Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Gov. Paterson's own parody skit upsets some disability advocates

From WCBS-TV. You can see the video here.

NEW YORK ― Funny or foul? Gov. David Paterson is taking heat for a shocking comedy skit over the weekend, a skit captured on video, CBS station WCBS-TV reports.

The video, shot at a charity dinner by Liz Benjamin of the New York Daily News, shows New York's chief executive literally flipping out. A gymnastics display ended the animated parody of a political ad.

The gathering was for the Legislative Correspondents Association (LCA) and the aim of the annual gathering is to get some laughs.

Reporters make fun of politicians and politicians do the same to reporters. Well, the governor took aim at himself and a union ad that attacked him when the budget was first being discussed. What followed had some laughing and other shaking their heads in disgust.

"Governor, you gotta listen to the LCA, you gotta make yourself available 24 hours a day," Paterson quipped during his five-minute skit.

Wearing sunglasses and sitting in a wheelchair (pictured), the legally-blind governor slammed a union ad that attacked him for proposed health care cuts by playing one of the ad's most memorable people.

The union isn't talking about the woe-is-me whining that was the theme during the skit before Albany lawmakers and media members where Paterson took aim at a host of targets.

"Gov. Paterson, what have you done to me? These are difficult economic times. Gov. Paterson, I can't pay my bills. I can't put food on my table. I may lose my home and the reason, Gov. Paterson, is because of you. It's because you haven't given the state transparency," he joked.

And the assault continued as Paterson attacked the media, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, and Senate Leader Malcolm Smith.

But advocates for the disabled like Nancy Starnes of the National Organization of Disability aren't laughing.

"Elected officials are held to a higher standard and perhaps it's a better idea for Gov. Paterson to leave that kind of humor to the professionals," she said.

Lawrence Carter, Executive Director of the Disabilities Network of New York, had no problem with it after coming to WCBS-TV studios to watch the clip.

"I think that that's a positive because what that does is it gives people more of an understanding that disability is part of the spectrum of life. It's not anything to be afraid of," he said.

While the governor was enjoying his moment in the spotlight, things were very different when he was the target of parody on "Saturday Night Live" earlier this year. The governor was livid, but April 20 neither he nor his office had any comment on the theatrical stunt that ended with an evangelical flourish.

"If you listen to the LCA, governor, you will get over every problem you've ever had. You'll stand again, governor, you'll see again, governor, and you won't be afraid anymore, governor," he shouted. And with that, Paterson did a half-cartwheel, then a somersault, followed by a twist, and then he walked off the stage.

The publicity about the skit comes on a day when new poll numbers show Paterson needing support.

A Siena poll shows just 18 percent of New Yorkers rate the job he's doing as "excellent" while 81 percent gave him a "fair" or "poor" rating. Twelve percent say they'll vote for him in 2010 while 71 percent say they prefer somebody else.