Friday, 25 July 2014

Kabuki theatre on "corruption" - Cuomo

Gov. Cuomo isn’t like to face any serious electoral fallout from his recent embarrassing display of old-fashioned corruption. His GOP opponent this November is a non-entity in a state where for a Republican to stand a chance they either have to be celebrities or possess bank accounts in 11 figures.

But Cuomo’s plans to shine on the national stage took a serious hit this week with revelations that he systematically interfered with his own ha-ha ‘anti-corruption’ commission named in August, 2013, before finally pulling the plug on it entirely in April. While no one expects sainthood to emerge from Albany over the next, say, 100 years, there was a faint hope that Cuomo’s enormous popularity and mandate would perhaps lead to some bit of housecleaning in that notoriously putrid statehouse.

The litany of micromanagement and bullying reported by the Times this week is pretty appalling when we recall the gov’s own words when he announced with great bombast last year his decision to set up the commission in response to the steady parade of solons marching off to the courthouse and often prison. ‘Anything they want to look at, they can look at,’ said Cuomo at the time, ‘me, the lieutenant governor, the attorney general, the comptroller, any senator, any assemblyman,’ words that may yet disturb his sleep.

Cuomo didn’t clarify that his idea of ‘look at’ meant ‘admire from a distance’, sort of like touring the Statue of Liberty. Commission members mistakenly thought they were supposed to do something about what they saw.

There are vague noises about possible legal implications for Cuomo, and the federal prosecutor here in the city clearly can’t stand the guy. But the cozy system of paying-and-playing isn’t likely to be disturbed, and the governor sits on top of it. Former governor Spitzer, by contrast, might have actually had a chance to wreck it if he hadn’t shot himself in the, um, foot.

The brief rise and precipitously fall of yet one more attempt to rein in gross pocket-lining and opportunism by our elected (and appointed) officials is one more indicator of the pervasive cynicism and plummeting credibility of the entire system, which is reaching unheard-of levels. An anthropologist whose report I just read about (somewhere—sorry, no link), based on a ten-week tour of the U.S., concluded that across the political spectrum Americans believe their government is in the hands of an crass, greedy elite enriching itself, for which they feel profound contempt.

That doesn’t mean the pitchforks are coming out any time soon, but it does reflect a serious weakness of governability that our comfy rulers ought to take seriously but won’t. No one can predict where the increasingly stretched social fabric will rip apart, only that inevitably, eventually, it will.

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