- The Washington Times - Monday, September 21, 2009

PATERSON HOLD

New York Gov. David A. Paterson is getting a vote of no confidence from Washington’s Democratic power brokers, including possibly President Obama, the Associated Press reports.

The Rev. Al Sharpton is lobbying the White House to pressure Mr. Paterson to call off his re-election bid to make way for New York Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo - a pick Washington insiders hope will be able to hold the seat for the Democrats.

A senior White House adviser told the AP that Mr. Obama has not talked to Mr. Paterson about the race and that the administration has not and will not pressure the governor to step aside.

The New York Democrat, who took the reins of power from the scandal-plagued Eliot Spitzer 18 months ago, has no plans to step aside, one of his top aides told the news service. Mr. Paterson has continued to suffer politically through one of the state’s worst economic declines and low public approval, which has hovered around 20 percent in recent polling. Mr. Cuomo, the state’s top prosecutor, has enjoyed broad support, however, registering public approval about 70 percent.

POST-RACIAL

“As an African-American elected to an office never before occupied by someone who looked like him, this national leader has a chance to improve race relations in this country - if he’s willing to call out racism in ways that are unpopular. In this respect, with so much racial strife, he is the right man for these times,” Ruben Navarette writes in the San Diego Union-Tribune.

So which black political leader wins the civil discussion accolades? How about Republican National Committee Chairman Michael S. Steele.

The former Maryland lieutenant governor and U.S. Senate candidate stumbled through the start of his tenure atop the party, scrapping with conservative thought leader Rush Limbaugh and awkwardly trying to introduce hip-hop lingo to the Grand Old Party.

But former President Jimmy Carter’s remarks last week about racism and the outburst of Rep. Joe Wilson, South Carolina Republican, provided a public-relations opportunity that Mr. Steele seized in a series of news statements and interviews, Mr. Navarette writes.

“Where Steele really delivered was when he tried to turn the tables on Democrats who are criticizing Rep. Joe Wilson and insist that many of those who represent poor and minority constituents are doing more harm than the South Carolinian who called out Obama,” Mr. Navarette writes.

“The war of words is on, and Michael Steele is getting in his share of licks. More importantly, let’s hope the RNC chairman is also getting African-Americans to think about those policy areas where Democrats have betrayed them. It’s time that community learned to challenge its friends as vigorously as its adversaries. It’ll be better off for it.”

LINGO SUCCESS

Regardless of what the Obama White House wants to call it, the “war on terror” is working and President Obama is reaping the benefits of the hard work of the George W. Bush administration, writes the Wall Street Journal editorial board.

U.S. forces killed two top al Qaeda operatives and an Indonesian terrorist in recent days, the Pakistani army has made significant gains against the Taliban and a British court convicted three men involved in a 2006 plot to blow up several airplanes.

“For those who were the victims or near-victims of the attacks perpetrated by these men, this is justice. For the rest of us, it is an additional measure of safety. Despite conventional wisdom that killing terrorists only breeds more terrorists and fuels the proverbial ‘cycle of violence,’ there is a reason that the U.S. has not been attacked in the eight years since September 11, and that major terrorist plots in Europe have been foiled,” the Wall Street Journal writes.

The newspaper gives credit primarily to the national intelligence community, but also to Mr. Obama for dropping much of his campaign rhetoric opposing counterterrorism measures adopted by the Bush administration.

“None of this means that the war on terror (or whatever you’d like to call it) is anywhere near over. It may never be. But in a struggle in which a day when nothing happens is a victory, it’s worth recalling that nothing doesn’t happen by accident,” it writes.

ISRAEL DESCENDANT?

Has the change in administrations also changed the dynamics for Middle East peace? Detroit News scribe Nolan Finley writes that it has turned it on its head.

“What a difference a year makes. Under the Bush administration, the preconditions for peace rested heavily on the Palestinians, who were asked to renounce violence, bring order to the territories and recognize Israel’s right to exist,” Mr. Finley writes.

“The Obama administration, which wants to restart the talks later this month, has scrapped those prerequisites and instead drawn a hard line in the sand over the settlements. The building must stop, the White House says, before negotiations begin.”

The concern comes as the White House lays plans to restart the Middle East peace process, including a meeting of President Obama, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday.

Tom LoBianco can be reached at tlobianco@washingtontimes.com.

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