Friday, July 10, 2009

El Cacique!

He never ceases to both amaze us and confound us at the same time. There's simply no way that we expected Pedro Espada to be able to withstand the kind of withering pressure that he has been under for the past month-and to emerge with the majority leadership! Here's Daily Politics take: "A source who has been involved in the ongoing negotiations to end the Senate stalemate called in to report that a deal has been reached and Sen. Pedro Espada Jr. has agreed to return to the Democratic fold. "He's coming back," was all the source would say."

And to be able to overcome the intense enmity in his own conference? Kind of reminds us why Bob Kapstadter calls him the Wascally Wabbit-with everyone else left saying; "Which way did he go? Which way did he go?" As the NY Post reports: "Several Democratic senators have repeatedly insisted they would not accept Espada's return to their Conference because of a series of allegations of improper or illegal activities that his political opponents have leveled against him."

Still, Espada rises. And, after the dust settles, Espada reins as the El Cacique of the state senate: "Under the deal, Malcolm Smith will be the Senate president, several senators said. Espada (D-Bronx) would be majority leader and Democrat John Sampson will be leader of the Democratic conference. The deal was struck for Espada to return around midnight Thursday."

Or, as one commenter to the Daily Politics story said, disbelievingly: "...looks to me like Espada won after all." And he did, confounding all expectations. All of which leaves Juan Gonzales bitter, as well as dumbfounded: "Pedro Espada has back-stabbed his way to the top. Let's see how long it lasts. The turncoat senator from the South Bronx, whose defection to the Republican minority paralyzed action in the Senate on a raft of bills for an entire month, landed an even bigger reward yesterday with his sudden return to the Democratic fold. Meet Senate Majority Leader Espada."

Will reform be part of Pedro's resurrection? His comments to the Post would cast some doubt on that possibility: "Espada said, "Unfortunately, Dean rejected an opportunity to reach a compromise under which Republicans would have had equal access to all the resources of the Senate." Here's Liz's take: "Sampson said he has talked with Sen. Tom Libous about unspecified reforms that might be put in place by tomorrow. However, he also said "everything's under review" at this moment, and it could take as long as 60 days before real changes are made."

And, of course, all of the amigos were in the thick of this; with Carl Kruger and Hiram Monsrrate apparently the linchpins: "Espada said the "compromise" would have kept him as Senate president and made Democratic Sen. Carl Kruger of Brooklyn the Senate majority leader, with Skelos "able to have whatever other title he would have liked." With Skelos' demurral, the way back to the fold was paved for Espada.

But, as the NY Times reports, Hiram's closeness to Espada helped keep the lines of communication open: "Senator Hiram Monserrate, a Queens Democrat who initially sided with the Republicans along with Mr. Espada, played a key role in persuading his colleagues to allow Mr. Espada to return."

All of this reminds us of what the political sociologist Roberto Michels once said: "The socialists may conquer, but socialism never will." Parties will continue to take advantage of their power, and principle will always be subordinated to that axiom. So, given these realities, Espada understood how to use his guile to position himself as indispensable-and those who abhorred his tactics, and defamed his character, had to meekly accept his return; along with his ascension to leadership.