Why you should care
Because it’s like he’s always stuck in second gear.
Remember how The Hunger Games would honor its fallen tributes? In this occasional series, OZY predicts which presidential candidates will be the next to fall — whether they know it or not.
You’re a rare bird, Gov. Pataki. And the American people have been known to go for those. But in a world where the current president is a Hawaiian-born son of a Kenyan with the middle name Hussein, being the centrist grandson of a Hungarian just ain’t what it used to be.
Nor is being a former three-term governor of New York, especially when you’ve been out of office since 2006. In hindsight, perhaps you should have struck while the iron was hotter in 2008, when 9/11 burned more deeply in the public imagination. But that pesky Giuliani guy was always in your camera shot, sucking up the oxygen and crowding out the more deserving ethnic New Yorker among pro-choice, centrist Republicans. As the Rembrandts sing in the theme to Friends, which debuted that glorious autumn of 1994 when you were first elected: “No one told you life was gonna be this way.”
We might add: Your campaign’s a joke, it’s nearly broke, your public life’s DOA. And it certainly hasn’t been your day, your week, your month — or even your decade — for quite some time. “People don’t remember who I am,” you told Newsmax earlier this year, “but we can remind them of that.” Remind away, but you can’t reverse time or amplify your potential (“Peekskill” ain’t just your hometown). David Schwimmer, God bless him, is never going to be Laurence Olivier, and you’re not going to be president of the United States.
Your campaign doubtless thinks otherwise (though it did not respond to requests for comment). And your supporters can point to the fact that you’ve waded into the contest with some dangerously sensible ideas: a pathway to residency for illegal immigrants that includes 200 hours of community service, a law banning any member of Congress from ever registering as a lobbyist. Sadly, it would be easier for a 6-foot-5 Hungarian to pass through the eye of a needle than it would be for a candidate with your views on abortion, gay marriage, gun control and the environment to pass through the Republican primaries.
You’ll probably stay in the race through New Hampshire; you might even pull 5 percent there. But then what? Are you angling for a Cabinet post? Higher fees on the lecture circuit? Just polishing the rough edges on that vaguely familiar Pataki name? No one seems to know, and perhaps you don’t either.
True, we all counted you out against Mario Cuomo in 1994, and you’ve never lost an election for public office. But there’s a first time for everything, and it’s admirable to see a man of your age still seeking out new experiences. We’ll be there for you, Governor, when the rain starts to pour.
A moment of silence, please, for the fallen. George Pataki of New York. The odds could not be less in your favor.