LIKE A STEELE TRAP…. It’s hardly a secret that New York Gov. David Paterson (D) does not look like a strong candidate for re-election. Just this week, a poll showed 70% of New Yorkers hope that Paterson, who took office after Eliot Spitzer’s (D) resignation, does not seek another term.

With that in mind, it’s hardly a surprise that the White House hopes that Paterson decides not to run next year. What is a surprise is that Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele apparently wants voters to think President Obama doesn’t like black people.

Michael Steele said it was “curious” on why the White House would ask New York Gov. David Paterson (D) not to run for reelection in 2010.

“I found that to be stunning, that the White House would send word to one of only two black governors in the country not to run for reelection,” Steele, the chairman of the Republican National Committee (RNC), said on CBS’s Face The Nation.

Steele added, “It raises a curious point for me. I think Gov. Paterson’s numbers are about the same as [New Jersey] Gov. [Jon] Corzine’s. The president is with Gov. Corzine.”

A few thoughts here. First, Corzine and Paterson are not exactly in the same boat, and the comparison is silly. Corzine is running this year; polls show him trailing but closing the gap; and there wasn’t a stronger candidate last year, waiting in the wings. Paterson is up next year; polls show him with almost comically low approval ratings; and state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo (D) is strongly favored by voters, both among Democrats and among voters in general.

Second, for Steele, who spends a fair amount of time complaining about others playing the “race card,” to suggest on national television that President Obama is somehow racist against an African-American governor might be one of the all-time dumbest things the RNC chairman has ever said. And with his track record, that’s no small feat.

It is, to borrow Steele’s word, “stunning.”

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.