Monday, January 08, 2007

Spitzer, Madman

Ben Smith's Blog Room Eight New York Politics

Ben gives us an interesting article on "psycho" politics...Spitzer Style.......if it worked on Wall Street....why not Albany??? me a favor..and "ditch" the hat........andy

There's a fair amount of concern in Democratic circles that Eliot Spitzer has simply set expectations too high.
He'll be vulnerable, in four years, to critics who point to the things that haven't changed, and note that "everything" was supposed to change. And on Day One! (Dan Janison was
first out of the gate on this one.) He'll compromise with the legislature on this or that, and be hit for compromising. In GOP attack-ad fantasy land, the economy will turn down and he'll have to break his No New Taxes pledge (which really didn't make much sense, unless he knows more about the future of the stock market than anyone else).
Basically, Spitzer seems to have broken the rule about not overpromising. And in a blowout year, he had no political reason to do so.
But there was a non-electoral reason to overpromise. It made a lot of legislators think that he was, basically, insane. He's publicly committed him to things that legislators might otherwise have tried, and succeeded, to talk him out of. With Joe Bruno weaker than ever and Shelly Silver playing nice, Spitzer's hand was already strong. The fact that he heads into negotiations with the legislators -- both rank and file and leadership -- convinced that he's a little nuts, a little irrational, and committed to more than he can possibly do strengthens his hand further.
The risk, in a way, was that in a good budget year, negotiations would be too easy. Spitzer has found a way to keep them hard.
Spitzer learned from his Wall Street cases that his willingness to cross the line -- as with his tacit threat to indict, and probably ruin, a major insurer -- was a wonderful negotiating tactic. In fact, the kind of politics he's most experienced at isn't electoral politics, it's negotiations over the boardroom table.
So his early promises may be bad electoral politics, but smart Albany hardball. And if he gets what he wants, that'll be good politics.

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