Throughout the week, Albany has been stirring and whirring (Walt "Clyde" Frazier helped write this post) over Governor Paterson's new push for sweeping ethics reforms. Paterson's vision, laid out in his State of the State address yesterday, is audacious not because the reforms are controversial with the public, but because only the legislature can enact them which means strong, skilled leadership will be needed to compel the state's lawmakers to invite term limits, more stringent ethics enforcement, and tighter fund-raising restrictions upon themselves. Certainly, if Paterson could accomplish that, it would go a long way in convincing voters to keep him in office.
Except that, while making the rounds on basically every radio station in the state today, Paterson has been hammering home a not so confidence-inspiring message: Tangible accomplishments are overrated.
"Sometimes one of the problems I think in government and State of State addresses is there's a scorecard we measure the person by how much they pass as opposed to how much is right," the governor said ....
"I don't think it's the issue of what percentage of your proposals you pass, it's: Are you fighting for the things that would make life better for New Yorkers? And I think we are doing that,” Paterson added.
Paterson goes on to explain that it's better for a governor to push for things that may not seem politically feasible at the time than to only propose things that the legislature agrees with. His hope is that by putting the ethics issue out there, he and the public can pressure lawmakers into action. Which might not be a terrible strategy! It's just that Paterson doesn't seem to have a lot of confidence in it, you know, actually working.