The governor has managed to turn the entire senate selection process into a vaudeville act-reminiscent of the indecisive Alphonse and Gaston characters; and the press is started to let him have it. In this morning's NY Daily News, Bill Hammond lets loose: "Caroline Kennedy may not deserve to be a U.S. senator, but she doesn't deserve to be slimed by the Paterson administration, either...She should not have to see her famous name and family dragged through the mud by vindictive aides to an embarrassed Gov. Paterson. Whether Kennedy withdrew because of an alleged "tax problem and a nanny issue," as sources close to Paterson anonymously claimed, they had no legitimate cause to make that public."
Ouch! And in the Post, Jacob Gershman also excoriates Paterson-even claiming that Governor Balogovich did a getter job selecting a new senator: "As the ashes of Caroline Kennedy's brief foray into politics are shoveled away, New Yorkers are left with a sad irony: Battling corruption charges and staring down certain impeachment, Gov. Rod Blagojevich did a better job of picking a US senator than did David Paterson."
The question for us is, why did Paterson's folks even have the need to trash Kennedy ex post facto? Kennedy was doing such a good job of this herself-and if left alone to flounder would have continued to do so unaided; after all, her midnight madness act was going to spur ridiculous levels of rumor and innuendo. Now, however, Paterson's made himself the issue when it was totally unnecessary: "Blago may be headed to prison, but in executing the same responsibility that rests on Paterson, the Illinois governor was confident, shrewd, and decisive - the very qualities absent from our governor. Today Paterson will put the Senate selection process out of its misery. He'll then have to deal with an aftermath of confusion, bitter feelings and outrage for which the governor has only himself to blame."
All of this can't do the governor's political fortunes any favors. As Hammond remarks: "The ones not ready for prime time are Team Paterson, the Washington Generals of politics, who have thoroughly botched the job of selecting a replacement for Secretary of State Clinton." And Gershman comes back with the following cut: "A Democratic operative familiar with the selection process summed it up like this: "The governor's handling - or rather, mishandling - of the selection process has been a circus from start to finish. With his dithering, leaks and abrupt 180s, he's managed to demean the candidates, the office and himself in the process."
So while Gillibrand gets center stage today-and the pick, however accidental, is indeed a good one-it is the governor who will have to repair his damaged image, As the Post editorializes: "All the high drama undermines public confidence in Paterson's ability to do the heavy lifting needed to balance a budget that is billions out of whack." All of which makes for an interesting election cycle in 2010.