Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The next junior senator from New York will be... not Caroline Kennedy

By Michael J.W. Stickings

It is being reported that Caroline Kennedy has withdrawn her name from consideration to replace Hillary Clinton as the junior senator from New York. She supposedly informed Governor David Paterson of her decision earlier today.

As I wrote last month, I didn't think she was the right person for the job, and I objected to her ongoing efforts to be appointed. It's not that I don't like her -- I suppose she's a fine philanthropist and a decent enough person, not least if judged according to the dismal standards of the U.S. Senate -- it's that she has no political experience and that she thought she was somehow entitled to be appointed simply by virtue of her own celebrity status, if not her famous last name -- or so it seemed.

It's like she decided, after getting her feet wet working for Obama, that she wanted the job, threw her name into the ring by letting anyone and everyone know, in not-so-subtle fashion, that she wanted it, and then launched a self-promotional campaign, including a whirlwind tour of the state she lives in but doesn't seem to know all that well, to overwhelm the competition, including Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, a campaign that did not mean having to answer any questions or engaging with the competition or otherwise being subjected to the rigors of an actual political campaign. And, fine, it wasn't an actual campaign -- it's Paterson's decision to make, and he can appoint whomever he likes -- but the playing field was never even, and Caroline Kennedy had the upper hand simply because she's Caroline Kennedy.

While I understand and appreciate her concern for Uncle Ted, whose health is not good, I have to wonder about that self-promotional tour, about her campaign to be appointed. Was she ever really committed to it, did she ever really want the job, or did she just think she did, or was she just trying to convince us that she was? After all, it's not like Ted just became ill this week.

So what is the real reason for her sudden withdrawal? Why did she back out at the last minute? Maybe it really is her uncle's health, but it seems to me that there must be more to it than that.

Or maybe it was all just a big joke. And a big waste of time.


UPDATE: Or maybe she will be after all. Both the AP and NBC are reporting that she hasn't withdrawn (via PoliBlog).

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