The main takeaway from the first days of what now promises to be a long, hard slog for the governor is how strangely unprepared the Spitzer machine seems for dealing with an internal crisis. This is, of course, ironic on several levels: As the crusading A.G., Spitzer has thrown many a Wall Street firm into the same kind of cooperation-pledging, aide-dismissing, ass-covering tizzy his administration appears to be experiencing right now. Today’s Post and Times point out that, despite the governor’s claim of full cooperation with Cuomo, two of his top aides — including his chief of staff — refused to talk to the attorney general’s investigators. That such a Nixonian disconnect between Team Spitz’s statements and actions should surface so fast is just plain embarrassing; worse, the question the two staffers appeared to be unwilling to answer concerns the degree of Spitzer’s involvement with the unpleasantness at hand (the use of state police to spy on Joe Bruno).
A significant additional piece in the Times profiles Darren Dopp, Spitzer’s longtime communications director, who’s accused of masterminding the Bruno-stalking. The article portrays Dopp as a solid, credible tipster who’s maintained a great relationship with the press (having been a reporter himself) and all but calls him a fall guy. Witness after witness is called up to note how out-of-character this kind of behavior seems for him. Meanwhile, the Observer basks in the irony of Andrew Cuomo as Spitzer’s Spitzer, so to speak. Cuomo, who “gratefully and humbly accepted Mr. Spitzer’s support during the 2006 campaign,” appears to be gaining political points at the same rate as the governor is losing them: While “the rapidity with which Mr. Spitzer has turned state officialdom against him is nearly unprecedented in recent memory,” his A.G. successor has been quietly gaining positive notices for his low-profile but ultra-effective style. Cuomo’s chosen vehicle appears to be a stealth jet rather than a steamroller.