Friday, January 23, 2009

It's Senator Gillibrand, Instead

Image credit: Cropped by Cujo359 from Rep. Gillibrand's (soon to be gone) House website

If there's any phrase I hate uttering, it's "I told you so." That's not because I'm some saintly human being who knows he too, is fallible and is patient with the fallibility of others. If anything, the opposite is true, at least as far as my patience with stupidity is concerned. The reason is that whenever I've uttered that phrase, something stupid has happened. I give you the new U.S. Senator from New York:

New York Governor David Paterson designated U.S. Representative Kirsten Gillibrand to succeed Senator Hillary Clinton, the secretary of state in the Obama administration.

Paterson chose Gillibrand, 42, a Hudson Democrat whose sprawling mostly Republican district is near Albany, bypassing better-known Attorney General Andrew Cuomo. The twice-elected congresswoman voted against the assault weapons ban and the $700 billion financial bailout bill -- positions at odds with Paterson’s.

Gillibrand Appointed by Paterson for U.S. Senate (Update3)

I don't know why Gillibrand didn't vote for the bailout bill. There were some good reasons to be skeptical. What I do know is that the woman is considered a Blue Dog Democrat, and for good reason:

Her posture on immigration is also distinctly not that of a mainstream New York Democrat. On a page of her House web site that shows a passport resting on an American flag, she clearly states, “I am firmly against providing amnesty to illegal immigrants,” and highlights her sponsorship of a measure that proposed bulking up on border patrol agents and fencing along the border.

On the issue of gay rights, Gillibrand received an 80 out of a 100 rating from the LGBT advocacy group the Human Rights Campaign. That was the lowest score out of New York’s Democratic representatives. According to the Human Rights Campaign, she voted against the repealing of “Don’ Ask, Don’t Tell” legislation, opposed legislation that would grant equal tax treatment for employer-provided health coverage for domestic partners, opposed legislation to grant same-sex partners of U.S. citizens and permanent residents the same immigration benefits of married couples and opposed legislation to permit state Medicaid programs to cover low-income, HIV-positive Americans before they develop AIDS.

Spotlight Moves, Slowly, Toward Two More Non-Kennedys

I suppose the title of that article says a lot about this selection, which is that as much as anything it's a non-Kennedy. As a rule, I'm not all that impressed with this generation of Kennedys, at least among the ones who are left. One exception to that rule, though, is Caroline Kennedy. People keep opining that she hasn't done anything. In fact, over the years, she's demonstrated both a sensitivity to the world around her and a profound interest in making it better. She's just done it quietly.

I'm also not particularly interested in political dynasties, but once again, let's be realistic. Andrew Cuomo, the son of former New York governor and one-time Presidential hopeful Mario Cuomo, was one of the other candidates mentioned. Gillibrand's father, as Bloomberg mentions:

Gillibrand grew up in Albany, the daughter of lawyer and lobbyist Douglas Rutnik, a Democrat who remained close to Republican former Governor George Pataki.

Gillibrand Appointed by Paterson for U.S. Senate (Update3)

was something of a mover and shaker. Politics, like other professions, tends to run in families. While building dynasties is something I'd like to avoid, I'm more interested in the person than the name.

It may be, as some have suggested, that Gillibrand will turn out to be more progressive when she represents the entire state, rather than a particularly conservative portion of it:

That said, Gillibrand is not an ideologue. The positions she took were arguably necessary as a means of getting elected in a conservative-voting district. And there is a notion among political observers that if she represented the entire state, those positions would soften to better reflect New York’s more liberal complexion.

Spotlight Moves, Slowly, Toward Two More Non-Kennedys

Gillibrand's vote for the bad FISA bill that ended up passing is something she didn't need to do to please her constituents. Nor was her vote against early coverage for AIDS. If she really does move toward the left, then maybe she'll be worth supporting, but right now I'm skeptical, to put it mildly.

The complaints about Caroline Kennedy around the liberal blogs were pretty amazing. They complained about dynasties, and about the fact that she hadn't held public office before, as though either of these things were new. In the end, we got a product of a dynasty, and one that isn't friendly to our interests as progressives. So, I hate having to say I told you so.

It's true that Caroline Kennedy was having trouble dealing with the press. I suspect that much of her life, her contacts with the press were amicable. Dealing with skepticism and outright hostility is probably new to her, and she'll need to practice it if she wants to be a politician.

I hope she does. To me, she's the kind of person who makes it onto the Slobber and Spittle Blue list - someone who has demonstrated through her actions that she will live and vote her progressive values. Despite the fact that the amount of money she'll earn from that "honor" is about what she finds in her dryer each week, she'll almost certainly be on that list should she decide to run.

Meanwhile, congratulations Senator Gillibrand, and don't forget us out here. We'll be watching.

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