New York in Denver

It was a hoot to watch Shelly and the rest of Our Gang in the spotlight as Hillary Clinton called for an acclamation for Barack Obama’s nomination on Wednesday afternoon. I forgot what a bloviating display of blowhardism the roll call of states is at any political convention. The ritualistic bragging about each state and political organization must provide a freakish fascination to the rest of the world. (It’s said that the roll call had already been taken behind closed doors that morning, however, and the televised version was rigidly choreographed.)

Two sides of one black Democrat’s and one New Yorker’s feelings about the occasion — Gov. Paterson’s — are on display in this blog entry from the New York Times.

“I watched my father run for lieutenant governor in 1970,” Mr. Paterson said in a speech on Thursday morning to New York Democrats. “They told him he was an asset on that ticket. When it got to the general election, they never even mentioned his name in the paid television campaign ads. What do you think that did to the people who supported him?”

Paterson’s going to be an interesting guy to watch in the Obama era (if indeed we get one). He’s a legislator who’s been thrust without fanfare into a hugely difficult and very high-profile governing job he probably wouldn’t have sought himself, in an age where another black legislator may be rising into the “ultimate” governorship. Paterson is spontaneous (he has to be – he can’t read a teleprompter), and also not averse to complaining about subtle and all too real racism. Sometimes nobody really notices him, and I think he likes it that way — but also doesn’t like it.

Personalities aside, Paterson’s main cry right now is a demand for the federal government to help New York more. I fear that’s not likely to happen with any new president — not even a President Obama — and the cries may even intensify as the economy appears sure to slip further.

We’re living in a time when African Americans have more political power (and more complex loyalties) than ever before. Barack Obama’s nomination is historic indeed, but it’s just a new chapter opening in America’s political history — not the end of history. What will New York’s role be in it?