What's the Matter With New York?

Something's amiss in the Empire State

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It's hard to keep track of all the New York political scandals. Fortunately, three non-New York publications have stepped in to help. Analysts at Politico, The Economist, and the L.A. Times have all stepped back to marvel at the Paterson blow-up, the Rangel affair, and other political tribulations of the Empire State. Here's what they make of the unspooling controversies:

While Republican leaders have drawn their share of blame (and indictments), New York is now effectively a one-party state. Its current scandals attach themselves to the dominant Democrats, and the riveting soap opera is feeding a narrative of corruption that threatens to deepen the party's national woes and distract from the White House's attempt to refocus the country on health care. And it also hastens a decades-long diminution of the state's 20th-century pre-eminence, a rise powered by the reform-driven Roosevelt presidencies.
  • The Criminality Runs Deep, writes The Economist in a skeptical critique of the state's politics:

"Corruption and ineptitude are bipartisan, but Dems at the moment seem to have the edge in criminality and incompetence," observes Doug Muzzio of Baruch College. Several former Democratic assemblymen have rap-sheets. One was sentenced to ten years last May for racketeering; another is serving six years for fraud after a 30-year career in the state Assembly. Hiram Monserrate was expelled from the state Senate last month after he was convicted of attacking his girlfriend. Other legislators are under investigation. Mr Paterson, a state legislator for two decades before he became lieutenant-governor, is as much a product of corrupt Albany as of the Harlem Clubhouse.

  • And It Just Keeps Coming, despairs Johanna Neuman at the Los Angeles Times:
Now comes word that Eric Massa, a first-term Upstate Democratic congressman, will not be seeking reelection. Massa says he is leaving Congress for health reasons. But turns out the congressman, who is married with two children, is being investigated by the House Ethics Committee for making unwanted advances toward a junior male staffer. In a bit of marvelous irony... on Massa's 50th birthday last September, his staff chipped in on a plaque for him engraved with a quote from Ronald Reagan: "You must have the courage to do what is morally right."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.