While some liberals are complaining about the obvious racism among conservatives who oppose President Obama, another, more interesting, race issue has emerged. President Obama has asked Governor David Paterson of New York -- one of two sitting black governors and only the fourth in United States history -- not to run in the 2010 election. Paterson has rejected Obama's request -- good!
Paterson replaced Eliot Spitzer, who resigned following a prostitution scandal. Paterson was seemingly a shoe-in for the Democratic nomination until he made a major misstep. Earlier this year, he declined overtures from many people -- including Obama -- to choose Caroline Kennedy to fill Hillary Clinton's vacated senate seat. Caroline Kennedy and her deceased uncle Ted Kennedy were key endorsers of Obama during the Democratic primaries.
Obama openly supported Kennedy, but he suddenly stopped speaking about the subject after the "pay-to-play" scandal involving his own senate seat erupted. Remarkably, many people in the media openly suggested that Paterson should choose Kennedy because she and Obama could do wonders for his fundraising efforts. Yet, these were the same type of issues that shaped the Blagojevich scandal.
Also, polls showed that a substantial number of New York voters did not even want Kennedy to take the seat. Her numbers worsened after an unimpressive speaking tour. But many Kennedy backers complained about Paterson's "handling" of Kennedy's "candidacy." Apparently, he treated her like any other potential appointee and asked tough questions. Ultimately, he chose Kirsten Gillibrand, an upstate moderate, for the position. This choice caused Paterson's approval numbers to skid.
Today, Paterson's approval ratings remain low. Paterson attributes some of the anger to race. This reason sounds more plausible than the fact that he decided not to appoint someone whom many New Yorkers did not want to hold the office.
If New Yorkers want people from political dynasties to lead them, they can choose Andrew Cuomo, who once warned Democratic primary voters that Obama would be unable to "shuck and jive" through a press conference. The New York Times predicts (or maybe hopes) that Obama's request that Paterson step aside should "neutralize any criticism [Cuomo] may face among the governor’s prominent black allies" for running against a black incumbent. If Paterson's "prominent black allies" are beholden to the White House, rather than their own principles, then the New York Times is correct.
The Bottom Line: Obama is absolutely, indisputably and shamefully wrong for doing this. While many liberals are attacking the racism of Obama's opponents (just as they did with Hillary Clinton -- but with far less damning material), Obama is "paying back" a black governor who refused to engage in nepotism and appoint the wealthy, white, privileged Carolyn Kennedy who campaigned for Obama, to the Senate. I see no reason why Obama deserves antiracist advocacy -- which he says is not even warranted -- while he is trying to push out a black candidate who has lost popularity seemingly for the mere fact that he stood up to Obama and the Kennedys.