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No laughing matter

The NYT has a story today featuring Gov. Paterson’s renowned sense of humor and the political uses thereof. I’d have to say that my favorite Paterson quip (not recounted in this particular story) was the one where he asked Harlem’s newly-opened DMV office to give him a driver’s license, promising he would have all the local drug dealers cleared off the streets in no time.

The one compliment I would give to Paterson without reservation is that he is fundamentally serious about being governor of a large and ailing state. I don’t know if he has sufficient political will to get things done, or how sincere he is about some of his public statements, or even how dedicated he is to some progressive issues. But he appears healthily worried about the job, something that nobody in Albany ever is. By the time a politician rises that high, they are usually thinking (often unrealistically) about going to Washington. Maybe Paterson’s unusual ascent to the office makes him toss in his political bed at night, or maybe he’s just a natural worrywart who uses humor to defuse tension. But in hindsight, that’s what always pissed me off about Pataki. The man was governor for three terms and never broke a sweat.