Does anyone really believe that Caroline Kennedy is the most qualified person in New York to represent the interests of New Yorkers in the United States Senate?
Assuming, for a moment, that she was not a Kennedy, would the replacement Governor of New York, David Paterson, be considering her for the position?
I think not.
But politics is a strange and twisted business.
Take for example David Paterson’s ascension to the Governor’s office.
Paterson was the son of a locally well known New York State Senator, Basil Paterson. Before Basil resigned from his senate seat, he pulled some strings and positioned his son David in the District Attorney’s office in Manhattan.
In 1985 David resigned from the D.A.’s office to work on the campaign of David Dinkins for Manhattan Borough President. Dinkins later became one of the city’s worst Mayors ever, served one term and was ultimately defeated for re-election by Rudy Giuliani.
After Dinkins’ campaign for Borough President, Leon Bogues who succeeded Basil Paterson in the state senate died. Subsequently a hastily prepared special election to fill the vacant seat was held.
With fifty eight percent of the districts Democrat County Committee behind him, David Paterson received the nomination for his fathers senate seat.
This senate district covers parts of Manhattan including Harlem, so it is staunchly liberal. As such, the Democrat nomination is tantamount to winning the election and David did.
In 2006, the state’s Attorney General, Elliot Spitzer sought the Democrat party’s nomination for Governor. With many high profile, Wall street crimes successfully prosecuted by Spitzer, he was the party’s rising star. In fact many saw him as a future national leader for Democrats. His race for the nomination was anything but a race. With one opponent Spitzer won the nomination in a landslide and with a Republican of little recognition and even less money, Spitzer was assured of winning the Governor’s race.
That in mind, he selected David Paterson to be his running mate. The selection of Paterson helped to win favor with minorities and the liberal wing of the party. As an African -American who established an ultra liberal following, the addition of Paterson to the ticket allowed Elliot the freedom to not have to campaign too far to the left. Thereby allowing him to speak to those in the middle without turning them off by publicly addressing liberal concerns.
With Paterson on the ticket, Spitzer knew liberals would be behind him.
And they were. As expected Elliot Spitzer won in a landslide election.
But that landslide victory quickly turned into a even quicker and more dramatic fall from grace as the earth shifted again and Spitzer was forced to resign from office after it was discovered that he was hiring call girls for, shall we say, nongovernmental business.
And that is how David Paterson became Governor.
Now as Governor, David Paterson finds himself in the position of appointing someone to replace Hillary Clinton in the U.S. Senate.
That situation, in and of itself, is another stroke of luck for David Paterson.
After losing the nomination for President, New York Democrats wanted assurances that Hillary would not challenge David Paterson for the nomination for Governor of New York in 2010.
They never got that assurance until Barack Obama took care of that for them and nominated Hillary for Secretary of State.
Of course Paterson could feel that a challenge to his nomination for re-election is not yet resolved with Clinton out of the picture. Andrew Cuomo’s desire for the job could pose a threat but if Paterson appointed Cuomo to the U.S. Senate, he too would be taken out of the picture thereby assuring Paterson the nomination.
So what of her replacement?
Well a look at David Paterson’s rise to power would indicate the rationale behind choosing Caroline Kennedy.
Paterson did little to get the job that he now has.
He entered politics through the political strings pulled by his father and came to political office through his fathers name. And ultimately he became a governor because of a vacancy in the seat.
So why not select Caroline Kennedy? She has the Kennedy name and there is a vacancy.
So putting qualifications aside, there is absolutely no reason not to select her but quite a few reasons for Paterson to do so.
The first being, by appointing Caroline Kennedy to the U.S. Senate, Paterson will be winning the favor of Kennedy’s allover the country. That means plenty of money in his bid for re-election.
The second reason is perception. As a Kennedy, Caroline is adored. Regardless of issues or her positions on the issues, the public perceives her as a symbol. As the last surviving child of an adored, martyred President, Caroline Kennedy is a figure few want to oppose. So she is a safe choice that spares Paterson a great deal of criticism.
Additionally, after choosing Caroline for the senate seat, a race against Andrew Cuomo probably would not be a much of race. Paterson would have the backing of both U.S. Senators form New York, Chuck Schumer and Caroline Kennedy. He would also have their organizational and financial support as well as that of all the Kennedy’s.
So given the logic of politics, whether Caroline Kennedy is qualified or not, really doesn’t matter. Qualifications are not a factor. If they were David Paterson might be considering New Yorkers with expertise in areas that need leadership like our economy. Why not consider New Yorker Donald Trump? If Mike Bloomberg is such a great Mayor of New York City, why not appoint him to the senate? Why not replace one Clinton with another? Bill is available. It is not unprecedented for a former President to serve in congress and if he is so great, why not him?
I am not saying I want any of those characters in the U.S. Senate but why not consider them?
The answer simply is that qualifications are not a factor.
As Peter King, a New York congressman from Long Island said “ if name identification is a qualification, why not pick J-lo?”. Jennifer Lopez has plenty of name recognition.
I do not know where Caroline Kennedy stands on the issues. I do know that of all the Kennedy’s she is my favorite. There is nothing to dislike about her. So she comes to the table with a clean slate with me. But is her name really a reason to suggest that she is the most qualified New Yorker to help shape the future of our nation?
Realistically, no, but politics has little to do with the reality of national concerns. Politics is personal and it revolves around the personal ambitions of individuals in government, not the people who are effected by government.
So why not Caroline Kennedy? It could be worse. MoveOn.org founder and liberal lunatic, George Soros is a New York resident.
Considered the 55th richest person in the world and one of the three wealthiest in New York, with a net worth of 7.2 billion dollars he could certainly finance the success of a political careers including David Paterson. But who will assure the success of our nation?
While some play name games and others try to auction off elected offices, who will assure us that the best people represent us? Certainly not those who are already in office.