Paterson’s Personal Cutback

dap qa Patersons Personal CutbackALBANY—David Paterson, flanked by health and education officials, spoke for over an hour at a town hall about H1N1 and the coming school year before James T. Madore (of Newsday) asked the question on everyone's mind: what happened to Paterson's beard?

"More cutbacks," Paterson quipped, having just parried my question about what a forthcoming deficit reduction package will contain. (On more fee increases: "I'd like to avoid them.)

The governor's mustache remains intact, but his chin was visible for the first time in recent memory. By my eye, Paterson lets his whiskers bloom and trims about weekly. He was looking shaggy during an interview at the State Fair, so the trim appears to have happened sometime over the weekend.

 "I tried to do it about 10 years ago, and it didn't seem to work out so I've got a new system," Paterson continued. Thoughts swirled: does this involve some Delilah-esque power play? The summer heat? The coming fall cool?

Was this inspired by Abraham Lincoln, Madore asked, who grew out his beard after his successful presidential bid at the behest of an 11-year-old girl?

All unclear.

Madore clarified: so no 11-year-old girl asked you to shave off your beard?

"Actually, my son did," Paterson replied.