Paterson doesn’t lack guts
David Paterson is one smart guy sometimes. He knows that the last thing the White House wants is a New York state primary. His opponents want him out of the race but he is the governor, so he is staying in the race, period. It’s like an epic High Noon-type western. No one seems to think the guy has a chance. The townspeople won’t fight with him or for him but Paterson has it doped out. If he stays in, Andrew Cuomo will have to primary him. This will not make the people who told him to get out very happy. That may well be why we have seen the vilifying, crucifying campaign against Paterson. Excruciating pressure has been laid on the governor and it is bound to get worse. This is such a tough game that Paterson may end up facing criminal charges.
In a brilliant tactical move when he was inaugurated, Paterson brought reporters into a room and told them what seemed like every one of his dirty little secrets, as in sex, drugs and rock and roll. That way, the elephant was off the table. Go rent that movie where the campaign manager says, “Get it out early if you have indiscretions.” Then, any time anyone raises them you can say, “Oh that’s old news.” For a while it worked but it would appear that some force has gone back to the file in order to recycle the same old material. A rumor that circulated all over Albany said that Paterson would be forced to retire. It didn’t work. You got to give him this, the man has guts. I don’t know if I could take it.
Of course, things could backfire. The suspects in promoting the rumor are the White House, who told Paterson to get out and stay out, and who let everyone who might run against Kirsten Gillibrand know that they should stay out. In other words, the last thing the forces arrayed against Paterson want is a primary. But if Andrew Cuomo wants to fulfill his manifest destiny and take his father’s corner office on the second floor of the Capitol, he will be forced into the very primary that the troops, including Senators Schumer and Gillibrand and the White House, do not want.
By standing firm and running for his term as an elected Governor, Paterson is calling their bluff in this very high stakes game. Hence, I’m guessing that the forces arrayed against him will continue to bring unbelievable pressure against him. How dirty will things get? Well, Chuck Schumer just named the new U.S. Attorney. Will Paterson now face an investigation of one kind or another by the top federal attorney in his district? If that happens, will it involve drug use or the awarding of state contracts to political allies? Does everyone remember when the United States Senate, including Chuck Schumer, investigated the Republican White House for politicizing the justice system in the United States?
You know, when something like the Paterson crucifixion happens, there is usually a reason why. I keep thinking of that old movie, “Chinatown,” where it all came down to water rights in LA. I was thinking about that when Hiram Monserrate was expelled from the Senate. It was like an old carnival huckster diverting your eyesight so that he could pull an act of legerdemain right before your eyes. Am I the only one that saw the strong fight for ethics reform pushed right off the front page by Hiram’s disgusting actions? In the ethics fight every legislator would have had to face new and game-changing reforms, like disclosing who the lawyer-legislators were taking money from. By throwing Monserrate out, our attention was diverted from the bigger fight.
Albany politics can be a beautiful thing but the stench is getting greater and greater. The fumes from the sewer are rising to the street level. The people can be fooled and apparently that is happening once again. But this could really hurt those in the game. Keep your eye on their hands.
Originally Published in the Legislative Gazette, 2/16/10