Puzzling Politics in New York – But What Else Would You Expect?

gillibrandNew York Governor David Paterson has reportedly chosen Kirsten Gillibrand (photo at right) to fill Hillary Clinton’s vacant Senate seat. And you are probably asking, “Who in tarnation is Kirsten Gillibrand?” Well, she is an obscure Congresswoman from upstate New York, where (if my memory is accurate) they have things like county fairs and tractor pulls. When I lived in Toronto, I would lie in bed on a dreary winter afternoon and watch TV from across Lake Ontario, programs like Bowling for Dollars and commercials for Utica Club beer… It was a mind-numbing vision of Sarah Palin’s “real America.”

Political insiders know Gillibrand as a “Blue Dog Democrat,” which is the name given Republicans who have infiltrated the Democratic Party. Blue Dog Democrats cower at the word “liberal,” and refuse to acknowledge that the only gains Americans have made regarding civil rights were because of liberals. (I suspect a plot by the cunning Republicans to take over the Democratic Party now that their own party is defunct. But maybe that’s just me and my suspicious nature.)

cuomoTo Gillibrand’s credit, her career as a lawyer included pro bono cases on behalf of abused women and tenants in unsafe housing. During the Clinton years, she served as Special Counsel to the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Andrew Cuomo (photo at left), who – by the way – also expressed interest in Clinton’s Senate seat.

I don’t mean to be unfair to Paterson (who became governor by accident after Elliot Spitzer got caught with a prostitute, reportedly in a trap set by underworld opponents), but it certainly looks as if he showed a yellow streak when he chose Gillibrand. My guess is that he flinched at choosing Caroline Kennedy (photo below) because the New York City press curs and anonymous bloggers were yapping at her heels (I know, I know, she “withdrew” but he wasn’t going to pick her, anyway). And I imagine he didn’t dare select Cuomo (Caroline Kennedy’s former cousin-in-law) for fear of angering the powerful interests in the Kennedy camp. Besides, he was under pressure to replace Hillary, who happens to be a woman, with another member of the same gender. So I conclude that he weaseled out and picked Gillibrand.caroline

The  likely result? He has teed off both the Kennedy and the Cuomo camps. I guess he plans to retire at the end of his current term, as his chances of getting re-elected governor seem to me to be somewhere between plus-zero and minus-zero.  I wouldn’t give Gillibrand much better odds in the 2010 elections, either.

burrisIronically, dishonored Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich’s controversial choice of Roland Burris (photo at left) to fill President Obama’s Senate seat looks a lot smarter than Paterson’s choice to replace Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. (After holding their breath and stamping their feet like spoiled brats, Senate Democrats have relented and tapped Burris to serve on the powerful Armed Services, Homeland Security and Veterans Affairs committees.)

Once again – thanks to Paterson – I think the Democratic Party has shot itself in the foot.