If I lived in New York, I’d be giving serious consideration to voting for the Republican candidate in the next gubernatorial race. Not so much because the Republican’s bound to be a great candidate, but because there’s pretty strong evidence that New York’s Democratic governors don’t so much give a damn about women.
First, we had former Gov. Eliot Spitzer, a rising star in the Democratic Party nationally who ended up having to resign when it turned out he was soliciting prostitutes the way some people order pizza. That might have been forgivable, had 1) Prostitution been legal, 2) Spitzer not made his mark as a prosecutor by going after prostitution, or 3) Spitzer not been caught moving enough money around to spend on prostitutes that it drew the attention of bank regulators.
Spitzer ultimately wasn’t prosecuted, but he was forced from office ignominiously, and in his place New Yorkers got Gov. David Paterson, who immediately announced that he had had affairs in his lifetime. Okay, well, that’s not good. But points for honesty. And surely, surely, Paterson would keep himself on the straight-and-narrow after seeing what happened to his predecessor.
Or, you know, he might decide instead to obstruct justice in a domestic violence case:
Gov. David A. Paterson personally directed two state employees to contact the woman who had accused his close aide of assaulting her, according to two people with direct knowledge of the governor’s actions.
Mr. Paterson instructed his press secretary, Marissa Shorenstein, to ask the woman to publicly describe the episode as nonviolent, according to a third person, who was briefed on the matter. That description would contradict the woman’s accounts to the police and in court.
Mr. Paterson also enlisted another state employee, Deneane Brown, a friend of both the governor and the accuser, to make contact with the woman before she was due in court to finalize an order of protection against the aide, David W. Johnson, the two people with direct knowledge said. Ms. Brown, an employee of the Division of Housing and Community Renewal, reached out to the woman on more than one occasion over a period of several days and arranged a phone call between the governor and the woman, Mr. Johnson’s companion.
After the calls from Ms. Brown and the conversation with the governor, the woman failed to appear for the court hearing on Feb. 8, and the case was dropped.
It was probably a minor issue, though. MRAs are always telling me that you can get an order of protection for any reason at all. I’m sure she was just mad that the stunning floral bouquet that her charming boyfriend gave her had only seventeen roses in it. I mean, surely, she didn’t have a good reason to get this order, right?
Mr. Johnson’s girlfriend had accused him of choking her, smashing her into a mirrored dresser and preventing her from calling for help during a Halloween altercation in the Bronx apartment they shared.
Oh. Um…well. That’s…a pretty damn good reason, actually.
So to recap: a woman is assaulted, goes to the police, and begins the work of getting an order of protection. The Governor of New York — the Governor of New York — uses his aides to put pressure on her to drop the case, because the assailant is on his staff.
Frankly, as someone who cares about women’s rights, I’d rather have the guy who just liked sex with prostitutes.
But of course, Paterson is blameless in this. I mean, he didn’t know that the attack was as severe as it was.
Mr. Paterson has stated that he was unaware of the details of the case until The Times reported them, and has said he did nothing improper.
See? He had no way of knowing that the case involved someone slamming someone’s face into a dresser. And no way of finding out. Which is why he immediately got mixed up in the case, because…uh…the woman was probably lying.
Okay, actually, that’s not a very good excuse.
Paterson has already announced he won’t stand for election in the fall. If today’s allegations are true, then that doesn’t go far enough. Like his predecessor, Paterson should resign, before the day is out. Paterson injected himself into a criminal case on the side of an assailant. At best, he did so recklessly, assuming that the — again — criminal case was not so serious as it really was. At worst, he did so with malice, seeking to get the exact result he did — a woman who, faced with pressure from the office of the governor, gave up on her criminal case because she saw more pain going forward with it than any relief justice could give her.
Either way, Paterson has demonstrated that he is unfit to serve as Governor of New York. Maybe Lt. Gov. Richard Ravitch can do better than the two moral lightweights to precede him this term. He certainly can’t do much worse.