David Paterson’s election kickoff was held at Hofstra University on Long Island, and if you just landed in this town you might have been impressed. Paterson was in fighting mode, and his strategy certainly seemed shrewd: Play the outsider, attack the lobbyists, the media, act like the underdog. The governor, as usual, had rehearsed his lines well, and delivered them crisply. He also interspersed his trademark humor, and did manage to fire up the audience. A newcomer to New York gubernatorial politics might say, “Hey, this guy is good.”
And of course, that is the problem with David Paterson. He is talented, charming, bright, and is a very good public speaker. He can play the part of the tough guy, and actually pull it off. But then, you start to look a little closer. There are no major public officials standing by his side, including the woman he appointed to the post of United States Senator, Kirsten Gillibrand. She said she had “other commitments.”
We don’t know if he called to invite her, but if he did, it might have gone something like this:
Governor: “Hi Kirsten, it’s me, David.”
Senator: “David? David who?”
Governor: “Funny, that’s what the media is calling me! David Paterson, the governor.”
Senator: “Oh of course, how could I forget?”
Governor: “I was wondering, I’m having this campaign kickoff Saturday, and wanted to know if you could stop by . . . Hello?”
Senator: “Saturday? Oh, uh, Saturday, yeah that’s tough. That’s the day we clean out the garage. And polish the shotguns. You know, the things regular New Yorkers do! Not the things people from Tennessee do.”
Governor: “Huh? Tennessee?”
Senator: “Well yes there’s this vice chair of Merrill Lynch from Tennessee.”
Governor: “Uh, I gotta go, but you don’t have to commit right now. In fact you could cancel two hours before. I do it all the time!”
Senator: “Well, I’ll think about it. How are you doing, by the way?”
Governor: “You mean since I plucked you from political obscurity by picking you for the Senate, thereby dissing Caroline Kennedy, and turning the entire political establishment against me including the President of the United States, and then tanked 40 points in the polls? Well, alright I guess. I’m the underdog, and I got that going for me.”
Senator: “Well, politics is tough, but you do have a few supporters. I’ve seen them on TV.”
Governor: “Oh that’s right! Do you have Rick Lazio’s number?”
I find an interesting contrast in two people who are not running for office. There is Andrew Cuomo, who is not yet running for governor, and Harold Ford, Jr., who is not yet running for Senate. But while Cuomo continues to be the stealth candidate, Ford is seemingly running as fast and hard as he can.
In fact, this might be the nastiest race between two candidates (Ford and Gillibrand) that has not even started. Gillibrand is still miles ahead of Ford, and may be benefiting from his attacks. She looks tougher, and shows that she knows how to throw a few elbows. Ford could be a real contender, but its very tough running from the right of Gillibrand.
I was fascinated that when Tiger Woods gave his mea culpa to the world last week. It seemed to be a unique event in American history. Aside from someone on the level of President of the United States (candidates, etc), I cannot recall anyone addressing the nation, live, on all the networks, cable or otherwise. So Tiger has reached a new level of status. He was just like a good pol, though. His handlers seemed to manage the message. It appears he rehearsed his heartfelt apology, right down to the dramatic pauses, faux displays of emotion, and extended post-game hugs. I’m glad to see that Tiger is getting help for his “problem,” sex addiction. Is that like food addiction? You know, when they tell you to just stop eating? No, probably not. It sounds like something much worse. Its good he’s gone to rehab. I’m sure he’s cured by now.