We generally agree with Paladino about the overarching issue. It was the unnecessary, er, rhetorical flourishes we could have done without. By making statements that could reasonably be interpreted as derogatory toward gays, Paladino undermined what should have been a simple argument about policy, hurt his campaign, and, frankly, needlessly hurt feelings.
None of these things should disqualify Paladino from office; after the Spitzer-Paterson debacle, Democrats seeking to deride Paladino are offering nothing more than hype aimed at preserving their stranglehold on state government.
Why, then, would we—as admitted Paladino fans—rehash this debacle? Well, reading the Buffalo News on Sunday, we were extremely impressed with the political deftness of John Ceretto, the Republican who hopes to replace political derelict Francine DelMonte in the Assembly.
Asked by Buffalo News reporter Tom Prohaska where he stood on both gay marriage and abortion—either of which could accurately be described as “the third rail of electoral politics”—Ceretto gave a very straightforward, very blunt, very honest answer, and yet said not a single word that could be described as harsh or mean-spirited or derogatory.
Here’s how the exchange played out in Prohaska’s article:
Ceretto said he says the rosary while walking in Niagara Falls State Park on his lunch break. He showed a reporter the wallpaper on his cell phone: a photo of a statue of the Virgin Mary at the Fatima Shrine.
“I carry Mary to keep me focused,” Ceretto said.
Gay marriage? Abortion rights? Not on his watch.
“I follow the Catholic Church on that,” he said.
Reasonable people can, and do, disagree on these issues. (In the interest of full disclosure, we’re socially moderate ourselves and have mixed feelings on both very complex issues.) That being said, there can be no doubt for anyone who’s ever met Ceretto about his sincerity when it comes to his faith, or where he stands on issues. There’s not a single bitter note in his words here, and yet he gave a more direct answer than many Albany politicians have ever given in their entire political careers. People deserve direct answers from their elected leaders, and they also deserve not to be insulted when their representatives don’t share their views—whether the issue is tax policy or something as deeply personal and intimate as when life begins. In Ceretto’s answer, he managed to be both direct and respectful. We like that.
And that’s why we’re becoming rather fond of the guy who in all likelihood will be the next Assemblyman from the 138th District—and why we wish he had been the one whispering in Carl Paladino’s ear before that disastrous comment.