Friday, January 23, 2009

I Know You Can’t See Me.

“Gilli-who?” was the question this morning on the lips of New Yorkers. Governor David Paterson has selected Congresswoman Kirsten Gillibrand, to fill the United States Senate seat vacated by Hillary Clinton, according to various new reports this morning... Stay tuned.
Gillibrand isn’t someone I’m terribly familiar with other than her distinction as one of the very few female Democrats who have been endorsed by the NRA like Rosalind Kurita in Tennessee or Debbie Halvorson in Illinois. Representative Carolyn McCarthy, who ran for and was elected to Congress (She ran after her husband was tragically shot and killed by Colin Ferguson while commuting on the Long Island Rail Road in the infamous 1993 massacre that left 6 dead and 19 others injured) has already said that if Representative Gillibrand was appointed to Hillary’s seat, she was prepared to run against her in 2010. I don’t blame her; Congresswoman Gillibrand has a record diametrically opposed to that of most Democrats (see the last paragraph).

Out of the frying pan and into the fire.

I don’t think anyone cuts Governor Paterson any slack because he’s blind, he’s just too smart for anyone with any sense to feel sorry for him. I like the way he’s handled a lot of the nonsense in Albany. But there has been definite insularity from policy criticism afforded him due to the fact that he came into office under fire and took the Governor’s reigns so forcefully after it turned out that progressive shining knight Eliot Spitzer couldn’t stop paying for sex on the weekends. He has been using this cushion, abusing it frankly, in regard to recent decisions like the senate appointment/replacement power he is charged with executing. When Governor Paterson makes calculated political moves like this one and trades one kind of chip for another, it doesn’t seem like he has the state’s best interests at heart.

I am really trying hard to see how our process here in New York has been fundamentally different from what Rod Blagojevich has tried to do in Illinois, and I’m having a tough time finding a distinction other than Blagojevich’s tacky and naked gangsterism. Both Governors have put their future political fortunes and power before the needs of the people in their own states in regard to selecting a new Senator. It doesn’t seem like anyone is terribly worried about the consequences of putting someone other than the best person for the job in Hillary’s seat in New York. The state of New York needs a Senator who can alternately get along and fight really, really hard when necessary. This is about our tax dollars and our future. This is serious business. When I hear that only women are being considered for this post, but none of the recognizable female powerhouses in New York politics are actually being considered, I have to face Governor’s Paterson’s more cynical motivations squarely.

The suggestion of Carolyn Kennedy as a replacement for Hillary Clinton was just laughable. Whereas Carolyn Kennedy’s now aborted appointment was both transparent and baffling from the start, the selection of Kirsten Gillibrand is being judged by many as a political move by Governor Paterson who has his eye on his own election in 2010. Paterson has picked Gillibrand because she can help him make gains in key demographics like upstate New Yorkers and female voters.

Now as readers of this blog know, I think guns are pretty damn cool. I am opposed to the NRA’s efforts as an “unofficial” arm of the gun manufacturing lobby, so this doesn't make Gillibrand into someone I’m crazy about, my love of pistols and automatics notwithstanding. I think gun laws and their enforcement are far too lax in our country. When people ask me why... “Colin Ferguson” is one of the myriad of reasons I submit.

Congresswoman Gillibrand is a smart, tough campaigner by all accounts. She beat an incumbent Republican in a very nasty race. She can fight and she can operate in the ferocious Albany environment… but to what end?
In this new era of change, where we are fighting hard to step out of the far right trajectory that the Bush administration imposed on our political system, I don’t see what Gillibrand, (who would make a great running mate for someone like Joe Lieberman,) offers New Yorkers in regard to representing their state in Washington:

Gillibrand is the only member of the 2007 New York delegation in the House to agree to the Bush administration's request to extend the Iraq War funding.
While she was on the advisory board to the Brennan Center for Justice, she supported the Bush administration's rewriting of legislation to enable spying on anyone's telephone conversations and calls.
Gillibrand has repeatedly said she backs the renewal of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy.
I mean, this is supposed to be my Senator?... Seriously?
Political gains are the only reason I could see for ignoring Gillibrand’s bizarre record as a Democrat.

Governor Paterson, I know you can’t see me, but are you aware that we can see right through you?



Jack Jodell said...

SJ, I was puzzled by this appointment too. I can only think that he wanted a Democratic appointee who would run well upstate in 2010 and not be considered "too liberal." But it seems foolish, because I believe the popular and far more palatable Andrew Cuomo would have done nearly as well there and would still keep the state in the Democratic column for a long time to come...

SJ said...

Hey Jack,
We've been hearing all morning that she was suggested by Senator Chuck Shumer... -bizarre.
You're certainly right, Andrew Cuomo is certainly a better -and better known choice.