Off the cuff

In all of the media coverage about incoming Gov. David Paterson, this observation from a Times-Union profile caught my eye:

According to lawmakers, lobbyists and others who have worked with him, Paterson can’t read small print or long passages. Perhaps to compensate, he has developed a prodigious memory. People who first meet him sometimes marvel at his ability to mentally retrieve a phone number or recite details of legislation. He can memorize speeches and has been known to cite passages from complex Russian novels like Dostoevsky’s “Crime and Punishment” to drive home a political point.

Paterson has degrees from Columbia University and Hofstra Law School, and he worked for the Queens district attorney’s office before being elected to the Senate in 1985. But his lack of sight prevented him from passing the bar exam, and he’s spoken of the need to improve test accommodations for the blind. Now he’ll have another test to grapple with, although it’s more about style than substance: the annual State of the State Message the governor traditionally gives in January, which historically has run as much as an hour or more.

If anything, at least we’ll get a governor who probably won’t be relying on speechwriters.

4 thoughts on “Off the cuff

  1. Robinia

    You can tell he writes his own material, ‘cuz none of the speech-writerly types up in Albany are anything close to as funny as Paterson.

    His memory is astonishing, and the complete geeky-joy with which he relishes unearthing a relevant factoid from the super-filing-cabinet in his brain is charming and lightens the mood.

  2. Ellen Post author

    This NYT story on Paterson’s past record is worth reading:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/16/nyregion/16paterson.html

    This sort of ethical sloppiness probably is rife in Albany; the saving grace is that at least one legislator (Paterson) now has to be “shocked straight.”

    Must be weird for someone in such a legislatively powerless position to suddenly now be the governor… but kinda interesting, too. What a strange accident of history this could be.

    As for quotes, he quoted the Beverly Hillbillies in a campaign speech about peak oil:

    http://www.oilism.com/oil/2008/03/15/david-paterson-first-openly-peak-oil-aware-governor/

  3. Patrick

    Once again the Governor (it’s official now) impressed me with his humor and as mentioned his memory. I just caught the swearing in ceremony and he must have introduced close to a couple of dozen people that were in attendance. With several of the introductions he used his humor which I truly love and had me laughing.

    I think the ball is on Bruno’s side of the court now and Bruno has to prove that he can work with people from another party. Lets hope it happens for New Yorks sake.

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