Late last night Carl Paladino came on the air for his final hurrah and to admit defeat by Andrew Cuomo. He choked back tears, snarled at the media, and gave us one final reminder that — no matter how much great theater he brought to this race — we should count our blessings that we live in a state where his kind of toxic tea leaves get swept into the November trash. That happened when he produced a baseball bat — his long-declared weapon of choice for cleaning up Albany. He stood there with the bat above his shoulder and a grimace on his face, looking like he’d enjoy the hell out of a big swing at someone’s head, and just about anyone — from Shelly Silver to the Times reporter who asked about his pit bull’s license — would suffice.
He reminded probably not a few watchers of the last politician to choose a big nasty club as a career-advancing tool: A racist named Lester Maddox who managed to get himself elected governor down in Georgia using the axe handle he’d shaken at would-be black customers to his fried chicken joint as his own symbol for cleaning up the state. If you don’t know the story, listen to Randy Newman tell it. And think about the bullet we just dodged named Carl Paladino:
“Last night I saw Lester Maddox on a TV show
With some smart-ass New York Jew
And the Jew laughed at Lester Maddox
And the audience laughed at Lester Maddox too
Well, he may be a fool but he’s our fool…
We’re rednecks, We’re rednecks.
We don’t know our ass from a hole in the ground.”
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on November 3, 2010