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Friday, January 3, 2020

Politics and the Art of Hypocrisy

     On Christmas Eve 2019, an upstate New York newspaper, The Daily Messenger of Canadaigua, published an op-ed by Brian Kolb, the 67-year-old minority leader of the New York State Assembly. Mr. Kolb had first been first elected to the Assembly in 2000 and became its minority leader in 2009. The Republican lawmaker, in his newspaper piece, urged his constituents to avoid driving under the influence during the holiday period, good advice for anytime of the year.

     At ten o'clock Tuesday night, New Year's Eve 2019, Assemblyman Brian Kolb, while driving his state issued 2018 GMC Acadia on County Road 41 near his hometown of Victor, New York, lost control of the vehicle and ended up in a roadside ditch.

     A short time after the accident, a deputy with the Ontario County Sheriff's Office took Mr. Kolb into custody on the charge of driving while intoxicated. The Assemblyman, after being issued a ticket, was released from custody and driven home.

     The next day, the Assemblyman's office released the following statement: "This was a terrible lapse of judgment, one I have urged others not to make, and I take full responsibility for it. I want to offer sincere apologies to my family, friends, colleagues and the people of the 131st Assembly District. I fully recognize that severity of the situation and I am profoundly sorry. There is no excuse and no justification for what occurred Tuesday evening. I made the wrong decision, and it is one I deeply regret."

     Assemblyman Kolb's full-throated apology didn't impress one of his Democrat colleagues, Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara who called for Mr. Kolb's resignation as the Assembly minority leader. Brian Kolb's political opponent called the DWI incident a "serious" crime.

      Cases like this make all politicians uncomfortable because they remind voters that in one form or another, they are all hypocrites. Compared to the widespread corruption within our political classes, a first-time DWI offense where no one is injured, while highly embarrassing and perhaps politically damaging, is not a serious crime. And as a lawmaker, Assemblyman Santabarbara should know this. His calling it serious as justification for the minority leader's resignation, is just another example of political hypocrisy. 

1 comment:

  1. People call for resignation of the other party all the time in my state, Illinois. It’s so common it just becomes background noise. One senator (who resigned for other reasons) had a fundraiser with 1500 people at a golf course where people were encouraged to wear costumes. So some guest points a toy gun at a partygoer wearing a Trump mask. He didn’t even know about it until a photo showed up on Facebook. You should have heard all the demands for his resignation. Another, a Marine veteran lost it during a debate about lawsuit caps and told her opponent she wanted his family to consume Legionella bacteria and get sick. A terrible thing to say and she did apologize. You should have heard the demands for resignation for that one.
    At least Kolb’s transgression made the threshold of breaking the law.
    A good rule of thumb, if calls for resignation are made by members of the same party then it’s worth paying attention. If not ignore.