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Democracy

Democracy

By Maggie Gallagher - June 11, 2009

The sausage-making isn't always pretty. Sometimes, at least, it's kind of amusing.

This week in Albany, N.Y., a "coup" was staged.

If you don't live in a democracy, "coup" is short for "coup d'etat." That is when guys with guns (or in the old days, swords) take out the leader of your government and take over power in the "off with their heads" manner.

Fortunately, in the New York State Legislature, a "coup" means that two Democrats in the closely divided Senate decided to vote with the Republicans and make former minority leader Sen. Dean Skelos the new majority leader.

How did Sen. Malcolm Smith, the displaced majority leader, and the Democrats respond? Gov. David Paterson sputtered he would not stand for it, and then admitted there was nothing he could do. Smith, queried by reporters about what was happening, whimpered, "I don't know. I'm trying to find out right now."

And then the Democrats tried to stop reality by cutting the lights, the cameras and the Internet all at once. I mean, if the bloggers can't see it, it can't be happening, right?

Smith first had a little Al Haig moment, in the third person no less. "The Senate majority is still in Democratic hands," he said, adding, "Malcolm Smith is still the majority leader."

Then Smith wrapped himself in the Albany equivalent of the flag: "I'm not going to have this institution, which is a very proud institution, be demeaned in a manner like this."

But although the flag, as a proud symbol of our nation, may not be what it once was, surely wrapping oneself in it beats wrapping oneself in the institution of the New York State Senate, at least when it comes to inspiring symbols, the takeover of which could conceivably outrage voters. I mean wrapping oneself in the state Senate is a little like wrapping oneself in dead fish containers, no?

Republicans meanwhile huddled with the two Democratic swing votes -- both facing legal questions about past bad behavior but, hey, the Democrats who won the majority with these guys' votes can't really complain about ethics, can they?

The New York Times tried to say that gay marriage and abortion rights were at stake. But the new Senate president pro tempore (and next in line of succession for the governorship of New York), Sen. Pedro Espada -- the first Latino ever to hold this high office (Sotomayor, eat your heart out!) -- immediately said he would continue to push for passage of the gay marriage bill. New majority leader Dean Skelos is unlikely to believe, however, that the voters of New York really want a big fight about gay marriage at this time. Because, frankly, we don't.

But in reality it appears that billionaire Tom Golisano's promise to provide needed campaign dollars if one or two Dems temporarily jumped ship to support his so-called reform agenda appeared to be far more influential than anything New York voters think. Golisano, an erstwhile Republican reformer, appears to have discovered rather late the truly great truth first uttered by South Park creator Matt Stone:

"I hate conservatives, but I really f---ing hate liberals."

Golisano was last in the news for promising to flee New York state for Florida ("the sixth borough") in order to protest the new tax on high-income New Yorkers. Rumor has it he's moving back to run for governor.

Can an expat billionaire's revolt against taxing the rich really be the basis for a genuine two-party revival in the state of New York?

Rudy Giuliani, who recently came out against gay marriage, must be licking his chops.

MaggieBox2004@yahoo.com

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