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.