Let’s do this. Let’s get behind George E. Pataki.
OK, so you weren’t wowed by him when he was governor. Maybe you weren’t a fan at all. But he’s a New Yorker and he’s in the presidential race and we pull for native sons. We do.
So what do you say when someone who lives out of state asks you about him? What do you honestly, legitimately say?
You say he wasn’t a bad governor. You say he did some things. He preserved a lot of open space in New York. He had a good record on the environment. He tried to do something about the state’s high tax reputation. You say he was a steady hand during 9-11.
You say the man had political skills. He got himself elected three times in an overwhelmingly Democratic state with a unique blend of conservative and liberal positions and some adroit coalition building.
You say that while he wasn’t a great communicator, he could be effective.
You say that he was and is a decent man, untouched by scandal. It was, though, a different time when he served. When he first took office 20 years ago, there was a sense that the Governor was entitled to arrange a half a million dollar a year job for his wife through a major campaign contributor. Think what Preet would say about that arrangement.
There were other circumstances that wouldn’t pass muster today. Pataki’s old law firm benefitted enormously when he took office. But again, it was a different time, and Pataki, himself, always had a kind of dignity.
In fact, looking back at his time in office and reflecting on him personally, something really stands out. Alone among recent governors of New York, he was a guy who actually seemed comfortable in his own skin.
Yes, he could be a little awkward at times. But he was remarkably steady and sane. There really wasn’t any baggage. No “complicated” relationship with his father. No strained marital situation. No bizarre staff dynamic. (Notwithstanding Zenia.) No sustained bad form by him or his people.
You can say all of that about George Pataki and one more thing: Having Pataki in the race is a good thing for the country because he’ll help moderate the GOP field. If he does nothing other than exude a quality of intelligence and reasonableness it could help keep this field of candidates from veering off into right-wing nuttiness. And that would be a very good thing.
So Go George.