Governor Paterson Must Man Up!

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[Fleming's View]

Any political future may have quickly ended for embattled New York Governor David Paterson when he played the race card during a recent radio interview.

The media firestorm escalated into a crisis stage as the politician pressed the issue of media bias and a societal free pass for White lawmakers. Every local White political columnist immediately penned scathing pieces calling Paterson a “whiner,” a “quitter,” or something worse – an inept bumbler in over his head.

What did Governor Paterson say that was so wrong? First, the governor blamed his problems, and those of President Barack Obama, on a prejudiced White media with an “orchestrated” attack campaign on his strategies and achievements.

He spoke with candor to radio host and Daily News columnist Errol Louis during that ill-fated interview, bitterly commenting on the glorious political triumph of Obama in a new racial environment. “We’re not in the post-racial period,” he bristled. “My feeling is it’s being orchestrated; it’s a game, and people who pay attention know that.”

Furthermore, Governor Paterson went on to discuss the rough-and-tumble nature of the media, aggressively attacking him and his effectiveness. “We don’t have the kind of forces in the community that we had before, in other words, our Black media outlets. Even our own reporters from our own community buy the public line, which is, ‘We’re going to get rid of David Peterson.’” 

The governor connected his fate with that of President Obama when dealing with a hostile White press. “The next victim on the list – and you can see it coming – is President Obama, who did nothing more than to try a health-care system….only because he’s trying to make change.”

First, Obama’s Administration spokesman dismissed Governor Paterson’s claim of a bigoted white media, saying that “the president doesn’t think it’s the case.”

Truthfully, President Obama did not need the thorny race issue back on his plate, especially with all of the domestic and international flashpoints currently on his agenda. With record-low numbers in public opinion polls, the governor was immediately advised by those in his inner circle, including former New York City Mayor David Dinkins, to stop calling his critics racist.

“Definitely he should get off the racist thing,” Dinkins said. “Right or wrong; it’s a fight you sure can’t win.”

This brings us into Paterson’s precarious relationship with the media. One; the governor had a brief honeymoon with the press but his advisors talked him into revealing his infidelity in his marriage and his early drug use. A big mistake.

Then the governor seemed powerless to untangle the stalemate in the State Legislature in Albany when two Democratic legislators switched party allegiance for some time and a poisonous mutiny within his own party. He has not led the battle to plug a large budget gap of $2.1 billion. His appointment of the new lieutenant governor Richard Ravitch did him no good when it was ruled unlawful by a Court. The media highlighted his frolics at a Chelsea club and the Saratoga Race track, painting him as a carefree, do-nothing governor while the state is in a deep fiscal crisis.

While Governor Paterson has backed off his race remarks, they have not have served him well in public opinion approval. Most of the state’s citizens wanted him to do well, especially after the Spitzer debacle with the hookers. The majority of Black citizens want him to use his remaining time as the state’s political leader more effectively, and not get caught up in these senseless distractions.

Focus and do the state’s business.

If you tackle the critical issues confronting the state, you will not have to worry about the next election. It will take care of itself. We want Governor Paterson to prove our faith in him. We want him to succeed. The issue of race and racism will not go away. Governor Paterson, it’s time to man up!

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