Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Senate Somnambulance

With just a little over a week to go before the first legislative session of the new year, little movement has been seen surrounding the choice of a senate majority leader-but not for lack of effort from the Democratic tail waggers. As Liz B points out: "The key players in the Senate leadership battle may be taking a bit of a holiday breather, but the outside forces aligned with Democrat Malcolm Smith aren't letting up in their campaign to convince the so-called Gang of Three to return home to the fold."

As we have remarked before, these forces might be better deployed at getting Smith to assert a leadership persona; something that has been lacking so far. The reality here is that the three dissident senators aren't likely to be influenced by union bogarting-and are more likely to respond to some outreach from the party leaders, an outreach that has been more characterized by its absence.

But the game of Russian Roulette could easily end up with Smith taking the bullet-unless he becomes more aggressive at courting the senators who he embarrassed when the original leadership deal fell through. After all, even with all of the mud that's been thrown at the rebels, it fails to compare with the accusations against Smith's designated Hispanic Caucus head, the former amigo Hiram Monserrate.

At least no one's calling for the other recalcitrants to be barred from being seated in the upper chamber-as the Times Union did for the accused slasher Monserrate yesterday. Here's the paper's take on Hiram (via Liz): "It goes without saying that Mr. Monserrate is entitled to his day in court, and that he's not guilty of anything unless a jury of says so. But neither should he be sworn in as a state senator until this matter is resolved. The last thing the Legislature needs is another member under even the suspicion of such a serious crime. The Senate shouldn't permit it. And the Democrats shouldn't want it. They're already quite marginalized and compromised on the eve of taking power.

But, hey, apostasy is a more heinous crime than any alleged assault. The end result here, however, is that unless they act, Democrats and their interest groups might well discover that they have another two years in the power vacuum universe.