Tuesday, November 27, 2007

'I’m Not Naturally Suited to This Job, Perhaps'

In the understatement of the century, New York Governor Eliot Spitzer admits he's had some difficulties, to put it mildly, acclimating himself to his role as the state's chief executive.

Still, he gets sympathetic treatment from the New York Times. It's hard to imagine a Republican who behaved so immaturely getting such lenient treatment.
On a Tuesday morning early this month, Gov. Eliot Spitzer and his closest aides gathered at his country estate in Columbia County, N.Y., to review the administration’s first year. Hours passed before someone asked the question on everyone’s mind: Should Mr. Spitzer drop his plan to give driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants?

On the outside, the answer was clear: the public overwhelmingly disliked the idea, Republicans were rallying against it and legal challenges were on the way.

But around the dining table, looking out over the rolling farmland, few wanted to back off. They had come to Albany to fight for their ideas, several said.

Mr. Spitzer, especially, did not want to budge. The governor, who swept into office quoting Theodore Roosevelt and promising bold action, believed he could convince people that he was right.

“At that moment I thought, ‘This is a matter where we are right on the substance, and I don’t want to sacrifice that,’” the governor said in an interview last week.

But in the end, Mr. Spitzer’s determined push sent his poll numbers to their nadir, angered his allies, and even became a point of contention in the Democratic presidential campaign.

Coming after a summer of scandal and other stumbles, the long and ultimately futile battle over driver’s licenses has left many people pondering the same simple question: Does Eliot Spitzer have the judgment to succeed as governor?
Most would argue his bullying temperament means no to that question, and if this is any indication, he may never learn how to tone it down.
Mr. Spitzer said he had, in fact, been hitting the books. While he has previously delved into biographies of governors like Roosevelt, Charles Hughes and Al Smith, all of whom battled the Legislature to bring about change, he said he was now pondering the lessons of President Lyndon B. Johnson, who matched brute will to a subtle mastery of the legislative process.

“There’s an art there that I would like to be more successful at,” Mr. Spitzer said. “Life is a learning process, and a little more Lyndon Johnson would not hurt.”
Emulating LBJ may not exactly win over too many people; then again, he leads the bluest of blue states with few GOP stars on the immediate horizon and three years left to go in his term, so don't rule out a political comeback.

Read the rest...

Meanwhile, the NY Sun reports notes questions surround the perjury probe of one of Spitzer's former aides (funny how the NY Times doesn't mention this), while the NY Post reveals an FBI twist in another Spitzer probe.

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