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Friday: Gov. Paterson, it’s CAROLYN, not Caroline

Carolyn Maloney, D-Manhattan

Carolyn Maloney, D-Manhattan

Lady Caroline Kennedy

Lady Caroline Kennedy

I have read persistent rumors that Caroline Kennedy is on Governor Paterson’s short list of replacements for Hillary Clinton’s Senate seat.  Now, I don’t live in NY.  I live in the next state down.  So, maybe Paterson doesn’t give a flying f^&* what I think, although our two states *do* share a common harbor and the WTC was a joint operation so you might say I am a concerned citizen.  Then there is the whole concept of the Senate itself, which is supposed to be a cooling saucer for hot blooded mob rule that is the House of Representatives (snort!).  The Senate is supposed to be a different kind of legislative body, one that by its very number and makeup is intended to transcend state boundaries.  So, the fact that we have only 17 females in this august body is very disturbing indeed and we can’t afford to lose even one.  Percentage wise, the Senate should be more like 52% female to 48% male and we are certainly going to work very hard to bring those numbers up.  But if the Governor plays a game where he appoints Caroline Kennedy because she meets the gender requirement, he might as well be sticking a fork in our eyes.

Why should he pass on Caroline?  Let me count the ways:

  1. She’s not a politician.  Never has been.  She’s never run for political office, never advocated for legislation (that I know of), never even expressed an interest.  If Hillary were close to an election cycle, one might justify appointing Caroline as a symbolic gesture.  But Hillary has four years left in her term.  That would make Kennedy a rather strong incumbent.  She hasn’t earned it.
  2. The Senate is not the House of Lords.  I know the argument against dynasties has also been made against Hillary’s run for president.  But in Hillary’s case, she did the whole campaigning thing.  She’s worked on health care throughout her tenure as first lady.  She went into the senate having *earned* her seat through a legitimate election and her own accomplishments.  We saw her on the campaign trail for president.  She is smart, tough, assertive, unflagging, eternally optimistic.  We *like* her.  Just because her husband was a president doesn’t mean we had to deprive ourselves of the best presidential candidate in the past 15 years.  But in Caroline Kennedy’s case, the name is everything.  She is the closest thing we have to an American princess.  She’s an aristocrat and nothing more.  Oh, sure, she’s a lawyer and she’s published books.  But for her, it almost like finishing school.  She chose to lead a more private life.  Good!  Let her enjoy it.
  3. There are other women who would be passed over who would be legitimately and righteously indignant.  Kirsten Gillibrand and Carolyn Maloney are perfect examples.  For the upstate vote, Kirsten is the way to go.  She’s young, intelligent, well liked.  She’s very much in the Hillary model.  For experience, go to Carolyn Maloney, who has been elected from her Manhattan district *eight* times.  She has a track record of championing women’s issues.  For either of these true politicians who have earned their way to be queue jumped by Caroline Kennedy is a real slap to the face.

Wake up and smell the Starbucks, Governor Paterson.  You have an opportunity to earn some major mojo by appointing a woman who has *earned* that right through hard work and accomplishments.  Appointing a woman because of who she is and not what she has done further undermines women in the eyes of the public.  A woman’s accomplishments are always held to a higher standard than a man’s.  Caroline Kennedy would send the worst kind of message about women in politics.  Women will once again be beholden to male benefactors and not merit to get a seat at the table.  Forget about Lady Caroline and appoint Carolyn or Kirsten.

Do the right thing.

[UPDATE by katiebird] – And please take a minute to sign MadamaB’s petition: Appoint a Woman to Senator Clinton’s Seat