Here's the thing about Carl Paladino -- the man has no filter.
The rest of us, we've got a circuit breaker in our brain that tells us when to stop certain thoughts before we express them. Not Carl. If it comes to his mind, it comes out of his mouth.
I've been dealing with him, on and off, for close to 20 years, and I can speak from first-hand experience.
Sometimes it can be refreshing, in this age of calculating, often-phony posturing by those in the public spotlight.
When I got through, he thrust a letter into my hand that he asked me to read. It was something he had recently written to Eliot Spitzer -- this was back when he was still governor -- ripping Spitzer up one side and down the other. It was kind of amusing, actually.
I chuckled and asked Carl if he had gotten a response. Yeah, actually, Spitzer responded with a phone call in which he told Paladino it's not everyone who writes the governor telling him to go, ah, blank himself. Paladino said they then chatted for 20 minutes or so.
There is a much darker side to Paladino, however, one that was exposed by WNYMedia.net in an explosive post Monday. Racist, pornographic e-mails he sent over the course of the past year. Everything from Obama dressed as a pimp to a woman having intercourse with a horse.
This, from a guy who wants to be governor, running on a platform that includes Christian values. It's so bad that Paladino has Keith Olbermann and the head of the state Tea Party agreeing with each other.
Paladino's e-mails are shocking, on one level. But not altogether surprising, knowing Carl.
The filter thing, ya know.
I mean, just last week, someone told me of an episode he witnessed in which Paladino, in a public forum, denounced someone he disagreed with as a "slut." The target of his venom was a well-educated gentleman in his 60s.
Of more recent vintage are his diatribes against everyone from Andrew Rudnick to Phil Rumore to, well the list goes on and on and on.Sometimes it involves pointed criticism, which in many cases is justified. But too often, it devolves into ugly, personalized attacks seemingly intended to do nothing more than insult.
I'm on one of Carl's e-mail lists -- although I didn't receive any of the ones highlighted by WNYMedia.net -- and it's gotten to the point in the past year that I can't even read what he's got to say, it's so over the top. Vicious, nasty, foaming-at-the-mouth kind of stuff.
At one point, I almost picked up the phone to tell him that his style was undermining the substance of what he was trying to say, which wasn't always wrong, but I never made the call.
He did call me the other day, however, which is no big deal, given that we've had an uneven, but generally good working relationship over the years, in part because he likes the way I've put it to the pols in Albany and City Hall. Carl didn't call to offer any compliments this time, however.
Nope, he was screaming about my blog reference to his younger daughter being "born out of wedlock." That phrase was a no-no in his mind, even though, as I pointed out to him, it was factually correct and a lot less provocative than the "love child" phrase being used by the NYC tabs. No matter. He vented for a few minutes and hung up in a huff.
While it was pretty tame stuff by Paladino standards, it was not lost on me that this was the same guy with the self-described thick skin who is taking shots at everyone in sight, who just recently expressed the hope that Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver would be beaten en route to Attica if and when Paladino became governor.
It does make you wonder what he was thinking when he decided to run for governor with the history of infidelity and racist and pornographic e-mails. Did he not see the target he had painted on his back?
And don't think we've heard the last. Among other things, his birther e-mails are bound to show up soon in the public domain, 'cause I know they're out there.
Paladino is trying to fend off the e-mail revelations as the byproduct of a liberal conspiracy and he has recently taken more than one shot at the elite, liberal press. This from a guy whose name has appeared in The Buffalo News 1,211 times since 1988 -- when we started archiving our content electronically.
Artvoice, arguably the most liberal news outlet in town, has given him a soapbox a lot more often than you'd expect from an alternative weekly.
My point is that Carl is about the most quoted guy in the community. Some reporters seem to have him on speed dial. I'm sorry, but Carl is about the last guy in town who can complain about press coverage.
Out to get him? No, the press to this point has only been out to quote him. Early and often.
My "favorite" quote from his late-afternoon press conference Monday in which he offered up one part apology, four parts defiance, was this ditty:
"To the men out there who have never opened a graphic image on the Internet, don't vote for me. For those who have, I welcome your vote."
I wasn't there to witness the reaction of his campaign manager, but I can picture him cringing and thinking to himself, "Filter, Carl, filter."
Why should WNYMedia.net have all the "fun?" Have an e-mail from Paladino knocking around in your in-box? Pass it along to me here.