Caroline Kennedy

David Patterson's Chatastrophic January

David Patterson may have ruined his political future this month, not to mention put a Democratic US Senate seat at risk in the 2010 election. I can't re-hash the entire story. But I can offer some highlights and reactions.

Let's begin with an event that the vat majority of NY State residents have forgotten - the governor's State of the State speech. According to insiders, the Governor spent over 60 hours writing and memorizing the speech, which the governor later confirmed. After it received mainly bad reviews, the governor publicly stated that he was ill the day he delivered the speech.

Allow me to put-aside the poor judgement and lack of politician-grade speaking skills ('you know') of Caroline Kennedy. And I'll put-aside the governor's selection of Congresswoman Kristen Gillibrand.

Here's just a sample from the mainstream NY press on how Patterson's month began with a forgettable speech and ended with him putting both a Democratic Senate seat and his own tenure as Governor at risk.

NY Daily News: Caroline Kennedy was in over her head, but Gov. David Paterson crew stoops low

If Paterson looks indecisive, he has no one to blame but himself. Within a single seven-hour span, he told reporters in Washington he had a "good idea" who he would pick, then told Katie Couric he was "not totally sure," then assured one contender he had not made up his mind.

Paterson's brain trust didn't think to circulate a 28-page questionnaire to the candidates until early January. Later, though, the governor admitted he had not read the answers.

He refused to share a blank copy of the form with the public. Yet when a world-famous candidate filled one out, her sensitive answers got to the press.

NY Daily News:
Paterson was turned off when Kennedy first called him and asked if she "could" be considered for the seat.

By asking if she could, rather than saying she wanted to be considered, Paterson immediately felt she wasn't really interested, the source said.

In meetings, the governor and his aides decided she had no political depth, the source said.

NY Times (registration required): In Selection Mess, Paterson Dug Hole Deeper
In the aftermath, many top Democrats and even friends of Mr. Paterson see his governorship as reeling and troublingly disorganized. They believed that this was to be his defining year, one in which he could move beyond the unusual circumstances of his ascension to high office and prove he could lead the state through a perilous fiscal crisis.

Some were unusually open in questioning the approach — and judgment — of the governor and the people around him.

Paterson said that Kennedy had called him to say she was having second thoughts and "he asked her to wait a day and he thought she had agreed," another attendee recalled.

Then, he said, he couldn't get her on the phone for hours.

"He was absolutely frustrated that he couldn't reach her," the guest said of how Paterson described the scene. "He thought maybe she was sick. He felt she was being nasty to him, that she showed great disrespect."

Miscommunication happens at all levels in this advanced electronic age. But in retrospect, if Governor Patterson needed to track-down Ms. Kennedy at a critical time, he had several options and resources available to him. He has staff in New York City who could have tracked her down. He knew her address. He even has a private train that can transport him to Penn Station in just over 2 hours. For him to be upset that he couldn't call her back, then make his selection anyway, and then allow his staff to insult Ms. Kennedy as the process came to a close is simply unacceptable, and may surely cost the governor his first formal bid for election in November 2010. For a man who has a reputation of being professional, humorous, and fair, this month has shown us a David Patterson who has been anything but.

Caroline In The City

I'll give Caroline Kennedy credit for her first, genuine, ad-hoc press conference on 125th Street today. But I have to say it - she did not explain why she wants Hillary's Senate seat, or what she has to offer other than a reliable Democratic vote in-line with Charles Schumer. In fact, she is rather flat when she's unscripted. Can you count the number of caution flags in these comments?

"I come at this as a mother, as a lawyer, as an author, as an education advocate and from a family that really has spent generations in public service."
"I feel this commitment, and this is a time when nobody can afford to sit out. And I hope that I have something to offer."
"I have, you know, quite a lot to learn, but I feel like I bring a lot with me, as well."
I think I speak for many Democrats when I say that we need more than a legacy who brings only her vote and her ability to do fundraising. I also think it is safe to say that Caroline Kennedy is not a politician. She raises money for good causes, and she sits on the boards of various non-profits. But she hasn't had a full-time job as a lawyer in years. Hillary was similar, but at least she was elected to the Senate. Kennedy is asking to be appointed. To appoint a non-politician to the US Senate would be a risky move.

And assuming that Rudy Giuliani will be the Republican nominee for the seat is a mistake. He's happy on the speech circut as his political career is over.