After he was sworn in as Governor of New York on March 17, David A. Paterson spoke to a joint session of the state legislature in Albany. He didn’t read it off a teleprompter. I have a pretty good idea what he had to do to craft that speech in memory and pull it out again. The moment was his, and it makes me very proud.
Bob Herbert tells a story in the NYT about Paterson’s earliest political motivations. You have to believe it informed his speech in Albany:
David, who will be sworn in on Monday, is legally blind. He would scoot up close to the television as a child and watch avidly. He became fascinated with politics at age 6 when his favorite shows were pre-empted for coverage of the political conventions that nominated Jack Kennedy and Richard Nixon.
“I don’t know why,” he said, “but I got this impression that Nixon would win. I knew my dad was voting for Kennedy, so I was for him. But I don’t think I could have told you the difference between a Democrat and a Republican. When Kennedy won, I remember I was real happy and I wanted to watch him speak.
“Then I saw the civil rights movement. I was still only 7 or 8. I watched the situation in Birmingham with the police dogs and the fire hoses. And it was very upsetting because there were kids, you know, my age. And I knew somehow that there was a connection between that movement and elective office.