Monday, October 22, 2007

Spitzer Gets Pass Protection

We've already commented on the amnesia over at the NY Times when it comes to the drivers license issue, and the role of Richard Clarke in his flip-floppin' defense of the governor's policy. Now, however, the paper goes a step further in galvanizing support for the Spitzer plan. In yesterday's paper the Times, with a picture of a pugnacious Spitzer, focuses on how, "Mr. Spitzer has shifted his tone once again, taking the offensive and pouncing on opponents."

The tone of the piece tends towards the adulatory ("The attacks have clearly rekindled Mr. Spitzer’s fighting spirit"), with a great deal of emphasis on how the governor has regained his combative footing-"In interviews, the governor and his advisers suggested that there is little to be gained in remaining apologetic."

Yet Danny Hakim is too good a reporter to ignore the widespread unease in Democratic circles over the governor's combativeness: "Fellow Democrats were elated when Mr. Spitzer won, but they have wearied of saying that he needs to play nice in the political sandbox. Some also worry that his staff has too many former prosecutors and that the governor has been unwilling to fire members of his inner circle." And the story goes into the way in which the governor's actions have paralyzed legislative momentum by alienating the Senate Majority Leader, Joe Bruno.

All of which raises questions about the feasibility of the governor's promotion of a wildly unpopular initiative. Certainly, he no longer has the kind of moral capital to pursue the drivers license issue-and his rhetoric against Mayor Bloomberg's opposition to the policy-"Mr. Spitzer called Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg “factually wrong, legally wrong, morally wrong, ethically wrong” for opposing the driver’s license policy"-doesn't bode well for his future salesmanship.

None of this, of course, disturbs the Times' editorial support for the plan. The editorial page is getting so predictably bad that its challenging the maxim, "even a stopped clock is right twice a day." And the editorialists even cite the praise of the aforementioned Mr. Clarke for the policy-"Richard Clarke, an adviser under the last four presidents, mostly on national security issues, has said that making driver’s licenses available to immigrants regardless of their legal status would promote security because “it is far preferable for the state to know who is living in it and driving on its roads."- ignoring the fact that Little Richard, who had said something totally different on the Times Op-ed page in June, contradicted himself in the process.

It kind of makes you wonder whether the Times folks read their own newspaper. And the situation's made worse by the fact that-see the NY Post story yesterday-the track record in other state's doesn't give great confidence in the workability of the plan. What's undeniable, however, is that the issue is a lose for Spitzer-something that is probably underscored by the way in which the Times enthusiastically endorses it.