Sure, Malcolm Smith was never able to effectively unify his Senate Democrats, or sufficiently placate turncoat Pedro Espada and his girlfriend-slashing friend, Hiram Monserrate. But ultimately, what led to the demise of the Senate Democrats may have been Smith's bad manners. Back in April, upstate billionaire and Independence Party founder Tom Golisano visited with Smith in his office to discuss state budget issues. Especially since Golisano had helped to bankroll the Democrats' takeover of the Senate last year, he expected that Smith would, you know, listen to him as he talked. But instead, Smith was preoccupied with his BlackBerry the entire meeting. "When I travel 250 miles to make a case on how to save the state a lot of money ... and the guy comes into his office and starts playing with his BlackBerry, I was miffed," Golisano says, and soon after, he started plotting Monday's overthrow. Other politicians would be wise to heed a lesson from Smith's mistakes: You can miff the Starbucks guy for playing on your BlackBerry while he's trying to take your order. You can miff your golf buddies for holding up the game while you BlackBerry in the tee box. You can even miff your daughter for BlackBerrying it up as she stars in her school's production of Our Town. But for God's sake, if there's anyone you don't want to miff, it's the temperamental, well-connected billionaire with the power to stage a political coup.
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