Senator whose scandalous behavior destroyed his 1988 presidential ambitions.
Republican Christine Whitman, former New Jersey governor who was elected twice with only a plurality and left behind a fiscal mess and severely under-funded state pension and retirement health benefit systems. An incompetent EPA director, Whitman became a national embarrassment after she said Ground Zero air was safe to breath.
And in a pathetic attempt to prove they are relevant, they have resurrected the cliché that only “bipartisan” policies will cure America’s ills.
This approach will never work because the philosophical foundations of both the left and the right are based on diametrically opposed visions of the nature of man and the role government should play in man’s life.
America’s founding fathers may have intellectually scorned the concept of political parties, but in practice quickly embraced them and the idea of partisan opposition. No matter what the struggle – Jeffersonians versus Hamiltonians, Jacksonians versus Whigs or North versus South, and no matter what the controversy, immigration restriction, prohibition, civil rights, Vietnam, abortion or drugs – each has been settled by partisan positions.
To get attention, the political has-beens gathering in Oklahoma invited Mayor Bloomberg to be their keynote speaker. Sadly, Bloomberg fell for their “bipartisan” blather and accepted.
Bloomberg’s appearance will generate plenty of media coverage, but like all “bipartisan” gatherings, its impact will quickly fade as Americans turn their attention to what really concerns them – the battle of partisan ideas in the political arena.