The problem with Carl Paladino's anger
As a one-time resident of Buffalo, N.Y., I am accustomed to making virtues out of the city's liabilities. Snow, for instance, is testament to our resilience. The Buffalo Bills are evidence of our heart and loyalty. But, try as I can, Carl Paladino is proving to be a real test.
The Buffalo millionaire developer's come-out-of-nowhere win in the New York GOP primary for governor is roiling the state and much of the political world. New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, the Democrat once thought to be a shoo-in, now seems to be facing a surprisingly strong showing from a candidate who is, to put it mildly, unconventional. How else to describe a politician who fathered a child with a former mistress, told his children but then kept it secret from his wife? Or who has been known to e-mail racist, sexist and pornographic material? Or who promises a nasty race and then delivers with unproven charges that his opponent cheated on his wife? And, if that is not enough, how about threatening to take out a reporter -- all while being videotaped?
As a journalist, I'm all for colorful political figures, and, in truth, there are some endearing aspects to Paladino. The New York Times detailed the charming story of how he gave an extra Super Bowl ticket to a nine-year-old boy he saw on a New Orleans street. Likewise, the Times chronicled his unpretentious restaurant habits and the generosity of his 40 percent tips. Clearly, those who are turned off by slick politicians find him refreshingly authentic. And those who are struggling in these hard economic times are drawn to his "I'm-as-mad-as-hell-and-I'm-not-going-to-take-it-anymore" candidacy. "Seriously, people are angry," The New York Post quoted him saying, "I pick it up and convey the message."
And, therein lies my problem with Paladino. He -- unlike Buffalo's signature snow and hapless football team -- brings out our worst.
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