Can the lack of civility or bipartisanship in New York State be blamed on the fact that our Governor is blind?
Publishing tycoon Rupert Murdoch suggests it can.
And although the publisher couched his remark with some kind words about Paterson, it didn’t diminish the impact. Simply put, it’s unfair to Paterson and to the many blind people who look on the governor as a role model.
In a forum, Murdoch was asked: “How do we bring more civil discourse to the discussion and stop appealing to the populists on the right and the left?
Murdoch replied: “Look at New York State -- it’s unbelievable. The Congress there---the state Assembly and the Senate -- are totally incompetent with a governor who’s a very nice, honest man, who can’t---who is blind and cannot read Braille and doesn’t know what is really going on.”
Murdoch owes Paterson an apology. It’s hard to believe he meant what he said.
Paterson may lack some leadership skills but that has nothing to do with his blindness. He is a remarkable man, who can memorize reams of statistical information. He has a quick mind and is hardly the incompetent blunderer that Murdoch makes him out to be.
Does not the Legislature, the 150 Assembly members and 62 senators, bear some responsibility for the chaos in Albany? Did the turncoat Democrats, Monserrate and Espada, have nothing to do with it?
Paterson has been made a scapegoat for the sins of Albany. He was dealt a bad hand, succeeding a governor accused of corruption involving a prostitute, facing a grim economy and legislators only too eager to shift the blame to him.
They’ve piled on. “It’s not my fault. It’s his!” seems to be the universal refrain. Last August, Senator Diane Savino told the Staten Island Advance: “We live in a digital age now, with e-mailing and blackberrying. He is not able to do that because of his visual impairment. Also, he does not read Braille. He has people reading newspapers to him. He listens to tapes of people briefing him.
“All that takes an enormous amount of time. As a result he is not able to respond on the fly [the way former Governors Spitzer or Pataki] could. In some ways I think that has hindered him, in spite of everything he has accomplished in life.”
If you had a dollar for every idiot with a blackberry, how rich would you be?
How sad it is that this kind of criticism has been aimed at Paterson. Criticize him for his policies, not his disability. When I hear the critics of Paterson inveigh against his blindness I think of what the great English poet, Milton, wrote about his own blindness.
“When I consider how my life is spent,
Ere half my days, in this dark world and wide
And that one talent which is death to hide
Lodged with me useless.
Doth God exact day labor, light denied?”
And later the poet answers his question:
Who best bears his mild yoke, they serve
him best…..They also serve who only stand and wait.”
David Paterson, who has endured his affliction since he was born, has great gifts. He has developed memorization to a point that few can equal. He has a quick wit and a fine mind. He is serving his maker as well as some of his critics.
Maybe he is not suited to be governor. But to heap abuse on him because of his blindness is not fair play -- especially in the dysfunctional environment of Albany!
Paterson should not be the fall guy for the sins of others.