In the book, The Walrus and the Carpenter, the walrus eating the oysters says, “I weep for you. I deeply sympathize.” It is hard not to sympathize with New York State’s 55th Governor.
Braving subterranean support, told by his own party’s White House auf Wiedersehen, goodnight, David Paterson is a gone goose, the lamest duck, not flying right because he flew too left. He vows to seek re-election next year. The cow will jump over the moon before he wins.
Paterson’s delicate condition recently surfaced in liberalism’s Pravda, The New York Times, citing Barack Obama’s supposed view that the Governor is unelectable. Whether Paterson runs is irrelevant. If he were a car, it would be a clunker marked do not return.
One is not Paterson’s loneliest number. It is 17: his Marist Poll percent approval rating. In a Quinnipiac survey, fellow Democrat Andrew Cuomo routs him, 61-15. By 63-25 percent, Empire Staters want Paterson to leave. At the same time, 62-27 reject Obama’s meddling. Franklin Roosevelt called a colleague “an SOB, but our SOB.” The Governor is New Yorkers‘ problem, and they’ll dispose of him themselves.
Paterson’s mess is largely self-inflicted (below). That should not cloud his strengths. He is a pioneer, New York State’s first black and sight-impaired Governor. He is decent, courteous, a rarity in Albany — a politician funny on purpose. His 2008 Inaugural fused Mel Brooks, Henny Youngman, and Mr. Rogers: a brilliant tour de force. Looking back, Paterson should have quit while ahead.
In January, he was at 60 percent, the State Senate a seeming lock. Obama’s swoon and Paterson’s collapse have opend the GOP door. “We need a strong candidate to head our ticket — Cuomo,” says a Democrat. If Paterson objects, money being the mother’s milk of politics, the Governor will be squeezed dry. Stick a fork in 55. He’s done: worse, if he runs, apparently brain-numb.
Shirley McLain’s memoir read, You Can Get There From Here. Conceding drug use and infidelity didn’t help Paterson’s trek. Treating Caroline Kennedy like last week’s mashed potatoes wasn’t ooh-ah either. Paterson’s misery index ties 8.6 percent unemployment, a non-stimulus fund $12.5 billion deficit, and 150,000 New Yorkers leaving since predecessor Eliot Spitzer slithered out of town.
At one time or another, Paterson has tried to enact more than 150 taxes. Profiting: public unions, lobbyists, and waste and fraud. Vowing centrism, he lurched left from gay marriage to illegal amnesty. He now says, “I didn’t ask for this [Governship].” Paterson might have been happier had Spitzer been the Husband of the Year.
In 1972, liberal columnist Tom Braden twitted Democratic nominee George McGovern for “reminding us of those school teachers who couldn’t keep the class. Nice people, too. One looks back with sympathy and a sense of shame. But at the time — was it that they were too nice? — their classes were a shambles. The erasers flew when they turned their backs.”
New York’s Governor didn’t “keep the class,” Albany in shambles. Erasers fly behind his back, and to his face. Nice, Paterson is not respected. Trying to lead, he is ignored. In life, it helps to compartmentalize. FDR dissembled, but saved America. Adulterer John F. Kennedy embodied the Young Man and the Sea. Brilliant as a fox, Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton could act stupid as an ass. Paterson is human, politics often inhumane.
Thus, let us praise as we bury New York’s accidental Governor. Some people choose the wrong spouse. Perhaps Paterson chose the wrong field. I sympathize with his coming ouster. If politics is the walrus, New York’s head oyster is about to be consumed. Paterson was a bad fit. That does not make him a bad man.
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