I have defended New York Governor David Paterson in the past, and I stand by my defense of him. Today, however, I cannot defend Paterson.
When President Obama called Paterson to persuade him to pick the highly inexperienced -- yet very privileged -- Caroline Kennedy to replace Senator Hillary Clinton, I defended Paterson's option not to comply with the White House. Ironically, most New York residents did not prefer Kennedy until after Paterson rejected her, and this decision contributed to a plunge in his approval ratings.
Furthermore, when Obama publicly and awkwardly tried to convince Paterson not to run for office, I defended him -- and the vast majority of New York residents agreed. The issue was one of democracy. New York voters, not the White House, should determine Paterson's fate.
Finally, when rumors recently emerged implying that the New York Times was poised to run stories regarding infidelity by Paterson, I defended him against what would have constituted tabloid journalism. The NYT ran two stories on Paterson that did not raise an eyebrow and which convinced many observers that the paper was simply running in the direction of muck. The final NYT "bombshell," however, prevents me from defending Paterson.
It appears that Paterson directed state officials to contact a woman who had filed an abuse claim against David Johnson -- an aide to the governor. Paterson's conduct is reprehensible. Rather than conducting an investigation and suspending Johnson, he apparently sought to "silence" the matter. According to the latest news, he may have even directed the woman to lie about the situation. This behavior by Paterson could, in fact, violate the law. At the least, it is highly unethical, which is why Paterson is now no longer seeking office and why I cannot defend him this time.