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Editorial Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, March 13, 2008

I Love NY

By Jo E. Prout 

How should one react to the disgraced exit of our governor? Let me count the ways. 

To quote Popeye, “I am disgustipated.”  

I suppose I could stop there, but where’s the fun in that?

Fun? What a shallow columnist I must be. I epitomize the reason folks hate the media — except, of course, when there is a scandal to follow on every news channel available by satellite, and the media is our only source of amusement, entertainment, or news. Where’s the sympathy? Empathy? Compassion?

 It’s there, trust me. Trust me, the way we trust all of our politicians to be upstanding citizens, until they get caught.

Cynicism? Not at all. The interest we display as we devour pages of news stories and hours of repetitious cable news reports is probably just a way of measuring what would happen should our own skeletons in the closet be exposed, except that the scale would be smaller. None of us are the governor, after all.

I’m not casting stones. I’m observing the stone-throwers and their choices of weapons.

“Oh, that’s a big one. That’s gonna hurt.”

As for the observers who have thrown down their pebbles and stated strongly that old laws do not apply in our new century, and that private matters should have no bearing on public service, I have to wonder what kinds of skeletons they’re hiding that make them so callous. Are they, in fact, clients 6, 18, and 22? I could be wrong, but I don’t think any of the brothel-defenders are women.

As a woman, I would say to the former governor, “What a jerk!” That’s not a stone. Sometimes we’re all jerks.

As a mother, I refuse to have a conversation about his misbehavior with my young son, who this week kept asking me what the governor had done. My husband and I, feeling much like colleagues who had young children when President Clinton redefined the word “is,” told our son that the governor had hired someone to commit a crime.

Hiring someone to commit a crime is a crime. That was as far as I was willing to go. Why should the governor’s mistakes change our family’s timetable on when my son should “grow up” and learn some of the ways of the world? The trouble is, young children are bright, are capable of reading newspapers, and are notorious for asking “why?”

As a fellow university-educated person, I would also say, “What a jerk!” Again, no stone here.

Who among us is exactly where we thought we would be 20 years ago? Did we all use our innate, brilliant brain-power to save the world and make our fortunes, or did we do stupid things? Not all of us did, but many of us have no stones to throw here, either. But, still; duh!

As a reporter, albeit one who doesn’t cover state politics, I am giddy. Tee-hee. This is the kind of story that keeps the juices flowing and prods that adrenaline to counter the endless, droning meetings that are the other part of being a reporter.

Yes, there is still sympathy for the individual, but the individual is less important than the office held. The change in the status quo is the real focus. The name of the perpetrator doesn’t really matter. It’s the abuse of power of an office that matters — the abuse that was often expected by the poor average citizens, but rarely shown the light of day.

“[Insert abuse here] happened, again! Yup, we knew it. It was only a matter of time!” the citizens say. We’re not devastated. We’re justified in our — not cynicism, never cynicism — realism. It’s all in a day’s work, especially in New York State. We all know, or think we do here in Albany, how politics work. There’s always a good story to be found.

As a Texan transplant, I say, “Yee-haw! It’s great to be a New Yorker!” How can you top that?

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