Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Spitzer: What we need

You can't always get what you want. But if you try sometimes, you might just find you get what you need.

Meanwhile, here in New York, we often get what we want. Only to find out what we wanted was not what we needed.

I read recently that former state attorney general and disgraced governor Eliot Spitzer was considering a run for the US Senate. While I'm not particularly keen on the idea of our junior senator being the guy lovingly referred to as “Client number nine,” after looking over the other possible contenders, I'm thinking he might be what we need.

Before reading that Spitzer was considering running against Senator Kirsten Gillibrand for the senate seat she was appointed to, I kind of forgot that Kirsten Gillibrand even existed. That's a bad sign for a US Senator. I mean, considering I can probably name most of the 98 senators who represent the other states, having to think about one of our own is a sign that she's not really a voice to be reckoned with, ya know?

I hate to admit it, but I kind of miss the one-two punch of Senators Chuck Schumer and Hillary Clinton. Sure, she was a carpetbagger who only wanted to use her senate seat as a step in her quest for the presidency, but her profile and demeanor meant more attention for New York.

Think of United States senators in the way they were envisioned prior to the ratification of the 17th Amendment. They were all appointed to act as ambassadors for the state, working on behalf of the state government to express the state's view in Washington. They needed to be strong, charismatic representatives to get their states what they needed.

With the passing of the 17th, the senate is now elected by the people and their role has changed. But most good senators are still the strong charismatic ones, acting as ambassadors rather than the proxies that one of my least favorite amendments has made them into.

Gillibrand may make a good proxy. But she does not make for a good ambassador. Spitzer would.

Some might say that his prostitution scandal would render him impotent when it comes to being able to get things done in the senate. I disagree. Yeah, his image is tainted. Sure he has an uphill battle to regain the respect of the world. But no matter what tawdry details of his sex life you may know, he's still Eliot friggin' Spitzer, a force to be reckoned with. And the school-yard style teasing in the senate would die down quickly as the steamroller reminded his colleagues why he gets things done.

It can probably be said that a senators effectiveness is directly proportional to how well his or her name resonates in the state's he or she doesn't represent. If I can't remember Gillibrand, what are the odds that anyone from Kansas can?

Yes, electing Spitzer would officially make us the laughingstock of the country temporarily. It's not something we want. But when the laughing dies down and Spitzer gets to work, the new one-two punch of Spitzer and Schumer would be exactly what we need.