The drop in postings was related to travel and career crises. Now realizing that I should live on Bleeker Street instead of this swamp, expect a little more frequency again.
Other things I learned over the last several days: College theatre is frequently terrible; there are now buses with free wireless; Washington Heights is actually pretty nice above 180th Street; the man on the A train knows that the end is near; Cornelia Street Cafe is excellent; my great-grandmother’s FBI file is 180 pages, including clandestine photos; there is a Bible museum on 61st and Broadway; those ubiquitous Bank of America ads are really annoying, though one of the girls is pretty cute.
Anyway, the thought for today is political appointments. Not the Obama debate, not the late, unlamented burrowing Bushies. Caroline Kennedy, daughter of President Kennedy and blameless inspiration for this tripe, officially wants Hillary’s Senate seat:
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Caroline Kennedy told New York’s governor on Monday that she’s interested in the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Hillary Rodham Clinton, making her the highest-profile candidate to express a desire for the job. Democratic Gov. David Paterson will choose the replacement.
Caroline jumped into the national spotlight in January 2008 when she described Senator Obama as “A President Like My Father.” She had not endorsed a candidate since 1980, when she supported her uncle’s primary challenge to President Carter. Caroline campaigned for Obama, and eventually joined Attorney General nominee Eric Holder on the Senator’s Vice Presidential search committee.
In 2010, Governor Paterson’s interim pick will stand for election. There are a number of state Democrats with strong legislative backgrounds, but none with Caroline’s fundraising power and name recognition. She’s a rock star, and her uncle is pushing the idea of a new Senator Kennedy. New Yorkers seem receptive, with Kennedy the Younger polling even with State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo. Cuomo, himself a legacy, has never been able to break through in electoral politics. He blew a lead in the 2002 Democratic gubernatorial primary. Cuomo and Kennedy lead a crowded pack of Democrats including:
- Catskills Representative Kirstin Gillibrand, a Blue Dog who stole a red district from the horrid John Sweeney;
- East Side progressive Carolyn Maloney, former co-Chair of the House Caucus on Women’s Issues and recent N.O.W. endorsee;
- Long Island County Executive Tom Suozzi, a moderate type who lost a quixotic gubernatorial primary bid to Eliot Spitzer by 60 points; and
- African-American Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, previously the first black State Senator from a district outside of New York City, who has scored 57%, 62%, and 67% victories in three Mayoral campaigns.
Whoever gets the Democratic nomination may face a well-known Republican challenger (the Divine Miss Rudy denies it, but former Governer Pataki or Tsar Michael might be in if they don’t prefer to take on Paterson for Albany.) Even with Schumer a lock for re-election, the state could have high-profile races for both the Senate and Governorship in 2010.
Paterson has kept quiet on his decision thus far, with an aide leaking that Caroline remains a long-shot. The Governor noted Kennedy’s interest in the position, explaining “It’s not a campaign. She’d like at some point to sit down.” Democratic Representative Gary Ackerman harshly dismissed her candidacy, claiming that she lacks qualifications “except that she has name recognition — but so does J. Lo.” Republicans also seized on her short resume, with the generally absurdist Congressman Peter King arguing that “[no one] has a right to a seat.”
I like Caroline Kennedy. She brought an impressive energy to the campaign trail. But, mark it down for posterity, I’m completely with King on this one. It isn’t necessarily Caroline’s fault. It isn’t Caroline’s fault an Illinois-born Arkansan was basically handed this seat back in 2000. It isn’t Caroline’s fault that the New York Congressional Delegation got in line like puppies, Moynihan, Rangel et. al. anointing their new best friend. It isn’t Caroline’s fault that we haven’t had an upstate Senator since Charles freakin’ Goodell. As good a carpetbagger as Hillary has been, her and Wall Street Chuck don’t much speak for anyone beyond Metro North range. (Full disclosure: I grew up just past the last stop on the Hudson Line.)
This is a name and power seat, and I for one don’t want another candidate handed to the state pre-packaged and ready to go. New York has an impressive backbench of Democratic Congressmen and Mayors, all of whom stepped aside for Hillary, all of whom will struggle badly if forced to face an incumbent Caroline and her money in 2010. Although Cuomo is also a legacy, he has at least been active in state politics for a long time. While Caroline’s fundraising work for New York schools has been commendable, there’s no reason she can’t run for her uncle’s seat down the line. There’s no reason, other than the fact that she has a name and endorsed the right Presidential candidate, that she’s even being considered for this position.
Caroline Kennedy has every right to run for the spot, and I think she’d make a perfectly decent Senator. However, appointing her now would all but ensure her election in 2010. Whoever Paterson appoints becomes the obvious frontrunner, but her money and name recognition would make Kennedy particularly unchallengeable as an incumbent.
Paterson ought to appoint a caretaker Senator, someone with no interest in running in 2010. (Either a House member planning to retire, or a low-profile member of the state government.) Then Kennedy, Cuomo, and the rest of the gang can poke eachother with sticks two years from now in a competative race. If Caroline really wants it, if she’s prepared to fight for the seat rather than simply accepting it, she’ll run; if her interest faded with the possibility of a long, competative process, we have plenty of qualified candidates waiting in the wings.