09 December 2008

Senatorial Intrigue in New York

Another case for a constitutional amendment: the mystery surrounding Governor Paterson's impending choice of a Senatorial successor to Secretary of State-designate Clinton. Hillary herself has pragmatically decided not to resign until she's actually confirmed -- she may fear scandalous revelations or a constitutional challenge to her appointment. Nevertheless, powerful factions within the Democratic party anticipate her exit, and are intriguing to put pets in her place. It came out this week that Sen. Kennedy of Massachusetts is lobbying the governor to choose his niece, Caroline, who has never held political office before nor shown any prerequisite leadership skills except in her role in choosing Sen. Obama's running mate. Dying himself, Teddy plainly wants to keep the family in the Senate. He's said to have argued that the party can save on fundraising with a Kennedy prepared to run next time, while others in New York suggest that Caroline's glamour as the last survivor of JFK's family could make her unbeatable in future elections. But at the same time, the state's senior senator, Chuck Schumer, reportedly leans toward Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand, who just won a second term in the House in a recently Republican district. Schumer is said to favor Gillibrand because she's young, a mother, an upstate resident, and not a celebrity who would overshadow him in the upper house. If that last bit is true, then Schumer's motives are even more contemptible than Sen. Kennedy's.

Meanwhile, Mr. Peepers has interrupted me with almost uncanny timing to ask what I think of Fran "The Nanny" Drescher's announcement that she'd like to be considered for the seat.

"Do I have to think of it?" I asked.

"Aaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhh," he answered, "Aaaaaaaahhhhhh."

"I see you find it funny," I said, "But I don't know if I do."

"That's how she laughs," he explained, "Aaaaaaaaahhhhhh, aaaaaaaahhhhhh." And on he went through the department, soliciting opinions as he passed people, punctuating his queries with "Aaaaaaaahhhhhh" every time.

This doesn't even rise to the level of tragedy repeated as farce. It's just another farce, and just another proof, if the Blagojevich scandal (see below) wasn't itself overwhelming proof, that it's past time that we changed the rules for replacing Senators. Some people might say it's past time to replace the Senate itself, since its organizing principle of state equality offends democracy for the sake of an obsolete principle, but I don't think I'd go that far. While Congress is checked by the Executive and Judicial branches, I don't think it's necessarily a bad idea to maintain an internal check in the form of a bicameral legislature that recognizes regional interests. But instituting popular elections of Senators was supposed to end the kind of corruption and petty intriguing that we're seeing today. We'd be respecting the original intent of the men who drafted the amendment if we finished their work and put the Senate entirely in the people's hands.


hobbyfan said...

Swillary, to her credit, is not taking any chances. She knows she has enemies in the Senate (I think) who will try to block her appointment.

As for the Kennedy legacy, apparently Teddy realizes that he might not last much longer with his condition, and as you said, Sammy, wants to keep a seat in the Senate reserved for the family. Bear in mind, too, that Caroline has had an uncle (the late RFK) serve as a Senator from NY, so the precedent is there.

Either Caroline or Kirsten Gillibrand would be a better fit than wanna-be politico Fran Drescher. Her exaggerated Queens accent from "The Nanny" probably isn't how she talks in real life, but with her acting career on life support after her last series was cancelled, she may be desperate for one last grab for the spotlight.

If Gillibrand is chosen, then you have to fill her seat in the House. The chain reaction continues......

The Crime Think Collective said...

I find the idea of political dynasties in this country sickening. The idea that a Kennedy should be appointed to the senate to "save on fundraising", as if fundraising were the job of politicians. She'd just be another in a long line of carpetbaggers, just like Clinton. The people of NY should demand a life-long New Yorker be appointed to the seat, not someone with "name brand" recognition. Screw Teddy Kennedy - he's little more than a besotted, cancer-ridden douchebag who should have been imprisoned for vehicular manslaughter decades ago. Just where does he get off, being the Senator from Massachussetts, even opening his mouth regarding who should be the senator from NY?


hobbyfan said...

Teddy's on his last legs (if you believe the supermarket tabloids, especially), and of course wants to see his niece in the Senate to continue the family tradition. Personally, I'd rather have Caroline OR Andy Cuomo than Fran Drescher. We've seen enough actors elected to Congress the last 15-20 years, but Ms. Drescher would take the cake.

And if Cuomo should get the nod, NY needs another AG. Maybe papa Mario comes out of retirement.....?