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New York Governor Eliot Spitzer: Not Gone Yet—But Going?
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January 18, 2008, 04:00 AM
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Inquiring readers want to know why I didn`t include in my list of our 2007 successes the saga of New York Governor Eliot Spitzer`s vigorous, and ultimately failed, effort to get driver`s licenses into illegal aliens` hands.

Great question!

In many ways, the national effort to thwart Spitzer was our most significant victory in 2007. Spitzer, unlike President George W. Bush who needs Congressional approval for his subversive actions against America, perceived himself as having the power to approve the issuance of licenses to aliens by arbitrarily demanding county clerks ignore certain the provisions in state law. 

But Spitzer was completely routed by a massive citizen uprising originating in New York and led by the county clerks and other outraged state employees. Anger quickly spread throughout the country.

After a four-week battle, Spitzer gave up—none too graciously—noting that it would be impossible for him to accomplish anything else on his legislative agenda while the license outrage swirled around him.

As 2008 begins, I have good news and bad news about Spitzer.

The good news is that since he revealed himself as a pro-illegal alien advocate his popularity has plummeted to lower than Bush II levels—no small feat for a politician in office for only a year.

In an amusing story in the Daily News, reporters Joe Mahoney and Elizabeth Benjamin tied certain Spitzer arrogant comments to his steady decline in the polls.

  •  January 2007, (61 percent approval) to Assembly GOP leader James Tedisco, "Listen, I`m a f—ing steamroller and I`ll roll over you and anybody else."

  • May, (60 percent), to legislators during budget negotiations, "This is my room and we`ll play by my rules."

  • November, (41 percent), regarding the driver`s license fracas, "I am not willing to fight to the bitter end on something that will not ultimately be implemented."

  • December 17, (37 percent) affirming his cooperation in the so-called "Dirty Tricks" scandal (see below): "We are cooperating fully…I have answered all the questions over and over." [How Spitzer Can Make Amends In 2008, By  Joe Mahoney and Elizabeth Benjamin, Daily News, December 30, 2007]

Latest polls show that Spitzer`s popularity, now at 30 percent, continues to decline. And a New York Post columnist wrote that as far as New Yorkers are concerned about Spitzer there has been, "…a cataclysmic evaporation of faith in him." [Coming Clean on Dirty Tricks, By Adam Brodsky, New York Post, December 28, 2007 and Spitzer-Probe Boss in Vacation Uproar, By Fredric U. Dicker, New York Post, December 31, 2007]

Spitzer is reeling not only from the license outrage but also the fall out from the "Dirty Tricks" probe—into an alleged campaign by Spitzer to discredit one of his chief adversaries in the licenses for aliens battle, Senate Republican Leader Joseph Bruno. [Ethics Board Seeks Spitzer`s Aide`s Diary in Probe, By Michael Gormley, Associated Press, January 4, 2008]

Things are going so poorly for Spitzer that critics have counted the numbers of days and nights he spent in Albany during 2007. The tally is 99 days in Albany with only 47 overnight stays. The rest of the year Spitzer spent either at his lavish Fifth Avenue Manhattan apartment or at his family`s farmhouse in Columbia County.

For New Yorkers who elected Spitzer with the hope that he would improve the state`s dysfunctional government, his time away from the office is yet another sore point. [Spitzer Rapped for Avoiding Albany, Joseph Spector, The Journal News, January 4, 2008]

Spitzer`s multiple woes, when totaled, tally up to a stalled "reform" agenda and questionable prospects for his 2010 re-election, although the date is far into the future.

In short, Spitzer`s bad news is good news for us.

Alas, Spitzer has three years left on his term—an eternity in politics. And in November, the New York Senators (currently controlled by the Republicans by a margin of 32-29) and Assemblymen (Democrats 104-46) are all up for re-election.

To license or not license aliens is likely to be the number one issue on the campaign trail, especially for Republicans, according to Rensselaer County Clerk Frank Merola with whom I spoke.

Merola, who I had interviewed last year and whose staunch anti-Spitzer stance prompted one reader to call him and his patriotic colleagues   our "new heroes," told me that if the Democrats gain control of the Senate, they will ram through alien licenses as their first matter of business.

Reminding me that Spitzer put licenses on the top of his progressive gubernatorial agenda, Merola said "Spitzer had barely been elected when he started to put his scheme together as early as March. And he consulted with no one along his way."

And, Merola added, if the Democrats should prevail in November, they would simply "re-write the law" so that the "completely untrustworthy" Spitzer could have his way.

Merola explained:

"As the law is currently written, under the New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law Section 501, subsection 1, all individuals seeking a driver`s license must show proof of citizenship in the form of a Social Security number. Spitzer wanted to simply ignore that provision. When we announced that we planned to challenge him in court, with the assurance from our lawyers that the case would be a slam dunk, Spitzer backed down.

"Without the Social Security number requirement, aliens will be able to obtain licenses."

What`s interesting is to play around with a few different scenarios.

Let`s assume, for the sake of argument, that the Democrats win the New York Senate in November, rewrite the licensing laws and thereby grant Spitzer his wish.

By the time any changes would be implemented, it would be 2009, only a year before Spitzer would have to face the electorate again. And with no reason to believe that New Yorkers would be any less angry about licenses for aliens in 2009 than it was in 2007, Spitzer would have dramatically diminished prospects for re-election.

And assuming that Spitzer can do basic addition and subtraction, he might want to do the math on licenses for aliens nationwide.

While he was promoting his alien license agenda, Spitzer referred multiple times to how eight other states had moved in that direction so for New York to do the same was merely part of a national trend.

But three of those eight states—Oregon, Michigan and Hawaii—have ended the practice. The trend therefore is not toward licenses for aliens but away from it, as Spitzer should easily be able to see.

In my first column about Spitzer`s betrayal, I warned him that he should study the case of former California governor Gray Davis who once thought that licenses for aliens was the key to his political future.

But Davis found, as will Spitzer, that illegal alien pandering, especially via the driver`s license route, is in reality a one-way ticket out of politics.

Joe Guzzardi [e-mail him] is the Editor of VDARE.COM Letters to the Editor. In addition, he is an English teacher at the Lodi Adult School and has been writing a weekly newspaper column since 1988. This column is exclusive to VDARE.COM.