I have a suggestion for Gov. David Paterson of New York, recently asked by an associate of Barack Obama to not run for election (not reelection, as he became Governor when Eliot Spitzer resigned) for the office of New York Governor. I have to admire Gov. Paterson's courage to stand up for himself, even though I don't agree with his politics, nor do I commend his record as Governor of New York.
William Katz at Urgent Agenda has said:
"What's a president to do? Now, it's true, Obama has a history of throwing friends under the bus and embracing enemies, so maybe this doesn't upset him all that much. But the other friends have gone under the bus willingly. Paterson is pulling a Rosa Parks."
I would suggest that Gov. Paterson take this verbal comparison to the next step by making a trip to the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan, and having a press conference alongside one of the Museum's most famous exhibits, the Rosa Parks Bus. Yes, he could stand beside the actual Montgomery, Alabama, bus on which the late Ms. Parks refused to give up her seat to a (more politically powerful) white person in December 1955, leading to her removal and arrest - and sparking of the Montgomery Bus Boycott.
Pres. Obama has no more moral authority to tell David Patterson not to run than the white bus driver had in telling Rosa Parks to give up her seat. In so doing, Obama shows that he is head not of the Democratic Party or its Black Caucus, but head of the Obama Party and its Obama Family Caucus. He is a politician and not a statesman and has set a precedent for other Democrats, some of them closet racists, to go to black elected officials and tell them to step down in tough election races "for the good of the Party." The other officials can now say, "Well, Pres. Obama said it to Gov. Patterson (who may well lose his bid for the governorship), so it is acceptable behavior."
When the Jamaican bobsled team went to the Winter Olympics in 1988, they knew they had less of a chance of winning a medal than Gov. Patterson has of being elected Governor of New York. But they didn't quit and go home. Wikipedia notes that:
"There, the Jamaican four sled stunned many of their critics by finishing in 14th place, ahead of the United States, Russia, France and Italy.
In 2000 the Jamaicans won the Gold medal at the World Push Bobsled Championships."
What Barack Obama doesn't understand is how one advances in truly competitive situations in the real world. You have to be willing to fall flat on your face a few times -- in public -- before you learn from your experiences.
In life, it's not how many times you fall down, it's how many times you get up.
Barack Obama, pre-selected for office in Chicago's political system, reminds me of the 1919 Black Socks team. For most of his short career, he never experienced what it takes to struggle for something in the real world without the fix being in. Running against Hillary Clinton and the charismatically challenged John McCain were real competitions, granted, but they came rather late in his political career. They were not part of his formative experience, as can be seen in what has happened since his election as president. He has poorly managed domestic (an unformed health care plan that frightens seniors) and foreign (the UN speech) policies, and race relations (Prof. Gates in Cambridge) like a man "who was born on third base (at Wrigley or US Cellular Field) and thought he hit a triple."
Gov. Patterson has worked his way up through the political system to earn election as a State Senator and then the Lt. Governor, being in a position to benefit from former Gov. Spitzer's problems. I never heard of him voting present on a majority of bills from the time he entered the New York State Senate in 1985 until the time he became Senate Minority Leader in 2003. He did this while overcoming a childhood optic nerve condition that left him legally blind. I'm glad he has decided to not step down because some politician who derides Special Olympics athletes on national television thinks it is good for that politician for Patterson to quit.
Even if Gov. Patterson loses his bid for election, he will go out a winner. That is something that Pres. Obama can't abide in other people -- and an attitude that other people can't abide in Pres. Obama.
Hat Tip: Dana Mathewson