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Sunday, February 28, 2010

Heat's Still On

Governor Paterson may be out of the race, but that's not enough as far as the press and critics across the political spectrum are concerned. The News and the Post want him out; big surprise there. The latter's editorial is a particularly sleazy piece; therein, the Post, the only paper to ignore the alleged abuse victim's plea for privacy, repeats a charge it reported the day before about a $40,000 Lexus that the woman purchased, for cash, a few weeks before she effectively dropped the abuse matter by not showing up in court. But this time, the paper doesn't even bother to mention the cash settlement she'd recently won from her landlord over an accident on the property.

And the Times, apparently not quite satisfied with the results of its efforts thus far, editorialized at the top of page A1 of Sunday's print edition with a headline reading: Paterson Faces A Big Question: Can He Govern? And inside is a column by Jim Dwyer in which he asserts that Paterson's transgressions - apparent abuses of power involving a victim of domestic violence - were "far worse" than those of former Governor Spitzer, and lamenting that Paterson hasn't followed his predecessor's lead and resigned.

I'm not sure about that, though I understand his point. Paterson is accused of interfering in a case involving his friend in which a woman was allegedly abused (I'll add that word even if Mr. Dwyer doesn't), while Spitzer's affairs were a private matter. But were they really private if they affected his public work, as it certainly did in one case, as we all know very well. Spitzer spent ample time plotting his ill-fated rendezvous in Washington as a crucial deadline involving NYRA was being reached. And besides, do you think that Spitzer showed any less lack of judgment and common sense than did Paterson, or any less disrespect for the various women in his life?

The question to me is as the Times posed - can he govern? Some argue that he has compromised himself too much, and told too many untruths. Others point to his familiarity with the budget issues and his liberation from the conflicts and distractions that an election race inevitably brings. But to me, the key is articulated at the very end of the Times piece.

Of course, some take the long view. Albany never really seems to function efficiently. The idea that Mr. Paterson’s problems in particular will throw it off kilter is laughable, they say.

“People are thinking abstractly that things would go back to normal if only the governor’s issues were resolved. Wake up!” said Senator Eric T. Schneiderman, a Democrat who represents Upper Manhattan and part of the Bronx. “If we had an amalgamated version of Al Smith and Franklin Roosevelt, this place would still be a mess.” [NY Times]
None of this is written to defend the governor's actions, either in this matter, or in his actions and statements leading up to and following his selection of AEG. However, I still find him to be more of a sympathetic figure placed in an impossible position than an evil soul. His biggest crime in my view was being in over his head. Commenters on this blog and elsewhere have repeatedly referred to his political naivete, and I wholeheartedly agree. But if that's his biggest fault, then that's not such a terrible fault in the scheme of the world at large. So I'm hoping that he gets the opportunity to bring the budget issues that he was the first to sound the alarm on to some kind of acceptable conclusion, leave office with a measure of contentment and with his reputation at least partly restored, and go off somewhere to a happy retirement.

Who knows, maybe AEG will have a nice spot for him at the Big A! (OK, Chris?)


jk said...

> can he govern?

He was not doing much governing before the latest news came out. The State Government was already in gridlock with the Senate fiasco. Who has been doing any governing in Albany of late? Is this latest revelation preventing Albany Pols from doing their usual business of backroom deals with under the table payments?

Anonymous said...

Since he is not running for re-election and is under tremendous scrutiny his opinion can theoretically not be swayed by campaign contributions and/or flat out bribes, making more likely to make decisions based on what is best for the citizens of the state in an attempt to secure some type of favorable legacy.

Consequently he can not "govern" in Albany and needs to be removed fortwith.

alan said...

Anon 7:21 - Well put, thanks for the Monday morning laugh.

Anonymous said...

Agree on Gov Paterson- he was dealt a nearly impossible hand and there is no sense in making him the scapegoat. There are numerous players to blame. As JFK once memorably put it: "Victory has a thousand fathers but defeat is just another orphan".

I am still a big fan of the notion that character is the sine qua non of leadership. How quaint. And this is not a back door slap at David Paterson- he was next in the line of succession. He was well liked in Albany but it was not enough under the circumstances.

I think it is on the national stage where we see the most damaging lack of character, specifically in the executive and legislative branches.Sooner or later the governed no longer willingly give their consent to be governed by those who repeatedly show a lack of character./s/greenmtnpunter

El Angelo said...

At what point has Paterson ever showed a scintilla of ability to govern?

mikeE said...

Yeah -- or maybe a nice spot in Elko.

SaratogaSpa said...

If it quacks like a duck, it is a duck. We can compare him to Spitzer and anyone else in the State Legislature, but it is what it is, and Paterson screwed up, plain and simple.