Malcolm Smith took a moment this morning to praise the entirety of the Senate (Republicans included) for allowing Senator Ruth Hassell-Thompson to come back and vote despite her extremely unfortunate rushes to the hospital this week. Both parties agreed to hold off on voting and not play partisan politics over this very human moment. However, Malcolm Smith tried to make the situation into something it is not.
From The Daily Politics:
On the Senate floor this morning, Majority Leader Malcolm Smith and Minority Leader Dean Skelos put their partisanship aside for a moment of mutual admiration, praising one another for the deal struck to allow Sen. Ruth Hassell-Thompson to vote on budget deals."I want to express my appreciation to Sen. Skelos and to all my colleagues," Smith said. "This is a day that I think the 19 million people of New York have come to recognize this is a fine chamber, irrespective of all that the papers have written, the editorial boards have said."
"Today we have proven to all of New York that we are a distinguished body that we are also a body that has a heart and understands the challenges that face this state and we rise above that."
Now I'm not discounting the graciousness of Skelos and Smith in letting Hassell-Thompson vote. What I am criticizing is Smith's blatant attempt at using Hassell-Thompson's illness and the Senate Leadership's reaction as a way to hit back against all the negative press that Smith and the Senate rightly deserves.
The 19 million people of New York want to see that their Senators are working to address their needs and will take care of business that concerns the General will, not each Senator's particular will (I'm sure Rousseau would be amused by Smith's statement today).
The papers, editorials and blogs write what they do because there is plenty to criticize. Whether it be about budget inaction, ignoring the real problems that the M.T.A. faces or refusing to enact real reform in the "distinguished body" that shows Smith and his caucus is ready to change the way Albany does business. Instead, the budget process has been behind closed doors for the most part and hidden from the public. If Smith and his colleagues had 'heart' then nearly everything that has happened this year in our capitol would have gone down differently.