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Sunday, September 20, 2009

Obama's arrogance hits new heights, with no limit in sight

The President of the United States and his senior staff have bragged to the New York Times that they have asked the sitting governor of the State of New York, David Paterson, to drop out of the 2010 New York gubernatorial race.

Speaking for attribution but not under their own names, "two senior administration officials and a New York Democratic operative with direct knowledge of the situation" have executed this attempted political assassination of their co-partisan from the East Coast's most populous blue state. And they made clear that they are not acting on some sort of frolicsome detour from their official duties, nor as power-drunk and -mad rogues acting without knowledge of their principal. Rather, their symbolic kiss of death to Paterson's campaign was, they insisted, "proposed by political advisers to Mr. Obama, but approved by the president himself."

The Times, of course, ran the story at the top of its Sunday front page in the featured right-column slot on both its NYC and national editions. The headline is "Obama Requests That Paterson Drop Campaign." As I write this, the online version is also the lead story on the main page of the Times' website.

2009-09-20 New York Times front page

The sub-headline reveals the lame, sad, but honest basis for Obama's decision: "Governor Lags in Polls." Yes, Paterson has committed the ultimate sin among the present day's "pragmatically progressive" Democrats, one far worse than his predecessor's well-publicized indiscretions with high-priced callgirls. Therefore commandeth The One, through his holy minions: "Now get thee under the bus, Paterson!"

I am no fan of Gov. Paterson's. I can't argue with the crass political calculations that may have prompted Barack Obama and his senior advisers to conclude that Paterson's continued presence in the 2010 race would harm the political fortunes of the Democratic Party and, most especially, the nation's Top Democrat.

But the sheer presumptuousness of this bit of overtly manipulative kabuki theater — the unmitigated arrogance, the craven Constitutional malice this ugly scheme encompasses — simply stuns me.

They are shameless, in the most literal sense of that word.

Posted by Beldar at 02:23 AM in Obama, Politics (2009) | Permalink


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(1) Michael J. Myers made the following comment | Sep 20, 2009 10:45:05 AM | Permalink

Shameless? I'll go with clueless, and frickin' stupid as well. And maybe even ham handedly incompetent.

The Emanuel, Axelrod, Obama cabal may well have decided that they did not want Paterson to run (although why it's any of their constitutional business is beyond me).

Having made that decision, the thing to do was to communicate it to Paterson--and Paterson alone. Telling it to the New York Times in a burst of adolescent braggadocio is and was beyond stupid. That was a rookie mistake. It's bad enough to have a fool as the chief of state--but an incompetent fool is even worse.

Now it may be possible that the decision was communicated to Paterson and he told them "up yours". In that case genius Axelrod may have decided to leak it to the New York Times, instead of doing the necessary knife work (you don't need to stab a blind man in the back--he can't see it coming regardless of the direction) with the pooh bahs in the New York Democrat party.

All in all, you can only look at this mess, shake your head and say Dumb, Dumb, Dumb!

(2) Beldar made the following comment | Sep 20, 2009 11:06:47 AM | Permalink

Mr. Myers, I don't think the intended target for this message is Gov. Paterson. They do have his phone number; they can send the direct message to him without going through the NYT. The reason for going through the NYT is that they no longer expect a direct message to be effective on Gov. Paterson's own decision-making process.

Rather, this message — this political hit-job — was instead directed to all of the faithful Obamites who not only read the NYT, but who take their cues from the NYT's reporters and editors. It's certainly directed to the commentariat and the chattering classes, and to the movers and shakers, to all the contributors and all the mid-level and low-level state office-holders and party officials. But it's also very pointedly directed to the entire voting public of New York State, many of whom consider themselves to be first and foremost part of the pro-Obama rank and file. As of today, they must be for the end of the Paterson campaign, lest they be guilty of betraying Him to whom their ultimate allegiance lies — The One, The Obama.

Paterson is already hemorrhaging badly. Whether it's Cuomo or Hillary or someone else, it's already likely that within the next few days or weeks, one or more formidable competitors will announce their candidacies for the Democratic primary. Indeed, this message was the pre-blessing to pave the way for such an announcement. Team Obama only needs to knock off any scabs that might be forming around Paterson's existing wounds, and keep the existing outflow of blood flowing freely. They only need to swing a few more percent points away from Paterson in the polls to remove the last shred of hope that he can even begin a serious campaign.

In short, this wasn't to persuade Paterson but to finish him off with an undeniably mortal wound. Team Obama expects Paterson to be politically dead in very short order, regardless of whether he acknowledges that fact. And it will almost certainly work. But it's still absolutely outrageous and despicable.

(3) Gregory Koster made the following comment | Sep 20, 2009 1:09:23 PM | Permalink

Dear Mr. Dyer: Shucks, The One is merely following hallowed precedent, e.g. Lyndon Johnson muscling Arthur Goldberg off the Supreme Court in 1965 to be UN Ambassador, nominally so Arthur "could end the war in Vietnam!"; really so Johnson could appoint his crony Abe Fortas to the bench. As a final dose of irony, LBJ listened to Fortas on Vietnam (none of this separation of powers bunk) far more than he did Goldberg.

As you say, there's a good chance this scheme will work. But outrage at The One's arrogance is misplaced. Is anyone not hypnotized really surprised? I'm not. Nor should you be. Campaigning is The One's natural environment. This is business as usual, raised one step above the normal vanity and thuggishness, I admit. What astonishes me is that the TIMES went along with this. What's the upside for the TIMES to reveal itself as a tool? Even if the TIMES is on the verge of failing, and is grubbing for a bailout, The One can't possibly protect Sulzberger & Co. for more than seven years, and even that's not guaranteed. So, too with New Yorkers. However infatuated the Empire State Democracy is today, seven years isn't forever. More, they can see the stumbling The One is doing now, in relatively calm international waters, and the ineffective response to the awful economic conditions.

To be sure, defying any sitting Prez is daunting. Doing so guarantees that the next three years at minimum will be Hell. But such a constraint doesn't apply to Paterson, with the knife in his back, the bus tire treadmarks across his carcass, and the vultures circling overhead. Now is the time for the Grubenor to roar defiance and play a suicide hand. What do I mean? Recall that the Grubenor has never been elected Grub, but is merely the beneficiary of the maniac Spitzer's out of control libido and id. Ergo, Paterson's involvement with the shenanigans that went on in 2008 to help The One roll up his 62-37 victory is minimal if it exists at all. Paterson can launch his own investigation into these scandals. What's he got to lose? So what if The One snaps the whip at the New York State Legislature? In the wake of ACORN, how many state legislators are going to vote to suppress any such investigation? They have a good idea what the political costs of such opposition might be. However intoxicating The One is now with New York Democrats, he can't save them from the electorate in the future.

So let Paterson discover some unexpected kamikaze genes in his ancestry. He doesn't even need to do so at the moment. There's time for him to begin this undercover, following Ben Hecht's advice for dealing with swine:

"Double cross the son-of-a-bitch."

When the inevitable recriminations begin, whether carried to Paterson by the TIMES stooges, or direct from The One's minions, Paterson can burst into song , which seems appropriate.

As a citizen of the United States, I am dismayed by this kidney punching. But as a GOPer and from my perch in Washington State, I smirk, reiterating what I wrote after the election: The One's administration promises to be the gaudiest show since US Grant's. This episode also makes me reopen an issue we've disagreed about before: Do you stil think The One is intelligent? You have properly cited his Harvard Law magna cum degree, whereas I've had to mutter vaguely about "he sure doesn't seem smart to me." But this incident doesn't demonstrate any intelligence. It does demonstrate the whackiness whereby The One assumes he is smarter than all the rest of the universe combined. Such a role requires that he roll the dice right every time. That's a mug's game.

Sincerely yours,
Gregory Koster

(4) NYer made the following comment | Sep 20, 2009 3:19:16 PM | Permalink

I'm sorry, but if you were familiar with New York politics, you'd know that Paterson has been a disaster and that New York Dems prefer he didn't run in order to avoid the embarrassment of getting crushed by the sitting Attorney General (Andrew Cuomo) in the primary. He was never elected and has been tripping over himself since day one.

(5) Beldar made the following comment | Sep 20, 2009 3:56:49 PM | Permalink

NYer: Thanks for your comment, but in the future please take the time to read what I've written before you leave a comment to one of my posts. You couldn't possibly have read my third-for-last paragraph beginning "I am no fan of Gov. Paterson's ..." and still have left the particular comment you just did.

Gov. Paterson was, of course, duly elected by the voting population of the State of New York to be its lieutenant governor, with the full knowledge that if something prematurely ended Eliot Spitzer's term, Paterson would take over. If he's turned out to be a dud and now he threatens to embarrass those who voted for him at lieutenant governor or his party generally, I'm entirely unsympathetic: That was one of the risks you took when you elected him to the number two executive spot.

And the point of my post really wasn't Paterson's competency, or whether he ought to drop out of the race. My point was, and is, that the President of the United States — someone with no role whatsoever in New York State politics under either the federal Constitution or the New York State constitution — is using the power of a still-enraptured press to interfere directly and materially in New York State politics.

Granted, I'm neither a New Yorker nor a Democrat. But I am an American, and when the POTUS is abusing his power — as this one now is — I do have standing as an American to protest.

(6) NYer made the following comment | Sep 20, 2009 4:55:36 PM | Permalink

Beldar, I did read the post in full. (Funny, I actually landed here searching for the NCAA rule re: the Texas game last night. Nice work on that.) Back on topic. Outside of your righteous indignation, I think you make some valid points. I may not agree with them, but I can rationalize the idea that the President should stay above the fray here.

Maybe we'll just have to agree to disagree, but while Obama is the leader of the country and free world, he is still the leader of the Democratic Party. When he runs for re-election there will still be a (D) after his name. It's naive to think that Presidents past haven't leaned on state level politicians for the good of their own party similarly.

Yes, I am a New Yorker and a Democrat and most of us want Paterson to disappear as quietly as possible. Doesn't look like it's going to happen, though.

(7) Beldar made the following comment | Sep 20, 2009 5:03:15 PM | Permalink

That's a very civil reply, NYer, for which I thank and commend you.

But Obama is the head of the national Democratic Party. Both parties have a combination of separate state and national organs, roughly paralleling our federal system. Even Obama's position as head of the party nationally is mostly symbolic: He received considerable deference in picking his own Veep nominee, but the real power is still at the state-by-state level (as he'll see again, I predict, in 2012, when he might well have an opponent of his own in the Democratic Primary, or perhaps one from both his left and his right).

And if anything, the fact that he's the sitting POTUS — with duties from that office which supersede any possible honorary position as head of his national party — should make him more circumspect in throwing around his weight. Here, he's not only acting like the proverbial 800 pound gorilla, he and his staff are reveling in that fact, just as if the decision whether Paterson should or shouldn't run were squarely within Obama's job responsibilities either as POTUS or head of the national Democratic Party.

The guy's ego literally has no bounds.

(8) NYer made the following comment | Sep 20, 2009 6:19:54 PM | Permalink

Well, civility is certainly something we could use more of on both sides of the aisle, and I appreciate you not calling me a troll for simply disagreeing with you.

(9) Mark L made the following comment | Sep 21, 2009 6:34:47 AM | Permalink

I don't know if your spam filter catches urls, but over at Hot Air they have a clip of Michael Steele "questioning the motives" of Obama in asking Patterson to step down. Pure Alinski. Steele implies Obama is a racist because Patterson was asked to step down before the primary while Obama is backing Corzine, whose numbers are nearly as bad.

Also, I noticed that Obama's call for Patterson to step down came right after Patterson suspended ACORN contracts in NY State. Hmmmmm.

(10) Amy made the following comment | Sep 21, 2009 4:04:41 PM | Permalink

I don't think Patterson will listen to Obama.

(11) Linus made the following comment | Sep 22, 2009 12:01:18 AM | Permalink

How does He Who Must Be Obeyed have time to micromanage state politics? Doesn't he have a massive health care-related boondoggle bill to not-write and not-read, as well as allies to throw under the bus?

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