Three Editors in a Room
This article is from the archive of The New York Sun before the launch of its new website in 2022. The Sun has neither altered nor updated such articles but will seek to correct any errors, mis-categorizations or other problems introduced during transfer.
They call it “Three Men in a Room” when, in Albany, the governor, the Assembly Speaker, and the Senate majority leader get together to decide budget, and other, matters in the state. So what do they call it when the three biggest newspapers the state get together and all endorse the same opponent of Speaker Sheldon Silver in tomorrow’s Democratic primary? Three editors in a room?
We doubt the editors of the Daily News, the New York Times, and the New York Post actually conspired to endorse Mr. Silver’s opponent, Paul Newell. But they all apparently have decided that it would be a good thing if what is ostensibly the second most powerful — or arguably the most powerful — job in the state were to go to someone from another city, while replacing Mr. Silver with a candidate who is even further to the left than he is.
Forgive us, but we don’t see the logic. This isn’t an endorsement of Mr. Silver; we’re several kilo-parsecs to his right, and if we lived in the district, we’d vote Republican. But neither do we think it’s in the interest of the voters of his district, or anybody else, to replace him with someone who is even further to the left.
Nor, we don’t mind saying, do we share the unreserved hostility toward Mr. Silver that one sometimes hears around town. Some normally level-headed individuals describe him by using words like “evil.” In our several encounters with Mr. Silver, we’ve found him to be eminently likeable, although maddening, because that he’s so smart and shrewd.
It happens that a week or so ago he called us and proposed a cup of coffee. He showed up at the local Starbucks with no aides or trappings save a dashing straw hat, and we talked over the issues that divide us. On the millionaires’ tax he proposes, he sees the spending cuts the governor is seeking as impacting largely on the less well-off parts of our society, and he thinks any deal should include the rich.
It’s not the way we think about things. We tend to focus on incentives and policies that promote work, capital formation, immigration — growth. He thinks in terms of equity, fairness, and deals. Our view is that growth itself begets fairness. But how any of this would be helped by a candidate who is even farther to the left is beyond us. We talked about a number of other issues on which we disagree, and found, despite our differences, the Speaker’s responses deftly put and illuminating.
We mention that only to suggest that one can have a real conversation with Mr. Silver. He is nobody’s fool. And on some major issues in recent years, we have agreed with him. He opposed the West Side Stadium, blocked congestion pricing, and, after Alan Hevesi resigned, insisted on the authority of the Assembly to name a new comptroller. Those were important fights, and he was right in all of them.
Certainly no Assemblyman delivers more for his district than Mr. Silver does, which may be why he has racked up in the past such large margins on the Lower East Side. The bigger fight is about the future of reform in the Assembly, and we don’t think the nomination of Mr. Newell is the solution. The right solution is the advancement of politicians, in either party but particularly the Republicans, who are wedded, as a matter of principle, to pro-growth policies and to the spirit of dynamism that is New York’s greatest asset. This means candidates who fight for low taxation, modest government, deregulation, free trade, and more open immigration. And who appreciate the role of our city’s biggest crop, which is capital gains. A candidate making such a campaign on the Lower East Side would be someone to endorse in a primary.