A few other journalist/junkies I saw there all sort of had the same reaction…that it was like watching NASCAR, we were waiting for the wreck…nay, hoping for the wreck. Paladino is No. 1 on the watch list these days. But what we got wasn’t the angry man who’s had enough. Nor was it the speak my mind no matter what’s politically correct guy…Instead we got a Paladino meekly apologizing to the gay community and backtracking on the clearly homophobic rant he unleashed in Brooklyn the previous weekend.
And thus the paradox. The fiery Paladino, the angry guy who says he’s going to kick serious ass up in Albany, is the one that got the attention…that intrigued the anti-government types. But this new, cowed fellow, well, he’s not going to kick anyone’s ass. He can whine and complain about how the media misinterpreted his remarks and how they should allow him to stay “on message” or he’s not going to stay around (see story Page 1) but staying on message is part of the craft of politics, and apparently he’s sorely lacking in these skills. Paradox again, right? Don’t people want someone who’s not a politician?
The last guy who said he was going to kick ass in Albany was Spitzer. And even before his own foibles laid him low, he wasn’t doing much, despite being much better equipped to change things than Paladino.
Candidates who spout angry platitudes are not usually equipped to change cultures. Because despite what people think taking the painful steps toward changing in the political climate requires someone tenacious, with vision, someone able to bring people in, someone able to take it when the attacks come hot and heavy. Like Obama, for instance. There’s a guy who has wrought more change — health care, new regulation on Wall Street, Iraq withdrawal, Afghanistan deadline, honest government accounting for the cost of the wars even though it ballooned the deficit — through more obstacles than Paladino will ever see. The ones with the angry rhetoric are usually the ones who get ground up and spit out, quickly. The anger dissipates and we are left with an inexperienced incompetent. ++