( - promoted by Matt Stoller)
What's been going on for weeks in New York state is part of the standard conservative 'kill them in the crib' strategy of destroying progressive icons and politicians. In this case, the target is rising progressive star Eliot Spitzer. Spitzer is considered especially dangerous to the right-wing, because he's a real populist who has taken on Wall Street in extremely high profile cases. He was so effective that a few years ago, the corrupt US Chamber of Commerce declared a 'war on Spitzerism' to reign in state attorney general officers that sought to aggressively enforce the law against corporate elites. The scandal that's taking place now, while ostensibly caused by Spitzer's mistakes, has more to do with these established enemies of populism combined with a peculiar set of incentives for local politicians and insider journalists in New York to pile on an anti-Spitzer frenzy.
Anyway, what happened today is that the Republicans themselves in the state Senate publicly investigated the behavior of the Spitzer administration, even though nonpartisan agencies with more credibility are already looking into what happened. There is no reason for state Senate leader Joe Bruno to be doing this except vengeance and the desire to drag out a scandal and prevent an investigation of Bruno's own corruption, as Rochester Turning notes (though perhaps Bruno just loves the attention, having preened around on national TV for days now).
Meanwhile, New Yorkers and leaders in the state are beginning to ask the government to, well, get back to work. Stuart Appelbaum, of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, is asking the state Senate to pass paid family leave and expand access to health care instead of engaging in these investigations. Both policies are Spitzer priorities. Spitzer himself is actually still governing, working to review and fix New York City's subway system that broke down simply due to thunderstorms. As the Cunning Realist put it, the 'Bloomberg is off the rose'. Having progressives govern makes a difference; years of Giuliani and Bloomberg in the Mayoral seat has of course led to decaying infrastructure, because cross-dressers or not, they are Republicans and Republicans cannot govern.
Many of us have become jaded by a lack of accountability by our politicians at the top, and so the notion that 'getting something done' should take precedence over grandstanding investigations sounds like spin. But in this case, it's not. Every day, I get an email from Michael Caputo of NYFacts.net bashing Eliot Spitzer, and Caputo is a former aide to George H.W. Bush, well-established in right-wing orbits, and obviously directing a smear campaign.
This is really a collection of insiders, press people, angry coddled legislators, Joe Bruno and right-wingers trying to destroy Eliot Spitzer's capacity to govern New York. They tried it with Deval Patrick in Massachusetts and Jon Corzine in New Jersey, and they'll try it with every progressive who takes on a political machine. In some ways, this is exactly what the right did in impeaching Bill Clinton, using Clinton's sloppiness and mistakes to try to overturn a popular electoral result. Destroying progressives is what the right does well, and it's in fact the only thing the right does well. This time, it's not going to work, since there are already investigations going on that are not grounded in Republican partisanship, the scandal has been on every paper in the state for weeks, and yet Spitzer is still pretty popular.
More than that, the public is paying attention and isn't falling for it. They are seeing, with the collapse of infrastructure in Minnesota and New York City, that people in government actually do have stuff to do.