But Paterson was an established politician before he ran for lieutenant governor. Now, however, he has been cast aside by his own party, with a possible investigation looming. This is dangerous territory for the New York State Democratic Party. Paterson has a lot of reach in the state, especially in the politically active sections of upper Manhattan. Republicans will never really side with Paterson on ideological grounds, but if his supporters decided to cross party lines in protest or just sit the election out in November, there might be a closer race between Cuomo and Lazio.
Cuomo would bring a wealth of experience, and he still has his father to lean on if he gets there. Lazio has not hit Paterson very hard in the last few months of campaigning. Perhaps this is because Lazio knows that he might be able to garner votes from some of Paterson’s supporters. Lazio is going to choose an upstate Republican as his choice for lieutenant governor. He has to take as much upstate support as possible and then cash in on whatever capital he has remaining from his days on Long Island. Add to that whatever he might be able to grab in Manhattan through unhappy Paterson surrogates.
Paterson, in all likelihood, will endorse Cuomo. Cuomo is a strong candidate and by "taking one for the team," Paterson will not be forgotten. But look for political leaders in Harlem and parts of Long Island, where Paterson was strong, to not be very happy.
What to Make of 400 Days?
In a law school in Washington, D.C., last week, two professors from different universities discussed, and at times debated, the success that the president has had in his first 400 days. One thing that stood out right away was that this has not happened in a long time. George W. Bush’s first year could not be analyzed to this extent because the events of September 11, 2001, changed the way we might have judged his performance.
The arguments favoring an Obama presidency in 2008 are still what drive his support today. They say that he brings hope to issues that some feel Washington has forgotten. They say that he believes in a new kind of government, one that seeks a new honesty. His detractors, in 2008 and still today, feel that he has weakened the United States overseas, and sends the wrong message to both military people and the opposition party.
So, the question is, can we really analyze a presidency when almost everyone is either a true believer or a die-hard opponent? It is most likely a question that was bandied about by the last administration. “This is a conviction president,” said Robert Kaufman of Pepperdine University, the professor arguing that Obama has not put the country on the right track. “Because he is a conviction president, he has no intention of reaching across the aisle and being bi-partisan.”
As a political scientist, this makes life a lot more dull – if you can imagine life getting duller for a guy that lives on C-Span and unsweetened iced tea. So driving through the beltway after the seminar, I turned on C-Span radio and listened to the president’s health care summit. Radio, as Richard Nixon could have told us, is a lot different than television. The president is a great speaker, and he comes across well on television, ut listening to the summit on the radio, his interaction with Republican senators and congressmen seemed less genial. This has been a long year for him, and you could hear it in his voice.
The president has done a lot in 400 days. He has passed legislation on green initiatives, and got the largest piece of legislation in history passed – his stimulus package. But those were not his bread and butter issues. His rating of getting legislation through congress is around 90 percent, but of course it comes with having majorities in both houses.
What comes from this last week is that much of how people will view his abilities to get big legislation wrapped up will depend on health care. It might get rammed through congress through reconciliation measures, but the president wants it come through a vote on the floor. Many times, conviction presidents are two-termers, even though they take a lot of criticism along the way.