Monday, September 21, 2009

Unnecessary Roughness

Governor David Paterson is pissed. Who can blame him?

Okay, he's not especially popular at the moment. He never was. Trying to act responsibly — shutting down underutilized hospitals and nursing homes — was a major political mistake, and the attack ads from 1199 did a lot of damage. Add to that the fact that he was stuck with a totally unfair share of the blame for New York's sleazy and dysfunctional legislative branch, and that he's not exactly a dynamo of charisma, and it was bound to look bad for him.

So it is not surprising that Obama's political staff decided it would be better if he didn't run for governor next time around. Personally, I don't think Giuliani is much of a threat anymore — he kind of has "loser" tattooed on his forehead — but it wouldn't hurt at all to have a stronger Democratic candidate like Andrew Cuomo.

Okay, so the national party sends an emissary to urge Paterson to withdraw. Fine. The problem is in how it was done.

First, it was just plain bad manners not to invite the governor of New York to Obama's speech to Wall Street last week. Second, it was worse that, simultaneously, the President's chief political adviser, Patrick Gaspard, was telling Paterson to pull out of the race. Third, it should not have been Gaspard, the man behind those 1199 attack ads.

Then it gets worse: practically the complete text of the "confidential" conference is leaked to the press, almost immediately, by an "unnamed source" whose name probably is Patrick Gaspard. Obama not only yanked Paterson's legs out from under him, but he pissed on him when he was down. I truly hope the idiots still drooling over our "idealistic young president" are paying attention, but I'm pretty sure they're not.

Paterson could have been persuaded to withdraw gracefully. They could have offered him some ceremonial role at HUD, or made him ambassador to Anguilla, or something. They didn't.

However lacking David Paterson's skills as a chief executive may be, everybody in Albany agrees on one thing about him — he's a nice guy.

He deserved better.

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