Is Kathy Hochul’s governorship already beyond redemption?
When George Pataki bribed New York’s Legislature with a pay raise back in the day, he won charter schools in return. Kathy Hochul gifted the lawmakers big bucks over Christmas — and got back a sharp stick in the eye.
And New Yorkers suffered a soft coup of sorts — with state Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins now their all-but-de facto governor, as a cabal of lefty termites chews up the legislative woodwork.
So, what of the fledgling Hochul administration? In the immortal words of Porky Pig: “Th-th-th-that’s all, folks!”
Time will tell about that last bit, of course. But not much time.
For the lady does conjure nostalgia for Andrew Cuomo’s narcissistic thuggery: He likely never would have waved a centrist judge like Hector LaSalle in front of a hard-left Senate — but once he committed, the lawmakers would have paid a heavy price for thwarting him.
And Hochul, her pick for New York’s top judge having been bounced like a basketball through the Capitol’s corridors, now just looks pathetic. At least Porky was good for laughs.
But is the governor beyond redemption? Is she capable of functioning — let alone prospering — in Albany’s eternally cynical, increasingly ideological, political culture?
Simply asking such questions about an administration all of three weeks old is almost to answer them. Kathy Hochul, hitherto an Erie County lightweight, was Cuomo’s pick for lieutenant governor in 2014 precisely because she cast no shadows. That she went along with legislative pay raises last month without getting something obvious in return shows that nothing’s changed.
Hochul, amazingly, seems not to understand that state government in New York is front-end loaded for a strong executive. This is particularly so in budgeting, an existential exercise for legislators looking to bring home tax-dollar-funded goodies.
Yet there was nothing purposeful in Hochul’s cliché-studded state-of-the-state message last week — that is, nothing to suggest that she’s entering the new legislative session on equal terms with the ideologues now dangerously close to running the show.
If nothing else, Wednesday’s embarrassing dismissal of LaSalle demonstrates that Cuomo’s departure left an enduring vacuum.
Yet vacuums don’t last, particularly in power politics. Stuart-Cousins and her ambitiously scheming deputy, Michael Gianaris of Queens, certainly seek to fill this one.
They packed the Senate Judiciary Committee with like-minded lefties, ensuring LaSalle’s rejection — and making clear their intent: Whenever Hochul gets around to articulating an agenda, if it doesn’t match theirs, it’ll be toast.
And if they have their way, say goodbye to all hope for a return to sanity in New York’s penal and criminal procedure codes. Forget about growth-friendly tax, energy and regulatory reforms. Be prepared for more erosion of public education curriculum and accountability standards.
New York’s anarcho-progressives will have none of those things, thank you very much — and that means Shadow-Gov. Stewart-Cousins won’t either.
Now, to be sure, there’s no reason to believe Hochul much cares about such things either — and even less to believe she’d know how to fight for them if she did.
Hochul could surprise; she could put Stuart-Cousins, Gianaris and the rest in their proper place.
Stranger things have happened — she did become governor after all.
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