When incoming governor David Paterson first told the Daily News that he had an extramarital affair (or two, or three), no one seemed to get very upset. Sure, the papers tried to keep us riled up: “DAVID BARES DIRTY HAREM,” screamed the Post. “The full disclosure to the Daily News wasn’t actually a full disclosure,” snipped Choire Sicha in today’s Observer, referring to the reveal that there was more than one tryst during Paterson’s period of infidelity (which Paterson himself owned up to in a subsequent news conference).
But no editorials have been written calling for Paterson’s resignation, and even Joe Bruno “brushed off suggestions that the affair threatened to interfere with the state’s business.”
So why is Paterson getting a pass where Spitzer didn’t? Here are six reasons.
1. It’s in the past. Some of Paterson’s affairs date back to the nineties (though some are significantly more recent). This isn’t an ongoing state of marital crisis that might distract him from his executive duties.
2. He knew their names. While there’s something potentially dicey about sleeping with someone connected to your office, as was the case with Lila Kirton, who worked for Spitzer, it’s a hell of a lot better than some prostie named “Kristen.”
3. Spitzer and McGreevey make Paterson look wholesome. Trysts in Best Westerns or random motor lodges may seem seedy, but it’s downright bland compared to a threesome with a limo driver after hot-wings night at T.G.I.Friday’s.
4. He got ahead of the story. Unlike some New York politicians, Paterson was upfront and honest about what had happened, and unlike with some other New York politicians, it so far doesn’t look like he spent any taxpayer money on it. His problem, his wallet. We can live with that.
5. The scorecard is even. Michelle had affairs, too. So it’s a lot harder to moralize about her choices and what they mean for the state of women’s rights.
6. He’s kind of adorable. After his swearing-in, Paterson ran through Albany like a Saint Patrick’s Day MC, and his bar-mitzvah stage presence is cuddly. How can we hold anything against this guy?