When Eliot Spitzer's people were thinking about making David Paterson his running mate way back in 2005, they heard that Paterson was a "hard partier." Unfortunately, they did not know what that meant:
They were referring to Paterson's extramarital dalliances, past drug use and penchant for late-night clubbing. But Spitzer's people didn't get the message.
"We didn't know what 'hard partying' even meant," a former top Spitzer aide confessed to The Post. "Our idea of fun is to go exercise. The thinking was, 'He enjoys partying -- that's nice!'"
This anecdote comes from the Post, which takes a look back in time to trace Governor Paterson's ascension to the state's most powerful office. Just like Paterson's time in office, it's a story full of slip-ups and carelessness.
Paterson, the Post writes, was nowhere near Spitzer's first choice for lieutenant governor. But after getting turned down by a long list of minority women, whom Spitzer wanted to balance the ticket, Paterson entered the picture and suggested himself for the job.
Paterson, a 21-year veteran of the Legislature, was a known commodity, the Spitzer camp thought. He was a self-styled reformer who could help lay the groundwork for Spitzer's ambitious agenda. He would also score votes with the black and disabled communities.
Spitzer's advisers barely vetted Paterson.
"We didn't dig into his work ethic — does he have a record of seeing an issue through to completion?" an aide admitted. "We thought that he had risen through the ranks. We assumed he had the same background as we did — you work your ass off.
It didn't taken long after the Spitzer-Paterson team won the election for Paterson to show his true colors.
"We were all in early and worked late, and he just wasn't around," said a former Spitzer adviser. "We got the sense that you had two David Patersons — one was sharp and insightful, and then there was the distracted David who missed meetings and wasn't contributing."
Then in early 2008 that aloof, unvetted lieutenant governor became the aloof unvetted Governor and people are all blaming the same person: Eliot Spitzer.