Tuesday, August 26, 2008

NY Gov. Paterson: Obama can change country for Americans with disabilities

From Newsday August 27:

Referring to his struggle to overcome near-blindness, Gov. David A. Paterson yesterday told the Democratic National Convention that only presumptive presidential nominee Barack Obama could usher in a new era of economic opportunity for the disabled and all citizens.

Paterson, who made history four years ago as the first blind person to address such a gathering of Democrats, recounted his early years in Brooklyn and Hempstead, and being discriminated against.

But Paterson said his success as a state senator over 21 years and as governor for five months was part of the larger American Dream nurtured by previous presidents. He then blamed the Bush administration for rising unemployment among the disabled, including nearly 90 percent of the deaf and 71 percent of the blind.

"Let's give [Republicans] four more months and then elect Barack Obama," Paterson said to cheers from the New York delegation and others inside Denver's Pepsi Center. "Barack Obama will restore prosperity and will make the changes we need to write a new chapter in the story of the promise of America."

The governor, who lost his vision because of an infection while an infant, said Obama would work with congressional leaders to overturn U.S. Supreme Court rulings that have undermined the 1990 Americans With Disabilities Act.

The five-minute speech was the most militant and partisan that Paterson has made from a national stage since becoming governor on March 17 when Eliot Spitzer resigned. There also were echoes of Paterson's praise of Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry at the 2004 convention in Boston.

On both occasions, Paterson showed flashes of his trademark humor. He feigned "shock" yesterday when the sparse crowd, responding to his open question, shouted "no" that Republican presumptive presidential nominee John McCain wasn't capable of bolstering the economy.

Paterson then cut into McCain, noting he had touted the Bush administration's economic policies. "If he's the answer to the question, the question must be