Caroline Kennedy: "No Drama" Before "No Drama" Was Cool

By Al Giordano

The reports that Caroline Kennedy is interested in New York Governor David Paterson's appointment to replace Senator Hillary Clinton in the US Senate have created a fascinating set of reactions that in some cases have resonated inversely with the dynamics of the Democratic presidential primaries of 2008.

Let's tug at the threads of some debates regarding the possible Kennedy appointment to demonstrate that there is an ongoing battle over the heart, soul and future of the Democratic party that did not end or disappear with Obama's November 4 victory, and that is part of what is at play with the coming appointment in New York.

On a purely political level, if it is true that Attorney Kennedy would like to serve in her uncle Bobby's old senate seat, we can probably consider her appointment - whether one loves it or hates it - a lead-pipe cinch. For Governor Paterson - thrust into the job of Governor after Elliot Spitzer crashed and burned from personal and legal scandal - his first political priority is to get himself elected to continue as Governor in 2010. By appointing Kennedy, New York Democrats would get a junior US Senator that would coast to reelection without diverting significant resources from the governor's contest. And Paterson would curry goodwill from many New Yorkers, downstate, upstate and suburban, that would be thrilled with the choice of the Irish-American daughter of President John F. Kennedy.

The truth is, no matter who Paterson picks - be it Andrew Cuomo or any number of members of Congress - there will be grumbling from the camps of those that didn't get it, with many legitimate arguments about why one deserved it or would have been better than the other. (This is why the tea leaves suggest that over in Illinois, Governor Rod Blagojevich may appoint a "caretaker" in 73-year-old Emil Jones to fill Obama's Senate seat, so as not to raise the ire of various powerful pols and factions with their eyes on it, allowing them to fight it out in the 2010 primary and him to duck the blowback from the also-rans.) Paterson won't have that problem if he chooses Kennedy. She is in a league of her own. And, at least in public, all the other clans and factions in Empire State politics will have to recognize it and live with it.

On a policy level, it would be an even more brilliant move from the perspective of liberalism and progressivism: Attorney Kennedy is underestimated by some only because she's lived by the "no drama" approach to politics long before Obama made it popular. Most people have little idea of her accomplishments because her style has been to seek results not credit for them. I know, because in the 1990s, as political reporter for the Boston Phoenix, I covered the Kennedy family and all its doings - including Ted Kennedys 1994 reelection battle against Mitt Romney - very closely. Caroline, at the helm of the Kennedy library, has served as the true executive director of the family and all its political and policy interests. She has also been the family's ambassador nationwide and around the world: the one that attended funerals and other matters of statesmanship on the family's behalf. That she generally avoided the spotlight in doing so, and always avoided personal scandal - a particularly difficult challenge for anybody named Kennedy - is testimony to her skill and finesse at the political game.

The Kennedy policy machine is nothing to shake a stick at: Senator Ted Kennedy has, during 46 years in the Senate, installed a generation of policy wonks as lead staffers on almost all the key committees in the upper house of the Capitol dome, and no small number in the lower one. When Teddy nods his head subtly in a given policy direction that network marches as an army and has steamrolled over Republican and business interests time and time again. When progressive legislation has been passed - when reactionary legislation has been killed - on civil rights and liberties, health care, jobs and wages, education, and on other issues, the fingerprints of current and former Kennedy staffers have been on each and every one, even as Teddy shined the spotlight on other legislators who took the public lead. Joe Biden and John Kerry are among the Senate veterans that have benefited from Kennedy's generosity when it comes to sharing or assigning credit.

Paterson and New York, thus, would not just be getting a Senator. They would get, with Caroline, the driver with the keys to the most finely tuned and influential progressive national political network in American politics, reaching (in many cases invisibly) into levers of power in all branches of government and in many states far from Massachusetts, including among the networks planted by the Southern Civil Rights movement and among Hispanic-American political leaders and organizations from Texas to California for whom "Tio Ted" has been mentor and unflinching ally. (The Kennedys have long been central to the push for multi-racial movements in US politics, one that just became realized with Obama's election as never before: that will also serve Attorney Kennedy and so many of her constituents well in New York.)

Here's what I find so interesting about some of the early reactions: Some Clinton loyalists and others are not happy at all with this development. The arguments they deploy, in the Daily Kos comment threads and elsewhere, to disparage the possible appointment are identical in many cases to those they defended against during the presidential primaries (and even more so in 2000 during Clinton's first campaign for Senate): They say: Why should a member of a political dynasty get the job? She's never held elected office (some of us, on the other hand, see that as a plus, just as we saw Obama's lack of "beltway boiling and seasoning" as positive). Attorney Kennedy, some say, hasn't enough "experience."

And you can also feel the bile rise up their throats as they cut to the real thing they're upset about: That such an appointment would supposedly constitute a political payback for her (and the Kennedy family's) support for Obama, or a matter of "patronage" or nepotism, or "aristocracy," or that she represents, to some, the same politics of "celebrity" that some (wishfully) want to believe explains Obama's primary victories. (And, yes, it is very funny to listen to complaints from some of the same mouths about Attorney Kennedy not being "charismatic" enough. They're really scraping the barrel to come up with a legitimate reason for what is evidently more of an emotional revulsion.)

The possible Kennedy appointment also opens up some wounds from some (including some former Edwards enthusiasts) that see all things Obama through the lens of "Dear Leader-ism," one writer's never-ending suggestion that Obama's base is somehow made up of dupes more into cult of personality than policy (an attempted insult that is so obviously born of sour grapes that its not worthy of response other than perhaps by quoting Alex Haley: "History is written by the winners.")

I'm not saying that these superficial contradictions make for anything hypocritical: to the contrary, the critics of a possible appointment of Attorney Kennedy to the US Senate are essentially correct in perceiving that something much bigger than symbolism would occur through it. The Kennedy and Clinton tendencies in the Democratic Party have embodied two distinct magnetic poles each trying to pull the party in different directions for the past 16 years, and before that between Kennedy and Carter tendencies.

This was very much at play with Senator and Attorney Kennedy's endorsement of Obama early in the primaries, and intentionally signaled as such. The Kennedy organization was not happy - many of us were not - with the change in direction that the Clinton administration brought to the party, toward a blatant acquiescence to corporate interests, away from the New Deal and the Great Society. And while both families have had their share of public personal scandal, for the Kennedys that hasn't bled much at all into the political or policy realms: we just have never seen Ted Kennedy, for example, go to Malaysia and collect $200,000 for a speech from a corporate power broker, lavishing his benefactor's company with praise, as occurred yesterday with Bill Clinton, now getting a few last international paydays in before his ethics agreement with the Obama administration kicks in to prevent future such embarrassments.

The problem isn't really - on either side of the debate - one of "dynasty" per se but, rather, of which one. There are dramatic policy and ideological differences between the Kennedy organization's vision of the Democratic Party and the Clinton organization's. In the end, one side or another's pleasure or distaste is more for what a particular dynasty has done, than merely that it happens to be one. So it's natural that people that prefer the Clinton over the Kennedy formula for doing politics would object to an appointment to a member the latter organization whereas those more ideologically in harmony with the Kennedys (and particularly Ted Kennedy, giving his final months or years his all for the same causes for which he has lived) tend to be excited by the suggestion of Caroline as Senator.

An appointment of Caroline Kennedy to the US Senate from New York is qualitatively different than it would be, say, for Robert Kennedy Jr. or another member of the family: She, more than any other of her generation, brings the reins and detailed knowledge of the family organization for which she has been (I'll use a phrase that's provocative but not to be scoffed at once you've given it a minute's thought) the "community organizer" among the Kennedys, the administrator and attaché that has been most responsible, among them, for complying with the details once Ted Kennedy has exercised the broad stroke leadership.

Finally: Anybody who underestimates Attorney Caroline Kennedy, who wants to view her as somehow lightweight or just a celebrity name inside a business suit, does so at the risk to his and her sense of reality. Her skill sets are not merely adequate, but, rather exceptional and extraordinary. She was "no drama" before "no drama" was cool. And her appointment, if it comes, will be a gift that keeps on giving before and after Ted Kennedy moves on to the great battleground beyond.

Update: Here's another reason I'm fond of this idea. Attorney Kennedy, at 51, would be younger than 90 out of 100 US senators. That the upper house is stale and stodgy is an understatement.


What I wonder if she's REALLY interested. It's not the kind of public role she's  ever sought before, she's always been happier to be more private. But if she is interested in it, then I say great!

I've always thought she and her late brother were two of the sanest and best adjusted members of their family - and if I remember correctly wasn't it rumoured that Sen Moynihan would have preferred Caroline's younger brother to put himself forward for the seat the Senator was vacating, rather than the former First Lady?? How ironic would it be it Clinton was therefore replaced by Caroline :)

And yeah, she may be quiet, but this is a woman with serious steel running through her, for a start there's having to publicly go through the deaths of her parents and brother, but I always remember her decision in the days after John's death, to not invite Christiane Amampour, who'd been one of John's closest friends since their days as housemates in Rhode Island, to his funeral because Amanpour had appeared on CNN and spoken about John, even though it was to say nothing but the warmest of things.

Anyone who underestimates her makes a mistake, but hey it's been the year for people underestimating others, just ask Senators Clinton and McCain!


As we monitor the stocking of the Foggy Bottom pond with Clinton aides (Clinton/Albright apologist Michael Sheehan's Rwanda-never-was-and-never-could-be-an-American-interest role being the most disturbing to me), an announcement of Caroline Kennedy's appointment as Clinton's replacement in the Senate would be a poetically just pick-up for both Obama and NY. Obviously, Obama will have gained a staunch ally in the Senate and, as others have said, NY would get a line into the White House. Kennedy adds a bit more cover for Obama to push a decidedly liberal agenda, while, at the same time, the Clintons, Inc. will be monitored and managed in the forwarding of an Obama agenda. If this potential two-fer comes to pass, it will smack of the chess-vs-checkers moves we have been marveling at for 20 months--a victory for strategy over tactics. 

A New Lioness

Hi Al,

I appreciated this piece very much, you nailed what I had been thinking. The Kennedy model and the Clinton model are very different and each has its pros and cons. In today's atmosphere, I like the choice of Caroline Kennedy very much, and I am old enough to remember her standing next to her brother and mom as her father's casket rode are many of us old DFH's. It seems to me that having her in the Senate at this moment would "spark up" that staid body - as I see the whole range of Obama's initiatives getting stuck there unless Feingold, Kerry, and others get really "fired up". She just might be the ticket for this effort - at least that is my hope.

OTOH, I signed up to host a "Change is Coming" next weekend thru the Obama website and lo and behold, about 10 peeps are coming for desserts and coffee, not too shabby - especially since I corraled two of my left-wing friends to come just in case nobody else would show up - so the spirit of the campaign is alive and well here in SW Ohio even tho we have suffered mighty blows from GM closing a big operation here. Or perhaps in spite of the blows, but I suspect as winter turns to spring these "little" efforts will pay off big. My personal fight is to turn up the pressure on my local congresscritter Mike Turner and most especially on the Dreaded George Voinovich to support the new president's undertakings both on the financial front and getting us out of Iraq quickly. I suspect Sen. Sherrod Brown will have his own ideas that we can support, too.

Finally, my 53rd birthday is this month - by total coincidence, I was born just about 2 weeks after Rosa Parks declined to give up her seat on a city bus. We have come so far, yet not far enough - and the fight goes on. May you and all the Field Hands have a joyous holiday season and a winter filled with hope. I read here daily but don't get to post a comment often, but you all help keep me sane and focused. I have a classroom full of hopeful 7-and 8-year olds, plus two grandchildren, who do the rest in "real" space & time. :)

You must have been watching me

argue with your "stalker" in the DKos comments on today's diary on this topic.  S/he called the appointment of Caroline "patronage at its worst," then failed to demonstrate the validity of that claim in the face of my questions. 

His/her final retort was that IF Obama applies "pressure" on Paterson to nominate Caroline, that constitutes a horrible abuse of patronage.  Ironically, this same person proposes Andrew CUOMO as a nominee who would not carry a whiff of "patronage."

But what can one expect from a person who believes that the best description of your skepticism of the Clinton SoS nomination constituted "lies?"

It makes sense to me now

Maybe I'm just slow on the uptake.

I can now see why Obama put Hillary in the SOS slot.

Hillary works for Obama now, in the senate she could have challenged him, as SOS she can challenge him, but not publicly.

Caroline, is an advocate that Obama can count on in the Senate, something that I can't imagine Hillary would have been. Ther would have always been a sort of uneasiness there.

It's a friggin' coup d’état.


I like the no drama before it was cool option. If she wants it, I hope she gets it.


this is literally as well as figuratively the children of the slain king coming back to set the land aright. this is all becoming very very epic.

[myth as opposed to drama]


I agree.  I so hope it's Caroline.  

Please let this happen

Caroline being the new senator from New York would be magnificent. I'm so excited and hope this happens.

Al - One slightly OT Question...

You mention that it now appears the Emil Jones may appointed by Blagojevich as the "caretaker" of Obama's former Senate seat to avoid drama and rancor in the various Democratic factions in the state. Wouldn't this be counter to the reasons you stated earlier when Obama resigned his Senate seat, that this was done to give the replacement more seniority in the Senate? If a placeholder is put in place and then a new candidate is voted in in 2010, they would have a loss of seniority over the candidates just elected this term. What are your thoughts on this?

Three Moves Ahead



If this is really a part of the now legendary Obama "long view", playing chess three moves ahead, Well played, sir.

Another factor - $$$

Whoever is appointed by Paterson to fill the vacancy now, if s/he desires to continue in the position, s/he will have to campaign and win election in 2010 simply to fill out the final two years of Clinton's term, then immediately regird his/her loins for re-election in 2012.

New York has proven to be one of the most expensive states in which to mount a campaign.

If Caroline wants the seat, not only to act as placeholder until 2010, but to make the Senate her home thereafter, she will need to raise and spend vast amounts of money.

This seat is not suited for one either faint of heart regarding fundraising or lacking in personal financial resources.

enlightening diary

Caroline Kennedy taking this seat appealed to me on a gut level, but I have to say after your analysis, especially of Ted Kennedy's policy shop, and her inheriting that, it makes a ton of sense to me.  There's a lot to be said for the knowledge that folks carry round in their heads.

I wondered if you had any insight into how Chuck Schumer might view this, and if he has any weight,pull on this decision at all - both given that he's the senior senator from Ny and recently resigned chairman of the senate campaign?


KP Duty

Kennedy would also be an interesting foil for the notion of a "fresh face" should Palin decide on a 2012 bid. Better yet, if the scuttlebutt about Palin's eye on a 2010 Senate run ever came to pass, we would have days of humor with their comparative campaigns. And the contrast.

Caroline and John-John

Caroline was always the political genius in the JFK family, and it was known even when she was a teenager. In the family. John Jr. was not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but, Jesus, he was charming. I mean, elegantly charming, and incredibly kind to people, even the lowest around him. I used to fete with that crowd at one point in my life. (The early George Magazine years, and The Before Maria Shriver married Schwarzenegger years when she came up from Philly to party with those of us associated with the Public Theatre downtown.) He was as sweet as he was good-looking. [A testament to upbringing; Jackie did a great job.]

What John Jr. really was...was a fabulous actor. Enormous talent. Absolutely riveting on a stage. I am not alone in defining that talent; he blew people away. It showed up at Amherst while he was in high school, and he wanted to go to Hollywood. But his mother would have none of it, and forced him into the embarrassment of trying to pass the Bar exams five times while he worked for Morgenthal. Mrs. Onassis did not approve of Darryl Hannah, whom he lived with, as a mate. No actresses. George Magazine gave John Jr. the creativity he craved and needed, and access to the crowd he felt such an affinity for.

Caroline on the other hand was the cool calculator, with a law degree from Columbia. She was one of Ted's intern/assistants Al references in his article. And she's married to a genuinely interesting guy, an artist.


The Kennedy and Clinton tendencies in the Democratic Party are the exact same tendencies and it's silly to suggest otherwise - they're center-left, semi-hawkish on defense, progressive on domestic policy and failed (thus far) in a shared mission to bring about national healthcare.

Remember that the more progressive Kennedy wing - thbe RFKites - supported Hillary, and not half-heartedly - they backed her with full-throated support, and reinforced it after Uncle Teddy went with Obama.

This is pure revisionism - if anybody was "drama" it was Caroline's late brother (sadly) who embodied the drama motif, and before him, big Ted, who challenged a sitting president and broke his own party for half a generation.

Further, to suggest there's some kind of "opposition" in the Clinton camp to Caroline's candidacy based on a few Kos comments - when, Al, you've repeatedly rejected relying on such comments to prove anything - is weak.

It's weird that you're writing about supporting Caroline yet taking an almost totally unrelated shot at Bill and Hillary - it's like a phase shift, wackily out of context to me.

The Clinton formula = the Kennedy forumula, but Kennedy's are a generation ahead in their Democratic familial hegemony.

WNY Stands Up and Cheers!

As a weary NYer, sick to DEATH of the Clinton faction of the Democratic party....I am saying a little prayer that Attorney Kennedy truly is interested in this appointment, and that Gov. Patterson does the right thing and taps her. Seeing Caroline Kennedy as my new senator would be like seeing a light at the end of a very dark, very poor, very ignored WNY tunnel. I've always sorta wished I could have The Lion as MY senator.  This would be even better!


The "Kennedy" Wing of the party?

Characteristically for him, this is a thought-provoking post by Al.  And here's the thought it provokes from me:  I'm not sure that, in any meaningful way beyond networks of people, there is a "Kennedy wing" of the Democratic Party which is more liberal than a "Clinton wing".  Too much is made of left, right and center when it comes the Democratic Party:  What unites Democrats is paying attention to the lives and communities of real people, and taking public action to lift up the whole society -- rather than being mesmerized by party dogma that locks us into various fears and hatreds, as Republicans displayed again during the presidential campaign.  What President Kennedy represented was not some kind of canned liberalism (he was superficially criticized at the time, by the older generation of Adlai Stevenson lovers, for being too conservative).  He and his family and followers in the '60s were about far more than political labels; they  embodied an intelligent boldness about renewing American leadership -- in science, security through peace, civil rights, and all the other larger and liberating dimensions of our life together as Americans, and as human beings.  He incarnated the spirit of leadership.  I think that's what Teddy and Caroline Kennedy saw in Barack Obama.  And that's what's different from Bill Clinton's way of operating, which was to take existing political beliefs and invent a way of getting elected and surviving within them.  What was his vision?  A "bridge to the 21st century"?  Just what did that mean?  In the 1980's, Gary Hart (who had originally been propelled into political life by the example of the Kennedys) embodied that spirit of intelligent boldness, and it's unfortunate that his personal indiscretions forced him out of politics.  If, as expected, he'd been elected president in '88, Bill Clinton would have stayed in Arkansas.  But in January 2008, Gary Hart unhesitatingly endorsed Barack Obama.  He saw the same thing that Teddy saw:  This man will grasp the future.  He's not only about his own political success.  He's about our common success.

glimpse of steel...

I saw a glimpse of the steel of which Caroline Kennedy is made during the Tom Brokaw interview after the VP pick (I think it was Tom). She was asked in a sort of conspiratorial way about what "really" happened; how was the pick made; did Obama come up with the names or were they suggested to him, etc. Caroline, in her soft voice, said "If we didn't discuss it then, why would I talk about it now?" and she didn't. I've always admired her, but really loved that moment of grace and steel--and lack of drama! There was no opening left for further questioning. New York would be lucky to have her, as would we all.


Another class act

My hope is that Caroline Kennedy really wants this appointment. Wikipedia notes she served as an intern to her uncle - so she has been involved actively on that front line in her early years.

Never will I forget the January 27, 2008 NYT op-ed piece and her concluding lines: "I have never had a president who inspired me the way people tell me that my father inspired them. But for the first time, I believe I have found the man who could be that president — not just for me, but for a new generation of Americans."

I think Caroline Kennedy could be that woman who could inspire not just my older generation, but this generation and those to come.

Thanks Al for your insight. I hope David Patterson pursues appointing this unique and drama free Kennedy.


Everything I've read about Caroline Kennedy has been respectful and admiring. Its all been pretty general though and she's not obviously outstanding if you take the Kennedy trappings away. She played the hand she was dealt well, and it wasn't an easy hand. However she is a seriously rich woman, which I regard as a handicap comparable to not being a native speaker of the language of most of this country. She's gracious and kind-hearted, I think, but will that make her a good senator? No drama is good, but don't you need to be tough, calculating, assertive and a tireless courter to get things done in the senate?

Patterson hardball

As a New York stater, I hope it happens. It's perfect. For the state, and for Patterson, who gets a boost with his re-election efforts and cashes a chit for Obama to boot. I'm starting to think it's likely, given the way the discussions have been leaked with a positive spin by the Patterson camp. When Patterson is not into something or not happy with someone, he deals with it by having his aides blatently leak some kind of nasty story to the press. He did it to Bloomberg early on. Then to Spitzer. And most recently to throw cold water on Andrew Cuomo, who really wants the Senate gig. It's like Patterson's political equivalent of a fastball high to the head to brush opponents back from the plate. It's entertaining, to say the least. The fact that all signs from his camp have been positive about the Kennedy possibility lead me to believe it could very well happen.

Thanks again

This is very helpful, Al.  I am registered in NYC (living abroad), so she would be my senator.  I hadn't followed her story in adulthood, so I was puzzled by the suggestion that she would be appointed.  Everything you say makes sense.  I'm glad you're putting the word out, and I hope the MSM picks up more about what she's done to prepare people who otherwise would see it as a celebrity appointment.  I've always felt connected with her as she is only slightly older than I am.  (I think children feel a special connection to the children in the White House.)  Even so I just didn't know much more about her than her name, her family tragedies handled with impressive dignity and grace, and her work in education.  The network of Kennedy-aligned staffers is something I had no clue about and am glad to hear it.  The description of the rival wings of the Democratic party helps clarify things so much.  I do hope the governor chooses her. 

Where are the Kennedy & Chicago Appointments?

On a related topic, I've been surprised at the lack of appointments announced so far that show any connection to either Kennedy's patronage or the the Chicago Political machine.  Yes, you have Rahm Emanuel, and the scheduler, but almost no representation from the Kennedy wing.


This is surprising, given the breadth and depth of the folks associated with Ted Kennedy, as well as the critical boost that the family's support gave to Obama during the primary, when he was clearly and overmatched challenger to Hillary's coronation freight train.  I'm surprised at how many appointments have gone to folks with deep Clinton and DLC ties, and how few have gone elsewhere.  Perhaps this will be corrected for in future appointments and when other administration slots are filled further down the food chain. 



Melody Barnes

Jon - Incoming White House domestic policy czar Melody Barnes indeed comes out of the Kennedy organization. She worked six years on the Judiciary Committee staff when Ted Kennedy chaired it.

great post

crossing my fingers. she is the only one to make the different factions in NY shut up. it would be brilliant

The problem with swing state majority leaders.

Jed Lewison's Dec 5th post regarding Nevada politics and swing state majority leaders is one of those observations that is so obvious I wonder why I never thought of it before.  It helps explain why Reid presents so wishy washy and possibly why Nancy Pelosi, (California) often seems to take the media lead on explaining Democratic positions.  It looks like we might have a very exciting Senate shaping up.

With Brian Krolicki out of the picture, Nevada Republicans are without an obvious challenger to Harry Reid....

It’s always a bad idea to pick a majority leader from a swing state, but hopefully this indictment means that Reid can breathe a bit easier — and stop being so cautious.

Tendencies II

Tom W - Let's not forget this quotation:

"I have never had a president who inspired me the way people tell me that my father inspired them"

If Kennedy-Clinton tendencies were singing Kumbaya, words like that would not have been spoken aloud.

Great diary, thanks!

Intuitively, I have been thrilled by the news that Attorney Kennedy might go for the Senate seat, though had none of the background or detailed thinking to back up my hopeful feelings. Now you have filled it in nicely, Al, thanks! Now, let's just hope it happens...

I find Al's arguments persuasive; of course I wouldn't read The

Field daily if I did not usually find this to be so.

My first impression of this idea was Huh? when reading about it on Huffpost, TPM, etc.  I admit  that I am not from NY so am not aware of the politics there, so don't hold a terribly strong opinion one way or another (except for Carolyn Maloney - but that is another story).

I really abhor "celebrity" names cashing in to get Senate searts. Like Clinton parashuting into NY, like Matthews doing the same - or thinking about it - into PA. Last year we in Utah were treated to the prospect of one of the Romney brood running for the Senate here. Sigh, he would have won if anyone here was retiring (Hatch, Bennett).

But, reading Al's piece gives me the insight that Caroline Kennedy is actually from NY and has lived there a long time - thus a bit different than the fun examples above. Also, there is the insight that just because we haven't heard from her before, doesn't mean she isn't qualified.

So, thanks Al. Good food for thought.




as a NYer

my main concern is that whoever is appointed be able to hold the seat and that it strengthen David Paterson, who is doing a great job as Governor, in his (difficult) bid for re-election.

I don't know much about Caroline Kennedy (except that she had the good sense to endorse Obama) but she definitely would be the strongest candidate. The others mentioned all have significant liabilities. Carolyn Maloney is a known dimwit.. Any liberal from the city is going to have a tough race against, say, Peter King in 2010. Someone like Velazquez would have a tough time winning state-wide support; nor would she have an easy time putting together the funds for 2 huge state-wide races.

It would also drain funds from Paterson's re-election, as well as draining from his appeal. Unfortunately we just don't have that deep a pool of political talent here in NY, there is no next in line who would be able to have mass appeal immediately. 

What Alexa posted but also I am convinced that had JFK, Jr.

not died he, rather than HRC, would have been the junior US Senator from New York.  I believe that he was being groomed by the Democrats for that seat.

Personally, I like the Caroline Kennedy choice and the fact that  her cousin RFK, Jr. has confirmed that she expressed her interest to Gov. Paterson about the position leads me to believe that she will be seated.

"Anybody who underestimates Attorney Caroline Kennedy, who wants to view her as somehow lightweight or just a celebrity name inside a business suit, does so at the risk to his and her sense of reality. Her skill sets are not merely adequate, but, rather exceptional and extraordinary."


I'd like to see RFK, Jr. as EPA director or as Secretary of the Interior.

About Dear Leadersim

I was glad to see you comment about the "Dear Leaderism" criciticms  going on elsewhere.  One reason it's a pleasure to read your diaries, Al, is that you avoid the condescension of some other sites, where the readers are blatantly insulted whenever they express disagreement.


How come Obama's early supporters/surrogates and progressives

like Kerry, Sebelius, Kaine, Samantha Power are not finding any roles/posts in Obama admin ?


Thanks, Al As Usual...

Those of us who are "blessed" with totally Democratic/Liberal/Progressive families and live in totally Blue areas tend to forget there are "other" people out there!

I was "amazed" to be reminded last Spring that there are still a lot of Teddy Kennedy "haters" out there!

That said, as a follower of the Kennedys since I was a child, I was glad to find Al's brilliant take on Caroline as U.S. Senator from NY.

Another brilliant move by our 44th POTUS.

I also think Emil would be a good move for O's Senate seat. Not only does he "deserve" it for all of his years of IL work (IMHO), but that would give everyone else, including JJ Jr., in IL a chance to fight for it in 2010.

Plus, since most people in the country would think Caroline as a "celeb" appointment until they find out the hard way otherwise; JJ Jr. would really seem like another "celeb" appointment.

All in all, I repeat: I trust O and Al--two men who really know what they're doing and talking about (or not talking about!)...

BTW: O was brilliant on MTP today; catch it if you can.  I kept telling Tom Brokaw: "O's smarter than you, Tom!"


waterprise2 AKA Pam

Liberal with a Capital L!


Another No Drama pick - Shinseki

Thanks for this one. It really gave me a different perspective on a possible Caroline Kennedy pick.

One selection that was brilliant was Shinseki to run the VA. No one heard his name beforehand. There were no leaks. And it was clearly perfect, easily grasped as such after the announcement came out. To choose the person who told the truth before the invasion and paid the price from the Bushies to care for our wounded soldiers just said so much about Obama's expectatations of competence and strength.  And, once again, he has created a diverse cabinet without anyone looking like a token.

I like on Policy.

It'll be nice having 2 Senators who can spell Privacy.



Democrat for US Senate (Wisconsin 2012)


In response to Agoram, what's funny is when Kaine's name was floated as VP, it was shot down quite viciously by progressives on the web... Now he's supposedly one of the progressives Obama is neglecting?

Let me suggest that if he had appointed Kaine and Sebelius, there would be plenty of progressives complaining about them as well. Kerry was regularly denounced by progressives four years ago when he ran... and Samantha Powers (no left-winger she but whatever...) will certainly have a role if she wants one... I think so-called progressives like to complain...

Beautiful loser syndrome indeed.

I think most of his choices for the rest of the cabinet will be definitely on the intelligent liberal side of things... 

@ amk

Interesting question.

Could it be that some/all of the names you mention have either shared with Obama that they are not interested in serving in his cabinet, or have other personal goals?  Or that they have decided together with Obama that they can help him best by staying put where they are?

If you look at the Napolitano pick as an example, there is some downside to removing her from her governorship in terms of handing the state over to a Republican and taking McCain's strongest rival for the Senate out of play.

It's all part of the calculus of building a cabinet.

Allan - I don't know why these people would not want to

be in the cabinet/admin after slogging for Obama so much. If they did voluntarily pull-out, I wonder why.

Michael in NYC - Would you care to show the instances where the 'progressives as you derisively call them' were vicious in Kaine as veep candidate ? The same question for Sebelius, Kerry, Power et. al. Au contraire, many progressives were rooting for them for cabinet/admin positions.

So, asking genuine questions = beautiful loser syndrome, in your book ?


Some of the presumptions here are way too premature

AMK - Governors Kaine and Sebelius each have Lt. Governors who are registered Republicans. For them to leave their posts now would turn over their state governments to the rival party.

Kerry now has the chairmanship of the Senate Foreign Relations committee. In his area of passion and expertise, any post other than Secretary of State would be a demotion in terms of his ability to shape policy.

And I'm guessing you will see Samantha Power in the administration.

It's just irresponsible to make statements about the cabinet appointments overall when Obama has yet to appoint more than half its members.

And some of these folks - like Sebelius - may prefer to remain captains of their own destinies rather than subsume them to even a friend's agenda.

I mean, I was an earlier Obama backer than most, than two out of the four of the ones you mention, but it doesn't therefore follow that I'd want a job in his administration. Some of us value our independence.

I think you're reading far too much into stuff that really doesn't matter, not even to the names you've mentioned.

Thanks Al. That was the answer I was looking for. After all,

these names were quite famous till Nov 4th and I was just wondering why we don't hear much about them any more. That's all to it.


President Kennedy '16!

Works for me.

And can we finally go on record as saying that Jane Hamsher is nothing but a tiresome, contrarian belly-acher?


Crossposted to The Huffington Post



I was thinking after I read this about the primary field in 2016 on the Democratic side.  Can you imagine the first primary Democratic debate with Caroline Kennedy, Sebelius, Napolitano, Hillary Clinton and say lets throw in a token male - Cory Booker all lined up.  Wouldn't that be so cool?


Please. Hillary RAN A



The idea of handing the position of NY Senator to Ms. Kennedy is absurd. She has clearly chosen to stay of elective politics, and we should continue to honor her choice by not handing one of the highest positions of elective office to someone who has never sought it and who has no elective experience.

Professional Politicians

Anonymous - That you think this is about Senator Hillary Clinton is crazy and means you're not looking at the real issues here. She's going to be Secretary of State and rightfully has nothing to do with the choice for her successor. The law does not allow outgoing senators to pick the next in line. It gives that task, in NY, to the governor. Nor did my essay, which did critique Bill Clinton's ethics, offer any opinion, positive or negative, about Senator Clinton. That's a sideshow.

But your preference that the senate seat be appointed only to a professional politician is at odds with my own: we need citizen-legislators, not a professional class of them.

Somebody is going to be appointed (not elected, until 2010). That's the law. Which of the possible appointees can do more for New York than Caroline Kennedy? That is the main question that Governor Paterson will have to answer, and the answer is obvious to anybody that offers a clear-headed response.

I want to believe, but give me something more solid...

I hope you're right, Al.  But this article basically tells me, "Trust me, she's good, and she'll be good."  I do trust you, but I have to believe that, if you're right, you can give me something more.  Like at least a list of Caroline Kennedy's progressive policy attitudes that she might act on.

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About Al Giordano


Publisher, Narco News.

Reporting on the United States at The Field.

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