The narrative the mainstream media is pushing right now is that Caroline Kennedy has boxed in the governor of New York with her announcement that she wants to be considered for the New York Senate seat being vacated by Hillary Clinton. I don’t know if we fully understand as a country what New York has in having David Paterson as its governor. The media seems to have little regard for this blind, brown-skinned governor in its rush to anoint Ms. Kennedy before he announces his selection.
As the latest brouhaha over last weekend’s Saturday Night Live skit that poked fun at Paterson’s blindness shows, we don’t really know how far we can go with someone who has lost their sight. Or how much we should expect them to be capable of accomplishing. Instead, the airwaves are filled with a storyline that suggests the Senate seat is Kennedy's to take, rather than Paterson's to give.
I have watched the movie Ray about a hundred times. Even though Jamie Foxx’s physical features only broadly resemble those of the real Ray Charles, Foxx’s incomparable ability to imitate the legendary R & B singer’s sound, mannerisms and style hold me in a trance even now, after I have practically memorized the film’s every nuance.
Charles turned a handicap into an asset, using his disability as a tool to disarm his business partners, neutralize hostile band members, and charm the ladies – a whole lot of ladies - right out of their underwear.
I have to confess – when I saw newly sworn in David Paterson at his first real press conference, confessing to a series of sexual affairs with women in and out of government while his attractive wife stood beside him, I couldn’t help but think about the scene in Ray where the camera focused on the routine Ray Charles used to determine whether or not a prospective date was pretty.
I could hear the actor Bokeem Woodbine doing the voiceover of that scene in his role as saxophonist “Fathead” Newman loud and clear when I watched Paterson speak into the microphone: "Look at Ray. You see that? He feels her wrist 'cause he figures that's the way to tell if she's good-looking or not."
In the many, many times I watched this movie, I saw over and over again how an intelligent man turned his physical limitation into an advantage, allowing him to prey on unsuspecting foes and sympathetic adversaries when need be with a surprising level of ruthlessness, not only in his personal relationships, but in his business dealings.
Paterson is quick witted and wily, the son of a renowned politician, his tutelage straight from old school Harlem's black political elite, much the way Ray Charles learned the basics of music from an old-time stride style piano player. I would not underestimate Paterson's abilities for one minute.
So Caroline Kennedy needs to watch out – because if Paterson ever says “you knew the rules when you got into this”, she probably won’t be getting the news she wants to hear.