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The Rundown

4:30 p.m. ET: Now that the choice of Kirsten Gillibrand to succeed Hillary Clinton is official, we can put aside that whole Caroline Kennedy drama (right?) and focus on the soon-to-be newest senator.

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.

By Ben Pershing  |  January 23, 2009; 8:00 AM ET
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Please email us to report offensive comments.

There's no doubt that Caroline withdrew for the "personal" reason that she was told she wasn't going to get the job. We see it all the time in high-profile positions across the spectrum from politics to sports.

Posted by: darrellcochran | January 23, 2009 12:01 PM

Here we are still on the Caroline Kennedy story and still ignoring Eric Holder's skeletons. If Holder, the Attorney General nominee were a Republican he would be crucified for being paid big bucks to keep what was being called the "death drug", OxyContin, on the market. A man or woman with integrity and a conscience would have said, NO, I won't help you keep that drug on the market. It's killing people and ruining lives!" Eventually Purdue Pharma, marketer of the drug, and its executives were fined $634 million by the Bush Justice Department for marketing fraud related to OxyContin. Will one senator ask Holder about representing Purdue Pharma to keep the problems with OxyContin hidden?

Read the truth about Eric Holder from Mother Jones, one of our nation's most respected liberal publications. Published 1/14/09.

Why Eric Holder Represents What's Wrong with Washington. http://www.motherjones.com/mojoblog/archives/2009/01/11747_eric_holder_attorney_general_washington_sellout.html

Posted by: BothSides | January 23, 2009 12:46 PM

I am sorry for Caroline. It it sad that this competent woman, this working professional and successful fund raiser should have been encouraged to step up into the tough and competitive political arena. Clearly she has been uncomfortable in the previously avoided limelight . It is appalling that the simple fact of birth would influence people regarding the role Caroline Kennedy would play in this race for the senate. Why the necessity anyway to have a Kennedy, albeit reluctant, in the Senate? In a lack lustre and slightly incoherent interview she squirmed and displayed nothing of the political charisma, if you will, of her famous father. Indeed, she appeared weary and half hearted, a tired and droopy middle aged PTA mom instead of the vibrant, alert and polished go get 'em image we are accustomed to from our politicians. Her allusions to her "family" were tiresome and reeked of entitlement. Much criticism of Sarah Palin has been tossed around but in fairness clearly she has shown political ability , self-confidence and experience in her role as Governor,this cannot be disputed. Poor Caroline. One cannot modestly hide under a bushel and then suddenly emerge into the political daylight and expect to crowned queen in a day. For whatever their motives may have been, it was cruel of those individuals who chose to encourage her and set her up for failure in this doomed venture. Caroline Kennedy was by no stretch of the imagination politically equal to Hilary Clinton, but does she have to be? Hopefully she will pick up the pieces and continue with her life which up to this unfortunate episode must have been a happy and fulfilling one.

Posted by: elizabeth6 | January 23, 2009 1:15 PM

I love Caroline Kennedy. She is my peer (we were born one month apart). Although we've never met, I grew up with her. I've always admired her dignity and her accomplishments. I was thrilled to learn she was interested in Hillary's senate seat. Needless to say, I'm terribly disappointed she has withdrawn. So what if she says, "you know"? Is that any worse than the multitude of embarassments of our outgoing president George W Bush? I think it refreshing that Caroline is not a polished political operative. That should be seen as an asset, not a liability. Caroline, I hope you catch your breath after this and decide to run for something. You are too valuable a national asset not to. I would be honored to have you as my representative.

Posted by: dcdenizen | January 23, 2009 4:51 PM

My direct descendent was Jesus Christ so that make me qualified to be a Senator just like Caroline Kennedy is qualified because her father died of lead poisoning.

Well you know uh uh you know uh uh um well uh you know uh uh um well you know uh um.

Posted by: Sideswiped | January 23, 2009 5:23 PM

the truth will come out eventually but it was the gay's through their support of Rodham Clinton that provided the veto over Kennedy. They own New York.

Posted by: angriestdogintheworld | January 25, 2009 1:59 PM

What is the difference between a moderate Republican and a conservative one? When I first began voting, about 40 years ago, I was what was considered to be a moderate. I haven't changed many of those beliefs over the years, yet now I am considered a liberal. JMO, but moderate Republican is an oxymoron. The country and especially the GOP has moved so far to the right, when is corporate media going to start calling these right wingers radicals. Even a "conservative Democrat" is no longer a moderate when compared with the terms 40 years ago. I need someone to tell me how these people really differ and on what issues.

Posted by: lynettema | January 25, 2009 2:57 PM

I'm sorry Kennedy won't be my Senator, although for her sake I'm glad she's out of this mess.

As a New Yorker, and Democrat, I'm disgusted with Patterson, but furious at Schumer and Clinton. Their machinations will catch up with them

Not only are many of us determined to oust Gillibrand at the first opportunity (bloomberg's desire to keep guns away from cop-killers is actually quite popular with most of us), but many of us are praying someone, anyone, will go after Schumer's spot. I'd vote for almost anybody against him at this point. What a cynical selfish play he made. Disgusting.

Posted by: cecilyk | January 25, 2009 7:46 PM

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