pataki running

Great news. I know you’ve all been waiting for this.

George Pataki, a three-term governor of New York, on Thursday joined a crowded field of Republican presidential candidates where he has little name recognition and will have to prove his conservative credentials.

Pataki invoked Republican Presidents Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, and Ronald Reagan in his announcement speech in Exeter, N.H. and said he was running to “preserve and protect” the freedoms of working Americans.

Noting his own rise from a modest background, he added: “It is that promise of opportunity … that I want to restore for every child in America today.”

One wonders what Pataki thinks he brings to the race. His only constituency are those pining not only for the fjords but for an establishment squish running to the left of Chris Christie and Jeb Bush. Personally, I see little to like about the man.

“Defeating Islamic terror, shrinking government and growing the economy. These are the issues that matter most. Instead, we’re debating social issues like abortion and gay rights. They’re a distraction and will only help elect Hillary. After eight years of Obama-style socialism, we need to shrink government – not let big government tells us how to live our lives,” Mr. Pataki says in a new campaign video.

While he is running on a 2001-esque theme of “tough on terrorism,” we need to remember that this is the guy who vetoed a specialty New York license plate commemorating 9/11 because the same bill would have established a “Choose Life” license plate and signed a bill requiring all New York hospitals, including religious ones, to issue the “morning after” pill.

There is no evidence that Pataki did anything to shrink government while governor of New York and there is no reason to think that his current conversion to a fiscal conservative is anything but cynical opportunism.

A couple of years ago I was traveling in Upstate New York and spent the night in the beautifully restored art deco Hotel Utica. On the door to Room 506 I found this plaque.

pataki utica

I immediately assumed it was a warning sign, like that a bonobo might have in a zoo or the one on Hannibal Lecter’s cell, to not disturb what was locked behind the door. My first thought was that ‘the wheels of justice turn slowly, but grind exceedingly fine.’ That it was only fitting after the damage George Pataki wrought on the New York Republican party that he be confined for the remainder of his life in a hotel room in Utica. Alas that was not the case. He wasn’t dead, he was only sleeping.