Joe To NY Governor Eliot Spitzer: Remember Gray Davis!
Years ago, I worked at
Merrill Lynch in New York. My investment
banking division never changed its policies or
practices without first launching task forces and
convening dozens of meetings to consider the possible
our proposed actions.
After months of tedious analytical sessions came a voluminous
report with its ultimate decision based on one central
principal: would the rewards we anticipated
outweigh the risks we were about to assume?
Apparently Spitzer didn`t convene any meetings even though he`s
surrounded by dozens of advisors who are mirror images of him:
smart, ambitious Ivy League guys who should know up from down.
But either Spitzer`s inner circle doesn`t know the
American citizens when it comes to illegal immigration, or
their opinions, should they be asked, are worthless in the
Had Spitzer taken the time to ask him what could go wrong, the
answer would have come booming back to him: “PLENTY!” And
had he posed the follow-up question about what the rewards to
him might be, the response would be a resounding:”None!”
Assuming I had chaired a Spitzer task force to study the pros
and cons, from a purely political perspective, of
what happens when states give (or propose to give) licenses
to aliens, here is my five-point summary outlining the reasons
why he should drop his idea.
Remember former California governor Gray Davis!
In the 2003 California Recall Election
Davis, like Spitzer a Democrat, was fighting to hold on to
his job when—inexplicably—he announced that if he survived, he
would give licenses to aliens. Davis had vetoed similar bills
At that exact moment, Davis went from a viable candidate to
OKs Licenses for Illegal Residents, by Tychy Hendricks,
San Francisco Chronicle, September 6, 2003]
In a post-election survey commissioned by the Federation of
American Immigration Reform (FAIR), the
Luntz Poll found that 33 percent of voters—the margin that
lead to his defeat— supported removing Davis because of his
pandering position on licenses.
I was invited on dozens of
talk show radio programs and cable television news programs.
The most hotly discussed topic was licenses for
aliens—universally opposed by the shows` hosts and its
listeners. Today, four years later, nothing has changed.
According to a
panel of talk radio hosts assembled by CNN, callers are 100
percent opposed to Spitzer`s policy.
Spitzer may think he`s immune from a Davis-like backlash. But he
isn`t—as he is finding out.
Harvard man so eager for the public spotlight, Spitzer
didn`t read the tea leaves very well. He should have anticipated
that most of the publicity centering on his decision would be
And Spitzer`s reaction to criticism adds to his considerable,
well-earned reputation as the nastiest man in politics.
An exchange between Republican State Senate spokesman Mark
Hansen and Spitzer showed how thin-skinned the governor is:
"Governor Spitzer is putting the
safety of New Yorkers in jeopardy through his arrogance and
another abuse of government power by ignoring the law and
bulling ahead with bad policy despite opposition by most New
Yorkers and elected officials at all levels of government. He
can`t defend his policy, so he is attacking his critics."
Spitzer`s response is guaranteed to offend right-minded New Yorkers:
"What has happened is that the
politics of fear and selfishness has replaced the politics of
common sense and responsibility. We are witnessing knee-jerk
reactions to sound policies that have no business being
politicized or polluted by fear-mongering rhetoric.
"What we are not going to accept is
hysterical rhetoric that preys upon the public`s fears. Over the
past six-and-a-half years, this type of politics has dragged our
country down. People are sick of it … Let`s rise above the
rhetoric and press forward with a positive, reality based agenda
for change." [Spitzer
Slams GOP Politics of `Fear and Selfishness,]
Michael Gormley, Associated Press, October 2, 2007]
That`s quite a mouthful of
Nevertheless, refusing to be intimidated, the Senate Republicans have
given Spitzer until October 31 to reverse his policy before they
pursue legal action. Effective October 5th, teaming
up with the Republicans, the state Conservative Party will
launch a series of
10-second ad campaigns urging New Yorker`s to express their
displeasure to Spitzer.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg, supposedly Spitzer`s friend and
ally, fared no better than Hansen when he publicly questioned
the governor`s license plan.
Spitzer`s rude reply:
"He is wrong at every level – dead
wrong, factually wrong, legally wrong, morally wrong, ethically
Blasts Bloomberg For Questioning Driver`s License Plan,
Kirsten Danis, Daily News, September 28, 2007]
Here`s Giuliani`s view:
“I think it would just create even
further a level of fraud and confusion in what is already a very
confusing picture. The reality is there is so
much traffic in false documents that creates part of this
Assails Spitzer`s Plan to Give Driver`s Licenses to Illegal
Marc Santora, New York Times, September 28, 2007]
3. Even If you prevail early, you`ll lose late
Assuming Spitzer is successful at ramming through his agenda, an
analysis of other states that have given licenses to illegal
aliens portends disaster.
In the last year
North Carolina and Tennessee, overwhelmed by fraud and
bureaucratic nightmares, stopped issuing licenses to aliens.
After federal regulators found that many
Tennessee driver-testing sites were
selling licenses to illegal immigrants from out of state,
Gov. Phil Bredesen (D) ended the practice in May 2006. The state
had also been under fire from local citizens who were irate
because they were forced to wait in line for hours behind
And last August,
North Carolina followed Tennessee`s lead. By 2003, the state
had licensed more than 73,000 drivers without Social Security
numbers. Lawmakers, aware of rampant fraud, gradually made it
harder for illegal immigrants to get licenses before ending the
4. Watch Out For MALDEF and La Raza!
Somewhere along the winding path Spitzer is traveling, he may decide to
copy Utah and its two-tier license system.
Several years ago,
Utah unquestioningly issued licenses to aliens. But in 2005
an audit uncovered multiple abuses. In one instance
according to the audit, 62 of the 58,000 licensed illegal
immigrants reported the identical
Salt Lake City apartment as their address.
Enter the two-tier license with the one issued to aliens called a
"driver privilege card" having
red outlines and stating at the top that the card is
"not valid identification for Utah government entity."
To the dismay of
La Raza were
all over them. According to the ethnic identity lobby`s
tortured logic, the “driver`s privilege card”
represented an open invitation
The last thing the ultra-liberal Spitzer`s wants is to be attacked for
5. You cannot gain; you can only lose!
Spitzer`s radical policy appeals only to the ultra-liberal wing of his
party. But where else could it turn in the 2010 election but to
Spitzer? With or without licenses for aliens, Spitzer has their
Moderate Democrats, however, are another story. During the California
Recall Election, I spoke with former Colorado governor
Richard Lamm, a lifelong Democrat. Lamm was as dismayed as I
was regarding Davis` fatal decision.
Lamm and I are not the only
sensible Democrats around. Assuming the Republicans
nominated a halfway decent candidate, Spitzer could be a
one-term governor as a Zogby Poll indicated. The poll`s results
58 percent of New Yorkers oppose his give-away.
Even Spitzer`s employees are up in arms.
Kathleen A. Marchione, the president of the New York State
Association of Clerks said she and many of her colleagues—all
elected— would defy Spitzer`s new policy.
Said Marchione on behalf of her group:
a safety concern and it`s a safety concern for Americans. They
just believe it`s wrong. They believe that the policy is risky.
And as one elected official to the governor, I think it`s
Spitzer`s battle may be more about personality than policy. A recent
biography, Spoiling for a Fight: The Rise of Eliot Spitzer
by Brooke A.
reviewed in The American Lawyer by Michael Stern,
focuses on the governor`s “dark side.”
Stern wrote that:
“… There`s a dark side to Eliot
Spitzer…and Masters is scrupulous in painting that portrait as
well. Spitzer`s many detractors see him not as a selfless
vindicator of the little guy, but as a headline-grabbing
bully out to promote his own career. Both policy and personality
are at issue. …(Spitzer) makes personal attacks, and takes
As a result, Stern concludes that:
“Spitzer could take the Rudy
Giuliani route — ending up like the unpopular mayor who had
alienated even his closest allies and reached a political dead
end before his career was resurrected by his steely resolve
after 9/11.” [New
Spitzer Biography Reveals `Crusading Good Kid` With a Dark Side,
October 9, 2006]
Masters wrote his book before Spitzer`s decree that illegal aliens
qualify for New York licenses.
Spitzer`s decision, judging by the uproar it has created, may prove to
be his “political dead end.”
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
a weekly newspaper column since 1988. This column is exclusive