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The Steamroller Approach

Spitzer's wounded, but he still has nearly a full term to finish

Gov. Spitzer has had one of the worst weeks of his term, and that's going some for this guy. He's made an embarrassing political retreat on the license issue and woke up Wednesday to the news that a Siena College poll had his positives close to rock bottom.

This is a governor blazing new trails, as he pledged last January, but they lead instead to the wide vista of political stalemate and inaction. His political rivals are gloating over his supersonic decline. His allies are trying to figure out how to be supportive at arm's length. All this is bad news for Spitzer, much of which he has invited with his arrogance and hubris.* He came to Albany believing, apparently, he had been anointed more than elected.

But the governor's fall so early in his first term is worst news for New Yorkers. This is a governor with more than three years left on his ticket, and it is in everyone's interest, no matter the party, no matter the dismay with the Spitzer style, that he be an effective leader who gets things done, especially for the struggling upstate economy.

Lawmakers inclined to spend the next session, which begins in January, trying to exploit Spitzer's weakness may indeed find new ways to needle and frustrate him. But they will hurt New York in the process. The list of things to accomplish is long, and they require full and ongoing cooperation between the executive and legislative branches.

The upstate agenda is in particular danger. The Wicks Law reform that eases public-works costs has not been completed. The capital budget assisting many Rochester-region projects hasn't been approved. More broadly, Spitzer and the Legislature still haven't agreed on a strategy to support new economic sectors upstate such as biomedicine, alternative energy and cutting-edge optics. Ideas have been floated and money promised, but absent is a vision for growth that Spitzer and lawmakers develop jointly and enact.

Sure, the governor must renounce the steamroller approach and do everything he can to repair relations with legislators and the public that Troopergate and the license debacle have damaged. But the picture that matters isn't Spitzer's agony. It's New York's success.

*Updates Note: According to Answers.com, "In its modern usage, hubris denotes overconfident pride and arrogance; it is often associated with a lack of knowledge, interest in, and exploration of history, combined with a lack of humility. An accusation of hubris often implies that suffering or punishment will follow. The proverb 'pride goes before a fall' sums up the modern definition of hubris." Unfortunately, the Governor's hubris lies behind much of his administration's overbearing support for aggressive wind power development in the scenic Finger Lakes region.

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