The Corner

Re: Paterson

I met David Paterson several times when he was a state senator and I was a journalist on Sunday Edition, the local CBS station’s Sunday morning talk show in NYC. Muckety-mucks would come on, and journalists would question them — Les Payne of Newsday was one of my colleagues. Paterson struck me as more intelligent than the average politician, and more humane. He sent me a letter after one show, following up on some point we had been discussing — conduct rare for any politician, unheard in the hack factory that runs New York State.

When he was thrust into the governorship I, like most New Yorkers, wished him well. And there were signs that, as he saw the mess that was Albany, he had shed his preconceptions as a legislator and viewed the disaster from an executive position.

Yet he was never able to bring the state government along. His predecessor, Eliot Spitzer, had energy and will, but he was such a putz that everyone hated him, and so he, coming from the opposite direction, was equally ineffective.

If it turns out that Paterson actually inserted himself into an ongoing domestic dispute between his aide and the aide’s girlfriend, that would suggest how alone he felt. The white establishment of the Democratic party had turned on him, the New York Times wants his head. The rough places must be made plain and the crooked straight for Andrew Cuomo, son of Mario. Perhaps Paterson’s near-blindness left him feeling encircled as well, and overeliant on trusted cronies.

Sad for him, sad for New York. Tea time, anyone?

Richard Brookhiser — Historian Richard Brookhiser is a senior editor of National Review and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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