Friday, January 23, 2009

Hello, I Must Be Going

The announcement that Governor Paterson will appoint Kirsten Gillerbrand to the empty senate seat, will not dampen speculation surrounding the abrupt departure of Carolyn Kennedy from contention early yesterday. The whole episode was bizarre; and the reasons for her leaving remain opaque-raising speculation as to why she really took her name out of contention. As the NY Daily News reports: "A nasty war of words erupted Thursday between loyalists to Gov. Paterson and supporters of Caroline Kennedy after she abruptly dropped out of the scramble to succeed Hillary Clinton as New York's junior senator. The Paterson camp contended Kennedy withdrew her name because of a "tax problem" and a "potential nanny issue" - while adding that the governor never really intended to name her because she wasn't ready for "prime time." "She was facing some potentially embarrassing personal issues" that came up in the vetting process, a source close to the governor said."

Now we're not sure why the governor's folks needed to comment on the Kennedy withdrawal, and the bitter tone of the remarks indicates that there is more here than meets the eye; and her midnight departure conjures up images of Cinderella and pumpkins. To us, however, all of this underscores just how unready Kennedy was for all of this. As the NY Times tells us: "There was incredulity in Democratic circles on Thursday afternoon after the governor’s camp engaged in a ferocious public back-and-forth with Ms. Kennedy’s side, reaching out to numerous news organizations to disparage her qualifications; one person close to the governor said that her candidacy had been derailed by problems involving taxes and a household employee, but declined to provide details."

And this: "The person close to the governor also said emphatically that Mr. Paterson “never had any intention of picking Kennedy” because he had come to consider her unready for the job." Why the piling on now? This is something that is usually left for us to do. The News follows in the same nasty vein: "The Paterson camp fired the first salvo in the war of words - and the message was particularly bitter. One source close to Paterson said the governor never intended to choose her for the Senate seat once held by her uncle, Robert F. Kennedy. The source cited her lack of policy experience and her poorly received dealings with the media, which showed "how not cool she was under pressure." "It was clear she wasn't ready for prime time after her botched rollout," the source said. "The events of the last day just prove why he wasn't going to pick her."

Of course, the guy who comes out of this looking the most foolish is Mike Bloomberg-someone who actually created the Caroline campaign and then tried to deny his own involvement in the effort-as well as his self interest in her elevation. He now becomes a candidate for "The Biggest Loser" show; and compounds it all, by trying to deny, even against all of the evidential fingerprints, that he had anything whatsoever to do with the Kennedy debacle.

So Caroline departs, and leaves the elites somewhat less grandiose. But we are waiting for more of the back story on this to emerge. And we come back to our question from yesterday: Was she pushed, or did she jump?