Jonah Goldberg
Former Republican New York Gov. George Pataki personifies almost everything I dislike in politicians. He's not corrupt -- as far as I know -- in the criminal sense, but he's entirely corrupt politically and intellectually. He goes along to get along, with his colleagues and donors, with liberal pieties and the editorial boards that spew them. He was a lazy governor who often worked no more than 15 hours a week, and over his 12 years in office he held at most three cabinet meetings.

He "broke virtually every political promise he ever made," according the New York Post's legendary state editor Fred Dicker, and was so shameless in his lack of principles, integrity and loyalty that former Sen. Al D'Amato -- the sort of man best pictured swimming a moat at night with a knife in his teeth -- said of his protégé: "What he did broke my heart."

He left New York on the precipice of economic ruin and the state Republican Party a shambles.

Oh, and Pataki is also the author of what I have long considered the single dumbest prepared statement in modern political history.

"It is conceivable," Pataki said in 2000 when he signed a hate-crimes bill into law, "that if this law had been in effect 100 years ago, the greatest hate crime of all, the Holocaust, could have been avoided."

You could write several Ph.D. dissertations on why that is idiotic. Though I do like the image of Hitler having his hands tied by a hate-crimes law, you know, because there were no laws against genocidal murder when he came into power. "Meine herren," Hitler would have to tell his comrades in the Eagle's Nest, "I'm afraid there's nothing I can do."

At this point you might think that this is a column about George Pataki. You might even suspect that I'm launching a pre-emptive strike on him in response to rumors that he's pondering a presidential run.

Nope. The truth is, I want him to run, and not just because I enjoy watching baloney charge the grinder.

There's a lot of grumbling and moping on the right about how the Republican base doesn't like the current field of candidates. I'm not wholly unsympathetic. I'd like to see several other names touted as top contenders, starting with Rep. Paul Ryan. I fear many of the candidates have significant flaws in terms of experience, temperament, skills, electability or ideology. In fact, there's not one declared candidate I'm completely comfortable with.

And you know what? That's OK. That's what primaries are for. Let 'em all duke it out, 16-man (and woman) steel cage style. Let Pataki get in and explain why any non-glue-sniffer should want him to be president. He might serve as a useful foil.


Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
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