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March 19, 2008

Channeling the Kingfish

Kevin E. Dayhoff

On Monday, New York Gov. Eliot “Mr. Clean” Spitzer’s resignation took affect. To be sure, the country has been in a deep funk ever since the fall 2006 elections, but the last 10 days was not good for the weak-kneed political observer.


Last week, just when you were about to get your nerve up to watch or read the news, the story broke that (now former) New York Governor Spitzer had violated his marriage vows and broken a number of laws by having an extra-marital affair with an “aspiring singer.”


Governor Spitzer mercifully resigned March 12 and ended a sensational 48 hours of salacious melodrama of position, power, greed, and human failings.


Meanwhile, the economy remains unsteady on its feet. The dollar is in the tank, oil and gold prices have reached historic highs, food prices are on the rise, many families can barely afford to turn on the electric lights – and everyday brings more doom and gloom over the sub-prime mortgage foreclosure mess.


This is all occurring against the backdrop of the longest presidential campaign in history.


Last week the mainstream media began to finally critically analyze the aspiring presidential candidacy of Sen. Barack Obama (D., IL) – the hope of the nation to save us from Sen. Hillary Clinton (D., NY).


The results were not good for the fainting masses of “Obamaniacs,” who have decided that his candidacy is not merely providence but messianic.


In the waning months of the Bush presidency, we emerge from a long winter with an ever-growing profound leadership void in America as President George W. Bush eyes leaving the Oval Office – stage right.


Nevertheless, much of the nation continues to suffer from “Bush Derangement Syndrome,” a malady in which even the best educated and brightest people on the left are convinced that everything and anything from weather events to bridge collapses, to the latest strain of the flu – are all President Bush’s fault.


However, the roots of this leadership malaise run even deeper and have many causes.


First, as the months wore-on after the populist-driven Democratic Wave Theory swept the liberal Democrats to control of Congress in the fall of 2006, the nation rudely awoke to discover that the Democrats could not deliver on their populist promises. The results have been a “do-nothing” Congress and a leadership void of historic proportions.


Add to that a political deconstruction of the Democratic Party by the two-leading candidates throwing everything at each including the kitchen sink. Senators Obama and Clinton are now in a “World Wrestling Confederation” steel cage match to see who can out-do the other with empty populism.


Oh, it sounds great, but just like the promises of the Democratic Party before the fall 2006 elections, there is no way they can follow-through; and if they did, it would bankrupt the nation.


It is as if both Senators Obama and Clinton are channeling the memory of one of the country’s most famous demagogues, the late, great “Kingfish” Huey Long, who before his death, held the offices of governor and senator in Louisiana.


In the early 1930s, before the Social Security Act of 1935 was passed by Congress, Kingfish Long promoted his “Share the Wealth” program. According to one historical account, his program was going to make “every man a king” by providing a $30-per-month pension for the poor.


“Under Long's Share the Wealth program, every family in America was guaranteed a minimum annual income of $2,000, and each family was to be given $5,000 to buy a home, an automobile, and a radio. Senator Long proposed to fund the plan by confiscating the assets of the wealthy.”


Sound familiar?


This brings us back full circle to the rise and fall of Client Number 9 – Governor Spitzer.


The ironies abound in this tragedy and provide us with a fitting allegory of the times in which we live.


In his previous job as attorney general of New York, he had gained a reputation as a ruthless boar in his relentless crusade against wrongdoing on Wall Street. To further his own political ambitions, he made it great sport to ruin the reputations of Wall Street executives, often using the very same laws that, in the end, brought about his own demise.


Once he took over the governor’s office, he quickly proceeded to go back on as many of his campaign promises as possible.


He raised taxes, added to the state’s payroll, and increased spending by seven percent. In the paradox of contemporary taxation policy, the more New York raised taxes, the larger the state deficit grew. New York residents and businesses fled the state in astronomical numbers – and as he leaves office, he leaves behind a huge budget deficit and $2 billion in new taxes.


Hmmm – sound familiar?


Aside from the fact that the man broke laws, participated in the victimization of young women, broke his marriage vows and violated the public’s sacred trust, is the fact that he allegedly spent $80,000 on this nefarious activity. Not to overlook the question of what in the world is worth $5,000 per hour.


Governor Spitzer’s hypocrisy exemplifies the continuing disconnect that our political leadership has with American families.


While people at home struggle to pay for gas, groceries, and taxes; teach their children the difference between right and wrong, and keeping your word, he’s out on the town and blowing $80,000 to spend time with an “aspiring-singer.”


Can you only imagine the difference that kind of money could make in our local community?


Yes, it is understood that the man is a multi-billionaire and is alleged to have been spending his own money…


This, of course, misses the entire point that public office has requisite responsibilities and many Americans feel disenfranchised and alienated because there are too many “Spitzers” in office, locally, in Annapolis, and nationally, who aren’t doing their job and aren’t honest with us.


They all want to be the “Kingfish.”


Kevin Dayhoff writes from Westminster: E-mail him at:


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