Three men in a room
“I am David Patterson and I am the governor of New York State!”
Wait. Stop there. Freeze that frame. Who is the fellow in the right corner of the screen, an ear-to-ear grin firmly ensconced between the wrinkles on his face? It’s a smile that suggests something completely absent of innocent happiness; the kind of joy one might get from seeing a child play in dandelion field or that same individual graduating from college. There is something sinister about that smile, especially considering the chum wearing it.
Never has Hollywood Joe Bruno been so close to assuming governor’s seat. He’s one well-placed bullet –or scandal –away from seizing the keys to what some would call New York’s top legislative position. But that’s not why he’s grinning.
Overnight, there’s has been a cataclysmic shift in government; the type of event that would have shaken all the buildings on State Street Hill into the Hudson was it something seismic. In one instance, Eliot Spitzer, the seemingly undefeatable foe of Bruno’s very ideology was viciously excoriated; flogged on the podium and then handed banished from the Capitol for good.
Then, to make matters all the more fitting for a sinister smile from the Republican Senate Majority Leader, Patterson came to power; the same Patterson who meekly took hold of the senate minority just five years earlier; the same Patterson known for his conciliatory powers and not the steamroller politics of his predecessor.
Bruno will still have an uphill battled retain the Grand Old Party’s chokehold on the senate, but he’s got an eight-month reprise with which he can whisper into a friendly ear. True, Patterson won’t be nearly as knocked-kneed as a mealymouthed fellow named Pataki was. However, Patterson does seem to represent in spirit a return to the ‘three men in a room’ politics that ruled Albany for all of Pataki’s tenure.
The politics of change are over and Bruno can smile freely now; quite in contrast to the forced grimace he wore during Spitzer’s inauguration 14 months earlier. Moreover, the state’s most powerful Republican legislator can revel in the notion that a particularly virulent strain of the state Democratic Party was quashed with the implosion of Spitzer’s reign.
For more than a decade, Spitzer cultivated a combative, take-no-shit image his party utterly lacked prior to his candidacy. Spitzer, the self-proclaimed steamroller, was all about taking down the general before moving to the foot soldiers. His politics hinted of a new brand of liberalism in the party. Instead of passive resistance, he believed in waging hyper-aggressive preemptive attacks on his perceived enemies; consolidating power before they can identify the source of the besieging. Absent Spitzer, however, the party lacks a cherished firebrand to champion this new movement, which will likely extinguish before it can be rekindled three years from now.