The self-proclaimed spokesman for outraged voters has committed yet another outrage, and it seems fair to ask when, or if, Republican Party leaders in Washington will ostracize Carl Paladino and those who support his divisive agenda.
Mr. Paladino’s recent outburst against gay people won him lots of press attention–he made all the morning talk shows on Columbus Day, no small feat for a gubernatorial candidate in a busy election year–but his opponent, Andrew Cuomo, surely didn’t mind. Mr. Paladino seems intent on making a fool of himself at every opportunity. This year’s gubernatorial campaign in New York is notable because it is one of those rare instances when one candidate, Mr. Cuomo, hopes that his opponent will get maximum coverage in the media. It seems as though every one of Mr. Paladino’s photo opportunities and press availabilities creates new converts to the Cuomo campaign.
Mr. Paladino is, of course, entitled to his opinions. But those opinions clearly disqualify him from the very position he hopes to attain. Being the chief executive of New York State demands an open mind and a degree of tolerance absent in his backward worldview.
Mr. Paladino asserted that gays are trying to “brainwash” children, and he condemned Mr. Cuomo for bringing his teenage daughters to the city’s gay pride parade. (Mr. Cuomo wisely responded by saying that he was not about to take advice about parenthood from his opponent.) Mr. Paladino made his remarks in the wake of a brutal anti-gay hate crime in the Bronx and the suicide of a gay Rutgers University student, leading New Yorkers to wonder if he understands the consequences of bigotry and intolerance.
Some voters, concerned about the state’s political dysfunction and its dire finances, might view this dispute as a distraction from the important issues facing New York’s next governor. But that simply isn’t true. Politics is about more than tax policy and legislative achievements. Politics is about leadership, and leadership in a state like New York requires tolerance and respect. New York’s diversity remains one of its greatest strengths, even more so in troubled times. Elected leaders understand that, and act accordingly.
Returning New York to fiscal and political health will require respect for difference, as well as courage and collegiality. Mr. Paladino’s latest remarks demonstrate that he simply doesn’t get it, and never will.