Mr. Smith Goes to Albany

I’ve admittedly been over-fascinated by the “coup” that took place in Albany yesterday. Interestingly, one of the potential scenarios if the Democrats were to regain control of the Senate places our own David Valesky at the top of the list to assume the position of fallen Majority Leader Malcolm Smith. Although this is unlikely for the time being, if the Democrats do regain control of the chamber anytime within the next year or two, it is probable that Smith will be out as leader of the Democrats, and someone like Valesky will be in.

Rather than going on and on chronicling what happened yesterday (there’s great video over at Capitol Confidential) I’ve been thinking a lot about the dramatics of what happened. A couple of weeks back my wife and I watched Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (for me it was about the tenth time, but it was my wife’s first viewing). Today I was watching through some of the video of what happened, and I discovered that the scene in Albany for the past couple of days must have mirrored what Frank Capra envisioned when he made Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. Indeed, the characters in yesterday’s coup match up pretty closely with the characters in the movie.

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Jefferson Smith as played by Malcolm Smith: Bright-eyed, hopeful, ignorant of human nature.

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Senator Joseph Paine and Chick McGann as played by Dean Skelos and Pedro Espada (Hiram Monserrate as stunt double): Pawns who will eventually come to regret their roles.

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Jim Taylor as played by Tom Golisano: Arrogant, obsessed with power and control, his never-ending supply of money and clout allow him to be a player where he doesn’t belong.

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President of the Senate as played by Tom Libous: Vocal, yet largely unimportant.

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Governor Hopper as played by Governor David Paterson: Absent.

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Saunders as played by Angry Protesters outside Sen. Espada’s Office: Mad as hell and not going to be pushed around anymore.

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Diz Moore as played by the rest of us: dazed and confused, trying to sort out the mess.

I promise this will be my last post directly commenting on the situation in Albany, but it needs to be said again that a strong push for intergovernmental reform in our local and state politics is critical. Although Tom Golisano would have you believe this new government will be bi-partisan, the reality is that the new Senate chamber will be controlled by 30 Republicans and 2 Democrats who were power hungry and thirsty for some member items.


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