Friday, March 14, 2008

stercus accidit

Additions and edits on Sunday 16 March 2008

A son of Harlem takes over in New York
by Charlie Leck

I was pretty impressed with David Paterson’s remarks to the press yesterday. He’s got a remarkable wittiness about him and he uses it like a rapier. One reporter had the chutzpah to ask Paterson if he had ever patronized a prostitute. With a little, twisted grin on his face he answered: “Only the lobbyists!”

It appears to me that State of New York is in good hands with this son of Harlem. Now 53 years old, Paterson was born into a powerful and important political family in New York City. His father, Basil Paterson, was the first African American Deputy Mayor of New York City and also served as the Secretary of State in New York.

As the Lieutenant Governor, Paterson had a light schedule and, therefore, also taught at Columbia University’s School for International and Public Affairs. He lives in Harlem with his wife, Michelle Paige Paterson. If you want more background on Paterson, go to this Wikipedia site for a very complete biography.

For those who want a more in-depth look at David Paterson, go take a look at the John Nichols article in The Nation.

A long story in the Sunday NY Times of 16 March examines Patterson legislative record over his career and finds a few controversies.

You can also look at a series of NY Times video interviews with people who know the new Governor well.

My purpose here is not to provide a biography, but to write about the phenomenon of stercus accidit. A young blogger I am following these days, much in need of the aging and settling that happens in a fine wine by controlling that with which it comes into contact during that process, was pretty rough on Elliot Spitzer in an essay the other day. He called the Governor ‘despicable.’ No, there are a lot of better adjectives that have to do with those weaknesses of human beings that are so well documented in the scriptural depiction of the fall from grace. Yet, the scriptural promise is also one of repentance and new life. How often we are reminded of this as we inch closer to the extraordinary celebration of Easter.

“The quality of mercy is not strain'd,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath.
It is twice blest:
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes."
The Merchant Of Venice Act 4, scene 1, 180–187
Spitzer did the right thing in stepping down. Now he will need to repair his life and try to restore his place in his family. That’s all personal stuff and one can only hope he succeeds, because he is a good man. The legal consequences of his activities will begin to unfold soon and he will have to face up to these consequences of his actions.

Out of it all, some extraordinarily good things may come. One of those will be the emergence of David Paterson. When he takes his oath of office on Monday, I expect he will become the first blind Governor in the history of the United States. It will not serve as a handicap. He long ago learned how to overcome this missing element in his chemistry. He has excelled in nearly everything he has done. Some may point to a New York bar examination that he has not been able to pass, but this is easily explained away by pointing to the exam’s bias against those who cannot see. This is something the new Governor will aim to correct. And, sightless folks in New York State may now correctly assume they will see movement in legislation they have been interested in for a long, long time. Paterson is a member of the American Foundation for the Blind.

I am going to personally keep my eyes on the State of New York for the next couple of years. I think we are going to see a man, who might never have gotten the opportunity, prove he is a strong, reasonable and capable leader.

Paterson will be a super-delegate at the Democratic National Convention and he has endorsed Senator Clinton. He now moves from a bit player to one of the leading actors in the great American political melodrama.

Oh yes, one more thing! In 1999, David Paterson ran in and completed the New York City marathon. Good practice for what he’s into now.


1 comment:

  1. His actions are despicable not the human being, I dont know him personally. A blind man running a marathon is pretty impressive. Even if he is a liberal ;).