Something is about to happen in New York that I find inspiring. And it’s being brought to us as a result of one of the most shocking and uninspiring political miscalculations I’ve ever seen.
We just witnessed the sad downfall of Governor Eliot Spitzer – not because of his policies or even his well-known contentious personality, but because this bright, talented man and former whiz-kid prosecutor thought he could get away with being a client of a call girl ring. For god’s sake…he had prosecuted call girl rings and even ran on that experience!
New Yorkers were understandably stunned by this. Many of us feel deeply let down by the man we thought, at worst, was a bit too hard-headed and unwilling to compromise his very stringent principles. We feel let down by the faith we still had in him, even after the way he stumbled when he first took office. What he did left us all shaking our heads.
In Greek tragedy, the fatal flaw most often leading to a hero’s demise was hubris, excessive arrogance or pride. One well-known example, Sophocles play Oedipus Rex, is about the tragic downfall of a man who was blinded by hubris to the truth of what he was doing. Just like Eliot Spitzer.
Ironically, his Lieutenant Governor, David Paterson, is blind – legally blind. But Paterson seems to be going into his new role as Governor of New York with his eyes wide open, seeing what has to be done to really help make the changes Governor Spitzer talked about but didn’t have the vision or, I’m sorry to say, character to achieve.
Soon-to-be Governor Paterson has chosen to be inaugurated in a low-key ceremony in the Assembly chamber emphasizing a new beginning where he hopes partisanship can take a back seat to working together to tackle the serious problems this state faces. He has a good relationship with people from all parties and walks of life, and is regarded as someone who will work with you to get the job done. He is about the job and not about what’s in it for him – and definitely not about his ego.
Known for his intelligence, humor and warmth as well as his refreshing creativity in finding bi-partisan solutions, David Paterson is not by any means the media-hound many politicians are. My guess is that, despite all his stellar traits and experience, if he had run on his own for Governor, we wouldn’t be lucky enough to be looking forward to a new way of doing business now.
Funny how life works. Politics too, I guess.
It reminds all of us that even in the worst of times, on the other side of the awfulness there really is hope. There really is a chance for something different. Many of us are going through tough times now. This country certainly is. And unfortunately, national politics gets to be a kind of circus where really talented people all start to look like clowns. And sadly the real focus is lost.
But seeing David Paterson reminds me there are truly good people out there who really care about us. While this horribly contentious bipartisan election process (structured now to maximize any differences and feed media frenzy) makes even decent people seem flawed, there are still good politicians who would be happy to be in a position to start fresh, roll up their sleeves, and look to work together with all sides of the aisle to bring real change. No more oozing hubris. No more self-aggrandizement über alles. Just eyes on the prize of bringing hope back to this country.
And now we’ll have one of those people as Governor of New York. With all my heart, I hope he will be able to succeed using his “newfangled” methods and serve as a model for many many others.
Good luck Governor Paterson! Everyone I know is rooting for you.
UPDATE: Fast forward to an administration taken down by scandals; and whether Paterson was innocent, as he emphatically asserts, made no difference in his inability to continue to lead New York. With strong nudging from fellow Dems and even the White House, he wound up stepping aside when it came to running for the office he inherited from Spitzer’s own scandal. Was Paterson brought down by someone from the right? From the left? Or was it just a matter of blind faith on the parts of those of us who believed. I’m still not sure, but I wish him well.