The arrogance disease. Many of you have encountered this disease and some of you have even had it yourself. It is particularly rampant at times in Albany — particularly when a new administration arrives at the State Capitol with its legion of appointees ready to rip their enemies and go down in history as the “_____” — you fill in the blanks.
Eliot Spitzer had it of course, but he was not the only one. It was there when George Pataki took office until his consiglieres found election rhetoric is one thing and governing another. (The latter is boring, tedious and the glory credits you earn are only a fraction of those to be had on the campaign superhighway.)
So let’s be prepared for the arrogance disease to arrive in Albany in January 2011 when Andrew Cuomo becomes New York’s 56th governor.
What do I mean by the arrogance disease? It is the belief that one is smarter and yes even better than others around him. It is the belief that one does not have to listen to others because he has all the answers. It is the belief that he can push envelopes without consequences.
Winning elections gives people a feeling that they have won a MANDATE TO RULE when it fact an election victory gives them nothing more than an OPPORTUNITY TO GOVERN!
Why do I fear Andrew Cuomo will bring the arrogance disease to Albany in 2011? His actions as attorney general are a clue. One matter in particular concerns me — the decision to go after Intel.
Given the fact that the resources of the attorney general’s office are not infinite, the attorney general ought to be making decisions about which matters are worth the effort and which are not. Whether Intel was engaging in illegal business practices is not a New York State matter. Worse, going after Intel gave the appearance that Cuomo had allowed political considerations to sway what should be a purely legal decision. The political considerations involved in that case are the fact that Intel’s rival AMD was in the midst of making a decision about whether to build a chip fab plant in the Capital Reigon. Did Cuomo go after Intel to help AMD? Probably not, but it is a reasonable question to ask. Were there other matters involving residents of New York that the resources required to pursue an International pricing fixing case could have better served? I’ll bet if I made that a poll question on the Empire Page the majority would say ‘yes’.
Does that mean Andrew Cuomo will be a bad governor and commit similiar mistakes that brought down Eliot Spitzer and David Paterson? No. In fact there are two factors in his favor. One, his father’s experience should prove extremely valuable. Mario can help Andrew avoid mistakes if he listens and I assume he will. Second, Andrew has met with failure in his life — his run against Carl McCall being one example. Typically people who have failed take victory with a degree of humility.
A key to his success as governor however will be whether he can pass along some of his life’s lessons to those he brings to Albany. If not, the arrogance disease will result in some juicy headlines down the road when one aide or another oversteps his bounds and gets caught. For Andrew’s sake and for that of the citizens of New York let’s hope he understands that arrogance has no place in Governor’s mansion or the State Capitol.
Footnote: I am not ignoring the fact that there’s a lot of water to pass under the bridge between now and January 2011. I hope the gubernatorial race garners a lot of attention from the public and that the candidates are pressed to come up with concrete proposals to help NYS out of its economic crisis. However, IMHO (which is shorthand for “In My Humble Opinion”), it would take a political earthquake for Andrew Cuomo to be denied the Democratic Party nomination for governor AND for him to lose in November.