Friday, January 23, 2009

The New New York Senator

I don't know, I have mixed feelings about just about everything regarding David Paterson's appointment of Kirsten Gillibrand to fill Hillary Clinton's US Senate seat in New York until the required election in 2010.

1. Regarding Caroline Kennedy: I'm disappointed that she will not be going to the Senate. As I've argued previously, her going to the Senate would have been an historically significant and satisfying act - her stepping up and taking the seat once held by her slain uncle, RFK, in a branch of government in which her slain father, JFK, served, before becoming President in 1960. Caroline heard the call to public service made by Obama throughout his campaign, and stepped up.

But why did she withdraw at the last minute? If for something like personal or family health reasons, then we can chalk this up to more bad luck for the Kennedy family and our nation. If she withdrew for personal, non-health reasons that she knew about before stepping forward, then that would count against her. If in fact she withdrew because she knew, as Gov. Paterson now says, that he was going to choose Representative Gillibrand, than I wish she had not done that - but the main villain in this piece would then be Paterson.

2. I don't like the way Paterson conducted himself in all of this in any case. He should have made a public decision much sooner. Now he says he knew on Inauguration Day that he was going to choose Gillibrand ... if true, for what reason? Why did her preferable to Caroline Kennedy - or, for that matter, Andrew Cuomo?

3. And as for Kirsten Gillibrand: she has a 100% approval rating by both the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Rifle Association. And that says it all to me. Because, even though both ACLU and NRA share a powerful support of the Second Amendment, with which I do not disagree, the NRA goes much further. As did Gillibrand, in introducing a bill (which didn't pass) which would have made it more difficult for police to track firearms. On the other hand, Gillibrand supports a woman's right to decide when to become a mother, and she supports gay marriage, too.

So, all in all, though I'm not at all happy with the way this whole selection process was conducted, and the way it turned out, I'm willing to support Gillibrand for the present, and see how she performs in office.


P.S.: One other, minor point: What was Al D'Amato, former Republican Senator from New York, doing at the Gillibrand (Democratic) appointment ceremony? Well, maybe I shouldn't ask - any time D'Amato appears anywhere, it does provide a little publicity for my Phil D'Amato character.
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