Being a true Tea Party partisan means never having to say you’re sorry, and yesterday Carl Paladino, the Buffalo real estate titan who would be governor, lived up to the code.
At a press conference in the Finger Lakes, Paladino refused to disown a torrent of e-mails that a western New York website said he had forwarded to a long list of plucky Paladino pals. Not the one showing President and Mrs. Obama dressed in pimp and hooker attire, or the one of a nude woman doing something underneath a horse, or the one of black men fleeing an airplane captioned, “Holy Shit, Run N——s, Run.”
“I confess to being a human and imperfect, as are all of God’s children,” he said.
Paladino, 63, offered a chivalrous bow (“To any of the ladies I’ve offended, I apologize”), but insisted that his propensity for mass-mailing putrid Internet postings only confirms that basic humanity.
“I am not a racist,” he insisted. Proof of this is that his company, Endicott Development, employs “people of every ethnicity, color, and sexual preference.”
He made clear that the days when being a right-wing raver also meant you had to be some kind of neutered puritan are thankfully over. “I say this to all of the men out there who have never opened a graphic image: ‘Don’t vote for me.’ For those who have, I welcome your vote.”
And why in the world would we want to elect someone who didn’t see the humor in a harmless e-mail showing dancing African tribesmen headed, “Obama inauguration rehearsal”?
“Sending out some e-mails that I re-sent from friends who send them to me is not a crime or infraction in my book,” he said.
Such nit-picking criticism is really aimed at preventing the rise of true leaders. “You can’t have offended anybody, you can’t have said anything that might’ve been off-color,” he said. “Is that the kind of person we want? An absolute purist?”
Turning crisis into opportunity, Paladino, threw some fine fuel on the fires that burn within every tea bagger, asserting that the e-mails had somehow been “hacked from my computer,” as opposed to broadcast by himself to lists of 30 or more, according to the originals posted by WNYmedia.net. Moreover, the messages themselves were “put out by a Democratic elitist who has another agenda.” And what exactly might that be? It’s obvious, isn’t it? “To smear Paladino,” he said.
By the way, in case no one has noticed, “Paladino,” is Italian for paladin — those courageous loners who roam far, far from home, who have guns and will travel, knights without armor in savage lands, etc., etc.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on April 13, 2010