Sunday, September 20, 2009

Committing Politics: Barack Obama and David Paterson.

A chill wind blew through the Governor's Mansion in Albany NY this week.

In what some observers view as a unprecedented move, President
Barack Obama has taken the very unusual step of asking Governor
David Paterson of New York,an African-American Democrat, to step aside
from the upcoming 2010 New York Governor's race.

From today's New York Times:

" The move against a sitting Democratic governor represents
an extraordinary intervention into a state political race by the
President, given that Gov. Paterson is one of only two sitting
African-American governors in the nation.

" But President Obama' s team and other party leaders
have grown increasingly worried that the governor's
unpopularitycould drag down Democratic members of
Congress, as well as the Democratic-controlled legislature,
in next fall's elections "

It's also a very poorly-kept secret in both Albany and
Washington that
current New York Attorney General
Andrew Cuomo is both ambitious
and eager to parlay his
very high-profile prosecutorial campaign against

the Banksters into higher office.

It's also a fact that Mr. Cuomo is far better connected in
Washington than Governor Paterson. And Gov. Paterson's
relative lack of charisma and reputation for indecisiveness
doesn't help his cause either.

The almost comedic flap over Secretary of Sate Hilary Clinton's
New York Senate seat pretty much sealed Paterson's fate.

But Obama's intervention in state politics is unprecedented?

Oh, please.

First of all, a sitting President of either party is that Party's
de facto political chief. And selecting and evaluating candidates
for nationally significant elected office is one of a President's
most important political duties.

And the governorships of key states like New York and California
certainly qualify in that regard.

And if in the political opinion of the President and
his advisers, an incumbent has to go to make way for a
more attractive candidate, the unpleasant task of "firing" that
elected official falls to the President.

And it seems that that is exactly what has happened.

Now, in the normal course of things, if the "fired" elected
official is not being dismissed for scandal or wrongdoing,
another, less politically sensitive job will be quietly
arranged. No doubt such an offer is being prepared for
Paterson. If so, Paterson's "resistance" to stepping aside
is only pro forma - he'll no doubt take an Administration job,
say Assistant HUD Secretary, if offered.

Because the alternative would be politically unthinkable.

Without significant White House and national party backing,
Paterson would be a dead duck in a Gubernatorial race
against the Republican front-runner, Rudy Guiliani.

Major-state gubernatorial and Senate races are hugely expensive ;
and one of Paterson's admittedly major shortcomings is his lack of
skill at fund-raising.

Attorney General Cuomo, the son of former New York Governor
Mario Cuomo, is on the other hand well-connected nationally,
a prodigious fund-raiser , and charismatic and telegenic as well.

He's also taking a lot of heat off the Administration by going after
the banksters. Should he score a major conviction or guilty plea
before the election, he'll be a shoo-in for the Governor's mansion -
and he'll also earn the Administration's gratitude for doing something
they were reluctant to do in the first place.

Against all this, Paterson should realize he doesn't stand a chance.

I predict that after some ritual resistance, he'll
announce he won't run for Governor in 2010, endorse Cuomo,
and be rewarded for his loyalty with a job in Washington after
the election.

That's how politics is played at the highest levels.

And there's nothing wrong with this. Changing circumstances
sometimes mean a personnel change is necessary - in politics
as well as other areas of life.

And in this case, having the decision taken at the highest level
is entirely proper. Political management is an essential part
of a President's job - maybe the most essential part.

And Obama has played this one well.

1 comment:

  1. well put!

    David Patterson is blind and has achieved much as a blind man in politics, not just for himself but for the blind community. However, if I was a New Yorker, I would not want my Governor to be blind. Patterson has also proved to be indecisive, weak, and unpopular among many Democrats now including Barack Obama. Once Patterson went below the Bush 30's in popularity something had to be done and Patterson couldn't read the writing on the wall so he pretty much needs Obama to mouth it out for him.

    Concerning California, Arnold has problems and I still think *Gary Coleman* was a better candidate but Arnold is way better than Patterson. At least Arnold can see!

    Cuomo is a great guy and with Cuomo in the race Giuliani won't dare to run. If Giuliani doesn't have the balls to run against Cuomo, but he still wants to run, he can always run as a woman.

    * Gary Coleman was one of Arnold Schwarzenegger's competitors in the California Governor's race. I proudly voted for Gary Coleman.