Constantine: Paterson Lacks Vision, Literally

In his new book, Journal of the Plague Year, about the quick demise of the Spitzer administration, Eliot Spitzer’s former friend and adviser Lloyd Constantine writes that he and David Paterson were friendly as the then-lieutenant governor took the reins in March of 2008.

“We liked each other,” writes Mr. Constantine, who hosted several dinners in Mr. Paterson’s honor.

When I spoke to him by phone on Tuesday, Mr. Constantine offered a candid assessment of why Mr. Paterson’s turn as governor has not worked out particularly well.

“David basically is sort of clueless about what it is to be an executive,” said Mr. Constantine, who added that Mr. Paterson was a good legislator who never wanted to be governor.

“He doesn’t have the skill set for this job. Look, I’m going to say something that everybody’s afraid to say, but I’ll say it, O.K.? David is a really smart guy and he has developed powers–far beyond anything you and I have–in overcoming his blindness.

“But the fact of the matter is, the guy doesn’t read. And he doesn’t read Braille. So he’s dependent on people giving him information.”

Mr. Constantine said that Mr. Spitzer knew every line-item in the budget, and all of its alternatives.

“David can’t even begin to do that. It’s all about some little memo that has been written for him, which is then read to him,” he said. “I mean, it’s not the right job for him. I would love to be the downhill champion in the Winter Olympics, but I just can’t do it. And he can’t do this job.”

Mr. Constantine said the prospect of a Paterson administration is one of the primary reasons he encouraged Mr. Spitzer not to resign, and encouraged him to weather the damaging allegations for the good of the state.

“[David] just doesn’t have it. If you ask me, ‘Could you be governor, Lloyd?’ ‘No, I don’t have it.’ It doesn’t make me a bad person. It doesn’t make me a dumb person. It just means: No.”

A spokesperson for Mr. Paterson declined to comment.

Constantine: Paterson Lacks Vision, Literally