One thing we've learned already about Gillibrand is that she'sa moderate -- practically a Republican, to some liberal critics. Her stance on gun control puts her at odds with many New Yorkers, though residents of her upstate district probably agree with her a lot more than do those from the city. We've also learned that her dad has some ties to Joe Bruno, who just got indicted. Hard to see at this point how that would matter for Gillibrand, but you never know. This is New York, after all.
8 a.m. ET: Torture. Detainees. Gaza. Bank bailouts. These are the topics that have consumed the first days of the Obama administration and, frankly, they're kind of depressing. So let's talk about Caroline Kennedy.
In a period that has included the ongoing Coleman-Franken fight and the Burris-Blagojevich brouhaha, the Kennedy story has still managed to distinguish itself -- if only because it's been so confusing. Just as all the experts and everyone closely following this story totally did not predict, David Paterson decided last night to pick Kirsten Gillibrand, who just started her second term in the House and is relatively unknown, to succeed Hillary Clinton in the Senate. The decision came a day after Kennedy withdrew from consideration for the position, setting off an absolutely bizarre frenzy of anonymous backbiting and contradictory reporting by the New York media.
Kennedy pulled out either because of Edward Kennedy's seizure (Ted's people are not happy with that excuse), because of "tax and housekeeper" problems, because of some other personal problem or simply because she wasn't going to be picked. And Paterson either did or did not tell Kennedy that she definitely would or definitely wouldn't be chosen. All according to people "close" to the governor; either they're not really so close or, more likely, Paterson has an awful lot of trouble making up his mind.
Two main questions arise from this saga: Did Kennedy ever really want to be senator? And if this was how she handled her prospective candidacy -- with secrecy, skittishness and confusion -- what kind of senator would she have been? How would she have done in 2010, in a real campaign against a real opponent?
Speaking of which, the excitement's not over. Carolyn McCarthy, a House member who ardently supports gun control, threatened Thursday to run in the primary against the relatively moderate Gillibrand in 2010. What would President Obama do in such a scenario? And what about Hillary Clinton? With only the occasional exception, the party leadership usually rallies around incumbents. But this could well be one of those exceptions, particularly given the way Gillibrand is getting the seat. Hopefully we'll get some good, solid reporting to answer all those questions soon.
January 23, 2009; 8:00 AM ET
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