Mr. Sean goes to Washington

Carl Paladino: crazy like a fox (who’s clinically insane and digs racist bestiality porn)

No Gravatar

Fox Butterfield’s All God’s Children: The Bosket Family and The American Tradition of Violence includes a section when Willie Bosket, who became a murderer at 15, decides to serve as his own attorney. Willie has not been to law school or received much of any kind of formal education and his approach is, to put it mildly, eccentric, such as when he insists on asking a witness endless variations of the question, “As a homosexual, should you really be testifying?” (There was nothing to suggest the witness was a homosexual, nor would it have had any impact on his testimony were he one.) Yet there is a method to the madness: soon the judge and prosecutor give Willie greater leeway than they would a regular attorney. And Willie, in turn, uses this to catch witnesses off-guard, to the point he’s soon representing himself far more effectively than “competent” counsel would. This approach to life seems to have been adopted by Carl Paladino.

Carl Paladino unexpectedly upset Rick Lazio to become the Republican candidate for New York governor. He has more in common with Willie Bosket than he does with the average politician. He’s not afraid to shoot off his mouth, noting his Democratic opponent lacks “cojones” and was probably an adulterer which, coming from a guy with an acknowledged extramarital love child, takes some cojones. (Incidentally, for those seeking an appropriate moment to inform your wife about any illegitimate spawn, Paladino found an interesting one: a few hours after their son died, when he also revealed the rest of their children and many of their friends already knew.) Despite seeming to have strong opinions only on abortion (which he hates) and business (which he loves), he inexplicably remained a Democrat until 2005, going out of his way to funnel loads of cash to Elliot Spitzer. He’s assembled a staff described as “junkyard dogs, not pedigreed poodles” (this means many of them have been indicted).

Oh, and he’s the sort of guy who, if he comes across surprisingly racist humor or bestiality porn, is generous enough to share it with others.

Now let’s meet his opponent. Andrew Cuomo is a man who doesn’t like to do anything unless he’s completely certain about it…and he’s almost never certain. (Where could he have gotten such tendencies? Here’s one possibility.) Also, Andrew doesn’t want to be seen as angry after his disastrous 2002 run for governor, where he started by alienating black voters and then seemed to work his way through the rest of the racial spectrum. After a failed marriage into the Kennedy clan, he’s back as New York’s Attorney General, where by virtue of appearing vaguely competent he has set himself head and shoulders above every other public servant in Albany. That said, he’s still cautious and frightened of his own temper, which means he tends to struggle against those who are:

1. Unpredictable

2. Provocative

Enter Paladino.

This is not what Andrew Cuomo wanted. It reminds me of the stories about how the only thing the heavyweight champ (and former mob enforcer) Sonny Liston was scared of was a crazy person…and then Cassius Clay showed up, behaving like a man with Tourette’s, only louder. Goodbye, title.

Of course, the future Muhammad Ali was not crazy, witness the way he altered his approaches to fights from the controlled burn used on Floyd Patterson to the Foreman rope-a-dope, depending on that opponent’s particular buttons. I’m not certain about Paladino yet. It’s worth looking at what happened to Willie Bosket. While Willie hustled the system many times, he ultimately got involved in a feud with a man from his apartment complex who accused him of robbery and assault. Butterfield speculates this man was lying spectacularly when he testified against Willie. The jury bought it nonetheless and Willie responded to the setback by assaulting numerous court officials and guards to tack on more and more time to his sentence, so when all’s said and done he’s currently eligible for parole in 2062.

What happens when Cuomo really opens fire on Paladino? What happens when he digs up new dirt or, heaven forbid, even exaggerates or distorts details? (So that Carl watching bestiality porn becomes Carl starring in bestiality porn.) Carl can dish it out; can he take it? New York’s future may hang on whether a businessman from Buffalo proves to be more Clay or Bosket. Only one thing’s certain: Paladino would probably be pretty annoyed that this column spends so much time comparing him to black people.

Mr. Sean goes to Washington appears each Thursday.

Print This Post Print This Post

Discussion Area - Leave a Comment