In light of Gov. David Paterson's , Patch asked three Bayside residents who are political insiders—two Democratics, and one Republican—to render their analysis of Paterson's relationship with President Obama and the Democratic Party. Vince Tabone, Vice Chair of the Queens GOP, was the only one of the three to respond in time for publication.
Patch: Do you think the former gov. has shifted to the right?
Vince Tabone: I think some might view Former Gov. David Paterson's apparently half hearted defense of President Obama as an indication of personal animus. I would wager that the Governor in many respects has every reason to be miffed at his party and this President.
Governor Paterson by all accounts never wanted the big Chair. A well liked local State Senator who was an esteemed part of the Harlem establishment he was selected to serve as Lieutenant Governor by team Spitzer and the establishment to round out Spitzer's ticket. At the time he seemed happy to serve in this largely ceremonial post with Governor !@#$%^&*()_+! steamroller pushing a head and creating enemies lists while Lt. Gov Paterson continued going to ribbon cuttings and giving smart speeches.
Then the world changed. Spitzer's hypocritical illicit and illegal conduct was exposed and we had our first African-American Governor. Surpising to some is that this smart left of center Harlem establishment politician—always congenial, always well liked by members on both side of the aisle made every effort to rise to the occasion.
Institutionally as Chief Executive from the start he attempted to make hard fiscal decisions and looked to his former colleagues to work with him in the spirit of compromise. Largely it did not happen. One would have thought that members of his own party would have endeavored to help provide the first African-American Governor some legislative successes. Some easy early victories to cement his position. It didn't happen that way. And when extremely coincidential public relations episodes erupted the Governor had few defenders on his side of the aisle. There were no calls to just let him govern (along the lines we saw in the Clinton era) and President Obama did not provide him with any cover. Democratic partisans did not rally behind him with regard to his personal difficulties and gave him no help in securing a legislative legacy. Quite the contrary.
In fact Governor Paterson gets far too little credit for changing the debate in Albany—particulary with regard to budgets. His strategy of placing unpopular cuts into weekly emergency budget extender bills and holding the line on prolific spending marked him, if not as a conservative than as an adult who understood the responsibilities of the Executive branch.
Oddly his only allies at the time were Republicans in the minority in both houses. His appeals for help from the White House did not just fall on deaf ears in September of 2009 in a stinging rebuke Obama urged Paterson not to seek re-election.
On a very human level one might understand why NY's first African American Governor might feel just a tad betrayed. Charlie Rangel probably feels that same why right about now. Many voters have a similar sense of voters remorse by now.
Guess they never got it was about the "one" making history.
That said my assessment is that Governor Paterson did actually try and defend President Obama from the "birther" charges but inadvertently betrayed his misgivings about Obama's general honesty and loyalty. Obama is no Nixon in the sense that he seems more than willing to throw any former ally under the bus who becomes an impediment. Additionaly many feel that had candidate Obama or President Obama been more forthcoming and open with personal records this "birther" story would not have festered. Some feel team Obama may actually have allowed the story to linger so as to change the subject regarding his current record. Others continue to express doubts.
The short of it is I do not think that Governor Paterson has been transformed into some kind of arch-conservative. After all he still championed left of center social causes when Governor but he did strive valiantly to balance the budget with no help from his fellow partisans and it would appear his principal detractors who pulled him from his lofty perch were all fellow Democrats. No one gave him the support he needed to be effective and so perhaps in can be forgiven him now - that he was less than effective in his defense of Obama here.
The advice he gave fellow former Governor Mitt Romney to distance himself from the controversy since there are better issues with which to slam Obama is exactly right.
Governor Patterson having governed a large state knows full well it is all about the record now. Governor Patterson sees as many do on the right and on the left that Obama would probably rather debate the provenance of citizenship records than his record as Chief Executive right now.