New York Governor David Patterson has a difficult decision to make in choosing a replacement for Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton. Senator Clinton was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on Wednesday, January 21st, sworn in and assumes the position of Secretary of State. As a former volunteer, supporter and fundraiser for then Governor Bill Clinton’s Presidential Campaign in 1992, I applaud her selection and confirmation to assume this rather significant and important role in American Government, especially in these strange and uncertain times. Truth told since working and voting for President Clinton, my support of the Clinton’s has been tested. I have wavered in my trust of their joint political aims and for me questions about them remain. So many questionable things have transpired since the 1990’s that I find it hard to give my unequivocal blind support to anything Clinton or any politician for that matter. I know that I am not alone. In this election cycle, while most of my family supported Hillary Clinton, I personally supported Barack Obama, not because I was certain he would win, but because in my heart and mind I knew that he was the right man at this time. President Obama’s ability to rise over petty political disputes to select Senator Clinton as his Secretary of State confirmed my trust in Obama’s Executive decision making. In many respects, Senator Clinton appears quite well suited to be Secretary of State. Hillary has a powerful intellect, is an excellent strategic thinker and her time as First Lady not only made her an Ambassador to the world at large but the consummate government insider, to a degree that is positively spooky!. Let’s be clear, from the KGB to the CIA and global organized criminal elements, we live in a crazy world of spooks where powerful people are not always who and what they seem to be, so perhaps it is not too strange a concept for America to have some positively compelling brains on our side as well. Hillary Clinton will thrive in the position of Secretary of State. And while many will disagree, I do not believe Hillaryâ€™s Presidential opportunities have expired.
Today, however, Governor Patterson’s decision was made a little less or more complicated depending on your political perspective, when Caroline Kennedy, who by most mainstream media accounts was the presumed leading candidate with the inside track to secure the appointment to fill for Hillary’s U.S. Senate seat, as reported by the New York Times, dropped out from consideration. But the Associated Press and others then reported otherwise, that Caroline Kennedy did not drop out. After midnight The NY Daily News reported that Caroline Kennedy officially dropped out. Attorney General Andrew Cuomo was in the unenviable position of wanting to be considered but not wanting to lobby against a Kennedy, even though polls show that Andrew Cuomo is the preferred candidate of most New York voters to replace Hillary Clinton. Outside Manhattan Society’s cocktail circuit, an informal poll of family, friends and leading Democrats in Brooklyn, the Bronx and Queens shows Andrew Cuomo draws considerable strengths where Caroline is somewhat of an unknown and would be relying on the Kennedy brand. But this is New York and the Cuomo brand is not exactly chopped liver either. Notably, Caroline Kennedy’s support of President Barack Obama during the Democratic primary battle gives her a powerful friend with a level of access that would be helpful to New York.
The Kennedy and Cuomo clans have and continue to serve New York well. Despite the critique that Caroline’s record has received from some in the mainstream media, she has been a reserved and private but nevertheless remarkable citizen. The high profile divorce of Caroline Kennedy’s cousin, Kerry Kennedy from Andrew Cuomo has certainly created some tension between two prominent Democratic political families, but not for me. I choose to love and respect both the Kennedy and Cuomo families for their respective contributions to the lives of Americans and New York citizens in particular. Two of my heroes are former New York Governor Mario Cuomo and Senator Robert F. Kennedy.
The Kennedy family has suffered immeasurable tragedy and been subjected to an unprecedented level of public scrutiny. Caroline Kennedy’s record has been scrutinized and she personally critiqued for her private nature and her suitability to assume Hillary’s Senate questioned. The critiques have not resonated with me, because under the circumstances, Caroline has every right to be a little more withdrawn and distrustful of those who want her to be more public.
Long before I picked up a camera to photograph society or began to blog, I encountered Sweet Caroline’s brother JFK, Jr. several times on the streets of New York City, from the Upper East Side to Tribeca, either on his bicycle or on foot. He always gave a look, smiled pleasantly and twice said hello as if to acknowledge that I respectfully noticed him but did not seek to invade his space. When he launched George Magazine, like many I was impressed, impressed from the perspective that he chose to analyze politics in America. Mind you, I had no personal knowledge or understanding of John Johns mindset, was not a confidante, friend nor could I claim any special relationship with him, my limited interactions and my observation of him in the media made me see that this guy had “IT”— leadership combined with genuine interpersonal skills. Unless you were insecure or resentful person, he was the kind of guy you wanted to like. I hoped that it was simply a matter of time before he would campaign for political office. When JFK, Jr.’s plane went down over Marthas Vineyard, for some reason it really disturbed me deeply and made some of the more dangerous explanations, almost seem plausible. The world lost a special soul when JFK, Jr. died. Caroline Kennedy does not need to explain to me why she is a private and somewhat more reclusive citizen. What she brings to the table as a humanitarian, her intellect and perspective are sufficient for me to support her appointment, even if I respect Andrew Cuomo’s qualifications equally, if not more so. It is an embarrassment of riches that New Yorkers could get a Kennedy or a Cuomo.
Andrew Cuomo, appears to be the right man with the right resume at the right time. He and his family have a history of service to New Yorkers, he was elected to the office of Attorney General and has spent time working in Washington, DC as HUD Secretary in the Clinton Administration. Furthermore, he and his family have high profile relationships and they fundamentally understand the business of government. If Andrew is able to become even half the politician that was his father, Mario Cuomo, then New Yorkers will be well served.
Notably as reported by Elizabeth Benjamin of the NY Daily News. In bidding a fond farewell to New York’s departing junior senator, Hillary Clinton, at his reception last night, Gov. David Paterson seemed to bemoan the fact that he’s having so much trouble settling on her replacement. Governor Patterson was quoted:
“It will be the first time that an individual who is from a class of people who came to this country in chains, will now help to set it free, when we swear in President Barack Obama,” Paterson said.
“So in the midst of all the firsts we would like to celebrate a last. This is the last time that one of the all time favorite public officials in New York will see us as senator of our state.”
“But like so many events in her career, a last has only been a prelude to another first. She will distinguish herself and this country when she is confirmed on Wednesday as the United States secretary of state.”
“Never, in my opinion, in American history, has an individual who ran for office in 2000, and was questioned about the capabilities, ascended to such an extent that we can’t even find an apt replacement.”
With all due respect to Governor Patterson and the ascension of Hillary Clinton’s political career from First Lady to NY Senator and now Secretary of State, nobody has yet permanently filled Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s shoes. New York needs a Senator who will fight and battle for New York and for whom this position is not a stepping stone to higher office. New York’s next Senator would do well to follow in the footsteps of Moynihan or Senator Chuck Schumer for that matter. Governor Patterson needs however to have a very strong Democratic ticket in 2010. Support from the Obama White House and City Hall wouldn’t hurt either. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the Cuomo family in New York city campaigning for a Democratic Ticket of Andrew Cuomo for U.S. Senate and Governor Patterson would be a significant force as well. Surely, it must be a difficult decision. But then again, there is the woman’s vote and the rest of New York State, outside New York City, which is the reason why some believe the dark horse could be Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand