Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Eliot Spitzer (again)


Hidden behind the Spitzer story is this little gem:

The man poised to succeed Gov. Eliot Spitzer would not only become the first black governor of New York. He would also be the state's first legally blind governor and its first disabled governor since Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Though his sight is limited, Lt. Gov. David Paterson walks the halls of the Capitol unaided. He recognizes people at conversational distance and can memorize whole speeches. He has played basketball, run a marathon, and survived 22 years in the backbiting culture of the state Capitol with a reputation as a man more apt to reach for an olive branch than a baseball bat.

After earning degrees from Columbia University and Hofstra Law School, he worked for the Queens district attorney's office and was elected to the state Senate in 1985 at the age of 31. He built a reputation for working hard in a place where not everyone does.

Though he can read for brief periods, Paterson usually has aides read to him. He also has developed the ability to remember entire speeches and policy arcana. State Sen. Neil Breslin recalled that he told Paterson his cell phone number once and he memorized it.

"He has one of the finest memories of anyone I've known," Breslin said.

In sharp contrast to Spitzer, who can sound like a legal brief, Paterson is known for dry wit and speaking off the cuff. Sharpton recalled Paterson's arrest with his father at a New York City protest over the 1999 police killing of Amadou Diallo, an unarmed African immigrant. Paterson quipped: "I'm going to tell the judge that I didn't see where I was going."

Obama, Rice, Powell, (hopefully) this guy, even people like Harold Ford and Artur Davis: it's the best time in history to be black in this country. A ways to go, but it's hard to look at (most of) these people (most of the time) and not be optimistic. Although this Paterson would be a remarkable person no matter what his color...