Two weeks past Labor Day, and we're still waiting for the Aqueduct decision. Halloween would be a fitting next target date.
I imagine that the Governor Paterson no doubt has his mind elsewhere at this time anyway, given the astounding revelation that President Obama personally signed off on a White House request - conveyed twice to the governor - that he not run for a full term next November. Paterson, who, it has been reported, hired a campaign manager after the first time the request was conveyed, continued to be defiant on Sunday. "My plans have not changed." [NY Daily News]
All of this made for a particularly bizarre and awkward scene on Monday, when Paterson was amongst the state delegation greeting the president himself as he visited the Capital District. Aside from the Belichickian handshake pictured here, Obama's body language is being dissected in videos like this and, in a more blatant instance, this.
I wrote at the time that Paterson's remarks alleging a racial bias in the press amounted to political hari kari, and it certainly wouldn't surprise me if that was indeed the final straw for a White House which the governor bucked when he bypassed Caroline Kennedy for the Senate. Man, Paterson must rue the day that she announced her interest in the seat. He was riding high in the polls then back in December, and it's been 'watch out, below' ever since (even if, as I've contended, much of the criticism was unfair).
Even if the Obama Administration has nothing more to say on the matter, it has cleared the way for Andrew Cuomo to challenge Paterson in the primary....and, hopefully as far as I and any rational person is concerned, nudged the hate-mongering former mayor of NYC towards sitting it out (so he can continue making his fortune exploiting the fears of 9/11). Paterson's resistance aside...and the Times reported on Monday that, in private, he is being more realistic....the governor's lame duck period has officially begun.
I still find it absolutely shocking though that his approval ratings are as low as they are - most recently at 20%! I mean, really, that's child molester territory for a politician...especially for a Democrat in New York! Paterson is not the only governor hurt in the polls because of unpopular measures taken to deal with budget crises. Not as badly as Paterson though. Jon Corzine is at 34% or 40% in New Jersey, depending on which poll you believe. Ed Rendell is down to 29% in Pennsylvania, and it would probably be lower if more people knew about that $84K maiden race at Philly Park! That's pretty bad, but still almost 50% higher than the governor of New York.
I think there's something else at play, seriously. We're not issuing IOU's in this state; his administration has been basically scandal-free (well, there was that little brouhaha over the statements after Kennedy withdrew), he kept the damn bastards in Albany to straighten out their little parliamentary problem, tried to dock their pay, and is credited by some for spurring the settlement. Yet, still, there's been no bounce at all.
Of course, those remarks on race didn't help, and of everything, he probably deserves his fate for losing his cool in that case. Still, I think there's something else, besides any resentment based on race, which I'm sure must be at least somewhat of a factor (though he fails the approval test even with African-Americans).
Here's my theory; wacky perhaps, but here goes: I think that those Saturday Night Live skits in which he and his handicap were mercilessly lampooned, just had to have a devastating and lasting effect on his perception by the public. Most people just don't follow state politics, even (especially?) many of those who closely track the national scene. It's easy for those who don't know a person to have their perception of him/her shaped by comedy and satire; I imagine that the Tina Fey skits had an effect too. However, Ms. Fey merely repeated and rephrased the former governor of Alaska's own words; Paterson was cruelly mocked for being legally blind, period. And, unfortunately....and I want to word this carefully.....but, let's be honest, the governor does not make a good appearance in his public speaking, and probably does nothing to dispel the image of him as portrayed both on TV and, now for 392,000 views on NBC's website. (And that's just for the first of the two skits.) So I think there are those whose opinions of him will never change. And it seems as if the governor will not have the opportunity to make them do so.
- As long as we're already off-topic, I'll briefly mention that State Senator Hiram Monseratte's trial for slashing his girlfriend with a glass started on Monday. Monseratte's fate will be determined by the judge instead of a jury, at his own request....a strange one considering that it's the same judge who remarked early on that the video evidence makes the blood boil. The prosecution will introduce hospital workers who will testify that the victim initially told them that it was no accident before recanting her story. The Senator is invoking the Claudine Longet defense.
“He stumbled in the confines of a small and pitch-dark room....In that instant, water splashed on Ms. Giraldo, startling her, causing her to jerk with an upwards motion, colliding with Mr. Monserrate’s hand, causing him to fall backwards onto the floor.” [NY Times]Now, that's worth a skit on Saturday Night Live!