THE BLOG

Send in the Clowns

07/23/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

The eyes of the New York political world, and perhaps the nation, have been turned on the New York State Senate. The coup and near counter-coup of a few renegade members have exposed the most "dysfunctional" state legislative body to editorial scorn and cartoon ridicule. Moreover it is impossible to comment on the madness because it is flowing non-stop like the thoughts of a character in a James Joyce novel. But this post is not about Bloomsday (June 16th) or the wanderings of those noble characters in Ulysses and Finnegan's Wake.

No, we speak today for a distinctly unrepresented minority who have been lost in these shenanigans only to surface as fodder for the amusement of pundits, cartoonists, and the headline writers at the NY Post. I speak of those who work in the circus world, especially the clowns. To compare these hard-working, well trained professionals to our state senate is an insult to anyone named Bozo, Clarabelle, or Emmett Kelly. In fact, Jerry Lewis, America's internationally recognized symbol of zany comedy, should lead a protest march on Albany. These senators are giving clowns, comedians, and con men a bad name.

I'm sure, some will think that clowns can't meet a deadline for school governance legislation and a circus couldn't enact a civil rights law. Fair point. My answer - neither can our esteemed senators while they fight over the office key ring. While they fiddle with the door knob, the Governor is relegated to the grandstand: booing, heckling, cajoling, pleading, ranting, praying... If Albany were a circus, there would be a ringmaster running the program; acrobats who appear on cue; perhaps a high wire act that thrills and chills but always delivers; elephants parading, standing, posing, moving in unison, even when moving in circles; horses and riders galloping, lions roaring, tigers snarling, bears biking...In short there would be organization, and the clowns would know their place, do their act, and leave the arena as practiced.

For years the state legislature and pundits have criticized the New York City Council as uninformed, uninspired, and unable to be a serious partner in governance to the Mayor's Office. Yet for the last 3 decades, the City Council has delivered an on-time, balance budget as required by law. The state legislature can make no such claim. Perhaps, some good will come of this - at least the estimable Eliot Spitzer believes so. Perhaps he hopes that history will look back on his administration, all 14 ½ months of it, as a lost opportunity to reform state politics. In fact, what we are seeing today is the result of his profligacy and carelessness. One of the shortest gubernatorial tenures has been followed by an even shorter period of Democratic control of the Senate. Spitzer promised to shake things up. That's one campaign promise delivered - but to what end? I say, send in the clowns - the real clowns - and watch professionals at work.