Erie County -- land of political hyperbole.
That might be the new reputation for this part of the world after County Executive Chris Collins issued several "interesting observations" a few months ago that riled up the New York political world, followed today by Republican gubernatorial hopeful Carl P. Paladino.
Politico's Ben Smith reported today that Paladino told interviewer Curtis Sliwa on 970AM in New York City that passage of the new federal health care legislation compares to the terrorist attacks of 2001.
"The day that that bill was passed will be remembered just as 9/11 was remembered in history," Paladino said. "It was an attempt by these people in Washington to defy the Constitution. It is clearly in conflict with all of the basic precepts of the Constitution."
The Buffalo attorney and developer, who is slated to officially declare his candidacy on April 5, has a reputation for outspokenness. And just about all who follow Paladino expect he will say provocative things in his upcoming campaign.
Paladino acknowledges that he faces huge challenges in negotiating the pitfalls of New York City politics, but it's a sure bet he will encounter some outrage over his comparison of new health care legislation to the 9/11 terrorist attacks -- it's just too sensitive a subject in lower Manhattan.
None of that bothered Paladino, however, who issued a statement late this afternoon amplifying his earlier remarks.
"I fear the results of Obamacare will be so horrific that it will kill more Americans through deteriorating health care than were lost on 9/11," he said. "Nothing can lessen the terrible events of that day, but in terms of raw numbers, more will suffer and die through Obamacare."
Indeed, campaign manager Michael Caputo said nobody should expect Paladino to run a "politically correct" campaign.
"Carl meant what he said; he didn't slip," Caputo said. "If people are offended by non-politically correct comments, it's not going to change."
All this follows Collins' October remarks comparing Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver to Hitler and the anti-Christ. Then in January, while attending the State of the State speech in Albany, Collins suggested to a businesswoman from Erie County that she could obtain a seat in exchange for a "lap dance."
Is there something in the Lake Erie water?
-- Robert J. McCarthy