Thursday, March 20, 2008

'A man of vision,' sort of

Well, that was fast.

David Paterson’s rapid ascension to the governorship of New York, and to a generally favorable view from the public and the tough New York press, took a tarnish Tuesday, when the new governor, his wife at his side, admitted to past infidelities — as his wife, Michelle Paige Paterson, did a few minutes later.

Paterson’s admission came in the wake of stories Monday and Tuesday in the New York Daily News and The New York Times that Paterson admitted having extramarital affairs with different women over several years. Michelle Paterson owned up to doing the same thing.

In a press conference in Albany, Paterson was careful to stress that he had not "violated any law", nor "violated [his] oath of office," nor "misused state [or campaign] funds."

People around the country would be entitled to wonder: Is there something in the water in New York that does this or what? First, then-governor Eliot Spitzer resigned in disgrace after being implicated in a prostitution ring, with possible criminal implications. Then, a day after taking office, Paterson admits to intimacies with a woman not his wife.

Stranger still, the nation got to discover what was, apparently, common knowledge among the Albany press corps. Who says reporters can’t keep a secret?

There were some real distinctions between Paterson’s indiscretions and Spitzer’s, mostly related to time. Paterson & wife strayed years ago and have since apparently reconciled their problems privately, without breaking the law.

But still. It’s no way to start doing the business of the people of New York. Bad personal ethics makes a challenging job that much more so, at least in the short term. It may well be that Paterson was thinking of damage control, thinking about the work to be done to get the state budget passed by April 1, thinking this was something he didn’t over his head until the next election. He couldn't keep this on the downlow forever. Best to just clear the air.

Fair enough. We just hope that’s all to this sordid little story. The air in some parts of New York is bad enough already.
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Image credit: Linda: "I live in upstate NY," Used under Creative Commons License Attribution Unported 3.0

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