News & Politics

NY Mag on the Paterson ‘Weirdness’ Factor


Here’s the nut graf from a mostly generous New York Magazine profile today on our embattled governor: “The only guarantee is a large helping of weirdness.”

That’s not reporter Chris Smith talking, but the sum-up conclusion of his conversations with those who know David Paterson fairly well. Here’s another from “one exasperated adviser”: “He is an extraordinarily unusual politician. His degree of thinking aloud; his degree of openly and verbally changing his mind; his ability to argue passionately to do something two completely different ways…”

Then there’s the gov’s own interesting observations:

On handling his first budget after his patron, Eliot Spitzer, resigned in the spring of 2008: “I said, ‘Look, the governor did not have me working on the budget this year. I have no idea what the issues are,’ ” Paterson says now. (This from a man who had already spent 20 years in the state senate.)

And here he is on his former legislative colleagues: “Some of them are just nasty people. They just are. I knew that when I was minority leader and half the time spent too much time trying to keep them out of trouble.”

There’s also some genuine self-revelation about growing up legally blind, putting his current political troubles into perspective:

“I remembered the alienation of disability, being ridiculed as a child, that kind of thing, being left out of things,” Paterson says. “In school they’d tell us to read something, and it would take me an hour to read a couple of pages. And because I was in public school and I was one of the first legally blind students in public school, the message I got was, ‘Don’t say anything and you won’t get into trouble.’ Times like that, there’s a tremendous feeling of loneliness, a tremendous feeling of isolation. I’d go to birthday parties, and the parents seemed very apprehensive about having me there. Those were the real struggles in my life–not being governor. Not being reelected as governor? If you told me, when I was feeling that ridiculed and alienated, ‘Here’s the deal: We’ll get you out of this, but you’re not going to get reelected as governor.’ Hey! That’s not bad. I’d sign for it.”



Archive Highlights