Friday, January 30, 2009


While I deliberately chose to stay out of the intramural pissing match between lefty bloggers over Caroline Kennedy, now that Hillary Clinton’s former Senate seat has been filled by Kirsten Gillibrand, I couldn’t help notice some sharply contrasting assessments of her selection.

Consider Paul Begala’s glowing description of Gillibrand as a “star” and potential future female version of Barack Obama:
Listening to Gillibrand speak of how Hillary Clinton inspired her, I couldn't help but see parallels to Barack Obama. Our new president has described himself as part of the Joshua Generation -- the African American leaders who have come after pioneers like John Lewis, Rev. Jesse Jackson and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Perhaps Kirsten Gillibrand is part of the Joshua Generation of women leaders, inspired by Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi and so many others who blazed the trail Gillibrand is now following.
Then compare with Lawrence O’Donnell’s Huffington Post piece, where he raises questions about how Gillibrand’s political history actually meshes with Obama’s policy goals:
The accidental governor of New York ended his relentless daily display of incompetence in choosing a successor to Senator Hillary Clinton by offering this praise for his choice, Congresswoman Kirsten Gillibrand: "She also introduced legislation that would require that our federal budget be balanced annually.

Introducing "legislation that would require that our federal budget be balanced annually" is as childish as Congressional behavior can get. If Gillibrand had her way, Obama would have no tools to use to get us out of this recession/depression. Nor would we be able to continue paying soldiers in Iraq or buy the jet fuel to fly them home or enact any version of health care reform.

All the adults in Congress agree that we need a deficit-financed stimulus package--the Democrat v. Republican disagreements are only over the precise size and shape of the package. How long will it take Kirsten Gillibrand to grow up?
One thing is certain: at least one of these characterizations is complete spin! While it’s possible that the truth is somewhere in the middle, I think there are a couple of signs that one is on target and the other is complete BS.

One is what I’ll call the logic gap: Begala offers nothing to back up his assertions, except to say he's seen her impress both both city folks and cows (slight exaggeration!) In fact, Begala writes as if he’s filling out the word count around an opportunity to set forth how much Gillibrand admires Hillary Clinton. O’Donnell, on the other hand, makes a point that is consistent with nearly every credible economist and with observable economic facts.

The other is Begala’s history as a Clinton loyalist and operative, while O’Donnell’s history is one of a bold, controversial, and occasionally very prescient, truth-teller.

Although I was neutral throughout much of the drama surrounding Caroline Kennedy’s potential appointment, these two alternative views of Gillibrand have created the suspicion that Kennedy was attacked so viciously in the media because her appointment would somehow not be deferential enough to Hillary Clinton, and that Gillibrand is a very disappointing choice! (for additional reasons, see Al Giordano here)

1 comment:

  1. As for the attacks on Kennedy, I am still scratching my head over the intensity of some of them; most notably those from Jane Hamsher, who seemed as if she saw little difference between Caroline Kennedy and Joe Lieberman!

    Until I hear a better explanation for the depth of her vitriol, I can't help but wonder if it was the result of some sort of back door payola by the Clinton machine to Firedoglake.