NY-Sen: Opposition To Kennedy Appointment Builds
by Todd Beeton, Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 10:54:00 AM EST
On my way from JFK to my parents' house today, one morning radio talk show was discussing the prospect of the appointment of Caroline Kennedy to Hillary Clinton's Senate seat. Specifically they were wondering what she's done to deserve such an appointment and what sort of Senator she would be. Skepticism -- to put it mildly -- was oozing out of the radio.
From what I'm hearing on the ground in New York, this radio talk show host is not isolated in his criticism. In fact, there's the distinct sense among the political establishment in NY that a Kennedy appointment would be seen as an insult, and Ben Smith reported this weekend that some NY Democrats are making their displeasure known.
Rivals -- including at least three members of the New York congressional delegation -- are starting to doubt Kennedy's viability and experience, and Paterson is said to be less than enthusiastic about picking her, people close to him say. Critics are even questioning the substance of her accomplishments in education, her most high profile issue.
"There is no frontrunner - period," snapped a person close to Paterson, when asked about Kennedy's prospects.
As Ben Smith notes, Kennedy's support for Barack Obama in the primary has even become an issue among some local Clinton supporters.
Prominent Clinton supporters, including Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.), union leader Stuart Applebaum and fundraiser Robert Zimmerman, recently expressed skepticism about the choice, suggesting that Clinton's supporters would see naming Kennedy -- a crucial Obama backer -- as a slight.
As a result, Hillary Clinton, after being clear that she would stay out of the appointment sweepstakes, felt the need to "chide" her supporters and asked them not to stand in the way of a Kennedy appointment.
The resistance is clearly not lost on Kennedy who is taking steps to shore up some statewide support. She reportedly intends to "demonstrate that she has both the ability and the stomach to perform the job, with plans to visit parts of the upstate region," has called Hillary Clinton directly about the seat and has now hired Josh Isay, a top New York political consultant, to shepherd her appointment through. This latter pick is not without its own controversy, especially among the left, as Isay has counted among his clients both Joe Lieberman and Benjamin Netenyahu.
Jane minces no words and echoes what appears to be an increasingly widespread skepticism about Kennedy's appointment.
Isay's ads were critical in deceiving voters and paving the way for Lieberman's reelection. Now that it's clear where Lieberman really stands, Daily Kos polling indicates Lamont would overwhelmingly defeat Lieberman.
It's telling that Caroline Kennedy has never wanted to run for office, and never thought to put her case before the public when she decided she wanted this job. Her first move was to pick up the phone and start working the elites, then hire a political fixer whose specialty is deceiving voters."She told me she was interested in the position," Mr. Paterson said at a news conference outside Albany on Monday. He added, "She'd like at some point to sit down and tell me what she thinks her qualifications are."
I think many people who aren't emotionally leaping into the cult of personality would like to know that too, because at this point in time, nobody knows what she stands for.
Update [2008-12-16 16:48:51 by Todd Beeton]:TPM reports that Kennedy has Sen. Harry Reid in her corner. Maybe she's better at this politics thing than we gave her credit for.
Reid on Kennedy in what I don't think qualifies as a ringing endorsement:
"She's 52 years old. I've spoken to her. She was part of a vetting process for vice presidential choices for Obama. She's lived in government and politics her whole life. I think it would be a tremendous thing...We have a lot of stars from New York. Bobby Kennedy. Hillary Clinton. I think Caroline Kennedy would be perfect."