I confess: When it comes to my family and friends, I’m biased — I expect much more from them (e.g., better behavior, reasoning and argument) than from other human beings. The same is true for people with whom I share a political party and/or philosophy. That’s why I was especially disappointed this summer that Schenectady County’s Democrats were the leading PanderPols pushing through sex-offender residency bans; and I’ve taken national Democrats and True Majority to task over Iraq, and winced this year over the procedural bullying tactics of the new majority in Congress. In addition, as I suggested last week, having a high IQ is never an excuse for having a low EQ; it’s a reason to demand that our leaders (and our kids) demonstrate and nurture a robust “Emotional Intelligence.” That brings me to New York’s Democratic Gov. Eliot Spitzer.
Although I voted for him in 2006, I noted during the primary campaign last year how turned off I was by a barrage of “self-congratulatory, and self-consciously serio-heroic” tv ads by gubernatorial candidate Eliot Spitzer. (see “spitzer and the sitzfleisher”) As feared, after his large electoral victory and early popularity, we soon saw the arrogant and obnoxious side of Eliot “the f**king steamroller” Spitzer. Despite his clearly high IQ and vibrant verbal skills, Eliot Spitzer has somehow confused the privilege and power of the governor’s “bully pulpit” with acting like a bully (who, in fact, rarely deigns to use his pulpit to explain his positions, strategies, goals).
sidewalk ants the boy
in the howling wind
under the full moon
the snowman, headless
on the bus
the teenager pulls out a mirror
and adjusts her pout
Things have gotten much worse recently, in the wake of Troopergate, with the controversy that has arisen around the Spitzer proposal to — by administrative fiat — permit unlawful aliens to obtain driver’s licenses. Although many Democrats, even liberal ones like Cong. Kirsten Gillibrand, disagreed with the largely unexplained policy, Spitzer called his Republican opponents part of the “rabid right.” See “Rhetoric drowns out any rational discussion” (Troy Record, editorial from The Watertown Daily Times, Oct. 17, 2007):
“Gov. Eliot L. Spitzer’s unilateral decision to change the rules on obtaining a driver’s license unleashed a barrage of scathing criticism which has been followed by the governor’s intemperate defense of his decision.” . . .
“An irascible Spitzer accused his critics of “fear-mongering and extremist rhetoric,” “knee-jerk reactions” and engaging “in the politics of fear and selfishness.” Spitzer lashed out at Bloomberg as “wrong at every level – dead wrong, factually wrong, legally wrong, morally wrong, ethically wrong.”
“Spitzer maintains his policy, when it takes effect in December, will improve security by bringing illegal immigrants out of the shadows, improve safety on state highways and reduce insurance premiums since unlicensed drivers are more likely to be involved in car accidents.
“That may be true, but rational discussion of the policy is being drowned out by the rhetoric on both sides. Spitzer has missed an opportunity. He failed to anticipate the opposition, which might have been avoided by laying the groundwork for acceptable change through dialogue rather than imposing it by fiat.”
When the county clerks, who woud have to administer the new interpretation of the law, collectively said “Hell, No,” the Spitzer administration threatened to sue them. Republican leadership in the state legislature (they control the Senate, but not the Assembly) responded by saying the cost of such litigation should fall on the State, not the Counties. Assembly Republican Minority Leader James Tedisco (R-Schenectady) in introducing a bill he dubbed the County Clerks Protection Act. He declared (see NYPost, Oct. 12, 2007):
“Without question, county clerks who refuse to enact Gov. Spitzer’s risky, reckless, irresponsible proposal must be defended and indemnified from any frivolous lawsuit he may bring.”
. . . I’m not supporting the childish name-calling and posturing of Assembly Minority Leader James Tedisco, with his chant of “Illegal Eliot.” But, I’m going to let my Republican friends call out Tedisco and misbehaving members of their party. update (Oct. 19, 2007): an editorial in the Albany Times Union, “save the clinic” says “Mr. Tedisco has been in politics long enough to know what buttons to push to provoke a crisis, and that makes his latest posturing truly offensive.”
Yesterday, the antagonism was ratcheted up, and the level of discourse and debate brought down even further. As the New York Post reported: “SPITEFUL SPITZ KO’S HEALTH $$ IN ID SPAT,” by Fred Dicker, Oct. 17, 2007):
“Gov. Spitzer yesterday played vicious hardball with his chief opponent in the battle over driver’s licenses for illegal aliens – canceling $300,000 in state-funded health-care and education projects in Assembly Minority Leader James Tedisco’s district, The Post has learned.
” ‘It’s governance by vengeance. He doesn’t care who he hurts,’ a furious Tedisco (R-Schenectady) told The Post. ‘You disagree with him and he tries to steamroller you,’ said Tedisco, a Republican.”
As the Post reminded readers, “The Democratic governor made his infamous “I’m a f- – -ing steamroller” remark to Tedisco earlier this year.”
Local television and newspaper outlets have been covering this story in depth. See, e.g., “Funding cut called political punishment: Tedisco claims Spitzer is penalizing Schenectady health clinic in GOP district” (Albany Times Union, Oct. 18, 2007; reprinted); “Spitzer blocks local funding” (Schenectady Daily Gazette, Oct. 18, 2007); and “Tedisco accuses Spitzer of ‘dirty tricks’ ” WNYT.com 13, Oct. 17, 2007). [update: compare editorials in the Schenectady Daily Gazette, "spitzer steamroller fails again," and the Albany Times Union, "save the clinic , Oct. 19, 2007.] The October 17th NYPost article yesterday explained that:
- Tedisco says the Schenectady Free Health Clinic is one of the programs that will lose funding. . . . . Staff at the clinic volunteers their time and skills to serve the uninsured working poor. Doctors say the facility will simply not last long if they don’t get funding from the state. . . . “If we were to close there are 2,500 to 3,000 people today who will lose their care,” Dr. Robert Pletman said.
- “[Spitzer's budget director, Paul Francis] wouldn’t say why, but I have no doubt it’s a direct result of my opposition to the governor’s plan to give licenses to illegal aliens,” said Tedisco. . . . “Here’s another dirty trick from this governor. . . . “He’s out there bashing President Bush for not signing a health-care program for kids and he’s going to close down a health-care program for the poor in my district and these people will now be at the doorstep of hospital emergency rooms at 10 times the cost,” Tedisco continued.
- “Spitzer spokeswoman Christine Anderson insisted the governor wasn’t retaliating against Tedisco but was only ‘trying to get state budget spending under control.’
In their defense, Spitzer’s people say Tedisco was told in January that the funding would no longer be available. However, email released by Tedisco appears to directly contradict that claim. According to a follow-up article in today’s New York Post, “Spitzer’s office e-mailed Tedisco’s on Sept. 6, saying: ‘We’re prepared to process this project along with the other items’.” See “E-MAILS THE ‘SMOKING GUN’ IN GOV VENGEANCE” (New York Post, Oct. 18, 2007) The article also notes that “an aide to Spitzer conceded” there was no written proof that a notification was sent to Tedisco about not funding the projects.
That reminds me: Have I told you lately how much I hate it when I’m lied to by anyone, politicians included — and especially political leaders in my party?
This is all, to my mind and viscera, rather disturbing. Eliot Spitzer is supposed to be a bright light among Democratic politicians, and you know he dreams of an 8-year sleepover at the White House someday. Is it really too much to ask our political leaders to act like mature adults? To demonstrate, consistently, a high EQ and Emotional Intelligence? (Click for a quick recap of the “Four Components of Emotional Intelligence“)
“Emotional Intelligence” by Daniel Goleman
As my post in January 2005 states, I have long been worried over the tendency of my leftish friends and allies to demonize their opponents — apparently based on a premise of moral and intellectual superiority, and a refusal to concede that those with opposing views are acting in good faith. With this certainty comes a willingness to use virtually any means to achieve power and maintain it. [Yes, this happens on the Right, too, but that is not my fight today.] This self-righteousness on the Left (along with a willingness to bend the truth and the rules) is one of the main reasons that I am so suspicious about the current presidential candidacy of Hillary Clinton, another New York Democratic leader.
his side of it
her side of it
two little boys
paddling like mad —
the beached canoe
There’s not much I can hope to do today to help encourage Eliot Spitzer to nurture and demonstrate Emotional Intelligence in his role as Governor and head of the Democratic Party in New York State. He seem to be re-acting to sharply plummeting poll numbers by getting more shrill and becoming more of a bully. Perhaps it will take a major political setback or two on important issues to encourage a bit of personal introspection and reform — to go along with the goal he sets out on the Spitzer 2010 website: “We must transform our government so that it is as ethical and wise as all of New York.” Wise isn’t just IQ, of course, it’s also acting with emotional maturity, empathy, responsibility.
Eliot Spitzer is going to have to admit he needs to work on his EQ, and make a real commitment to do so. If he’d like some help from the experts, I’d suggest spending some time with “Primal Leadership: Learning to Lead with Emotional Intelligence” (by Daniel Goleman, Annie McKee, Richard E. Boyatzis; Harvard Business School Press, 2002), where Eliot can learn about the difference between dissonant leadership and resonant leadership. [I know he's busy and on a budget, but the Audio CD, available today used for under $4 at the Amazon Marketplace, should be convenient.]
Clearly, it’s way too late for “How to Raise a Child with a High EQ: A Parents’ Guide to Emotional Intelligence,” by Dr. Lawrence E. Shapiro, PhD (Harper 1998). But, his lovely wife might find a few helpful spouse-rearing pointers.
Of course, having EQ doesn’t mean not having a sense or humor. The f/k/a Gang doesn’t really believe that Name Is Destiny, but we do enjoy musing over Gov. Spitzer’s surname and how it might affect his personality and fate. Indeed, the name “Spitzer” offers many destinies for Eliot, who — like most adults — can choose a life (and career) filled with emotional health and harmony rather than destructive emotions and strife. As we pointed out in December 2005 (reacting to Prof. Bainbridge’s question: Spitzer = Thug?), in German:
- spitze is acuteness, and the pinnacle, but also a sting or a prick;
- the verb spitzen is to nib or sharpen.
We’d like to urge Eliot Spitzer to go for the healthy, inspiring aspects of being a “spitzer.” He doesn’t need a higher IQ (and is surely too old to do anything much about it), but it’s never too late to work on your EQ. The results could be just what New York needs in a governor. That political pinnacle has your name on it, Eliot Spitzer, but you won’t get there through spit and spite.
update: We couldn’t possibly have known just how low Gov. Spitzer’s EQ really was, until his big prostitution-ring scandal. See our post “spitzer: maybe name is destiny” (March 11, 2008); and see Dr. Susan Dunn’s resultant look at Spitzer and EQ (and her attempt to drum up some new business).
through the open door . . .
her smile doesn’t forgive
all my sins
snowblind on the range:
the barbwire home