Not since Gov. Mario Cuomo chartered two planes to ferry him to New Hampshire to launch a presumed presidential bid -- but left the aircraft idling and unused on a runway at the Albany airport -- has New York experienced such an episode of politics interruptis.
I’m talking, of course, about the sudden withdrawal of Caroline Kennedy from the competition to be appointed to the U.S. Senate seat that’s just been vacated by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. In a chaotic yes-I-will, no-I-won’t back and forth that kept the media, and Gov. David Paterson, guessing about her intentions through Wednesday night and into the early morning on Thursday, JFK’s daughter ended, at least for now, her awkward effort at gaining public office.
New York is a breeding ground for colorful and forceful political personalities (think Cuomo, Rudy Giuliani, Chuck Schumer, Al D’Amato, Ed Koch -- and lest we forget, Eliot Spitzer!). It is not known to embrace shrinking violets. Yet Kennedy through most of her adult life shunned the rough-and-tumble of electoral politics. She was immediately bruised when she tried to prove herself in a tour upstate that was less than inspiring to voters in that perpetually aggrieved region. Then she faltered in a series of media interviews.
There’s no telling whether this clumsy start would have cost her the Senate appointment -- only Paterson knows for sure. But Kennedy may have learned her first New York political lesson: It’s no place for amateurs.
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