Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Long Knives Come Out

David Paterson has had better weeks, we're sure. Yesterday, the press really took off the gloves and hammered him; with Fred Dicker calling him an outright liar: "Gov. Paterson yesterday insisted he had no idea who did the slime job on Caroline Kennedy - although the source of the information is about as close to him during the day as his wife is at night. He's a liar."

And the NY Daily News' Bill Hammond wasn't much kinder: "Gov. Paterson doesn't set out to mislead and confuse.It's just that he has a bad habit of saying whatever he thinks the person in front of him wants to hear at that moment - even if that means completely contradicting what he said two minutes before. Before long, he has said so many things to so many people that he loses track of what the real truth is. It's a personality flaw that finally caught up with him in the Caroline Kennedy fiasco."

But at least he cancelled his Davos junket; which didn't stop the NY Daily News from editorializing: "Gov. Paterson has thought better than to jaunt off to Davos, Switzerland, to confab with the rich and fabulous while New York and his poll numbers are in the pits. Well, duh.
The governor belongs at his desk with a renewed sense that New Yorkers actually expect him to get things done. For example: to solve the budget crises he has been talking about."

And then the NY Post chimes in as well: "Now, New Yorkers aren't naive. They expect pols to lie. But they also expect pols to lie with some finesse. And they certainly don't expect politicians to take a slam-dunk positive-PR opportunity like the appointment of a United States senator and turn it into a circus sideshow. Now New York looks dumber than Illinois, for Pete's sake.
Is that even possible?"

So where does all this leave Paterson? That all depends, perhaps, on how well he navigates the budget crisis. As Hammond points out: "But his own credibility took the worst hit. At this point, people will understandably question every word that comes out of Paterson's mouth. Which is a scary situation, because New York really does face a massive budget crisis. Trust or no trust, Paterson will have to see us through it."

The problem here, however, is that the governor has left himself no margin for error-all of his goodwill has been eroded, and the folks (not to mention the political sharks) are not going to be suspending their disbelief any time soon. He needs to have a picture perfect landing on this fiscal crisis-muddling through will not be enough.