Tongues have been wagging since Wednesday about Caroline Kennedy’s “mysterious” midnight departure from the race to fill Hillary Clinton’s senate seat. Speculation and rumor run rampant as to what was behind the surprise move, and Kennedy’s “personal reasons” for ending her aggressive senate bid.
Some factions of Camp Kennedy and the New York Times initially tried to float the notion that Caroline dropped out due to her concern for Senator Edward Kennedy’s health. That, however, was swiftly refuted by sources close to Ted Kennedy, who himself was reportedly furious at any such reason being given.
Loosely translated, that’s the old lion roaring: “look, I might be sick, but I ain’t dead yet! Now cut out this nonsense and let me get some rest. I just had another seizure, for the love of Christ! Or hadn’t you heard?” (Well, actually, the whole world heard…being that it happened at President Obama’s inaugural luncheon, that one would be pretty hard to miss.)
Not surprisingly, a spokesman for Caroline Kennedy quickly got out there and told reporters that Caroline’s reason for ending her senate bid had absolutely, positively, nothing to do with Ted Kennedy’s cancer battle.
Allrightey, then! Glad we got that one straightened out. But if Ted’s illness isn’t the reason, what is?
Caroline refused to give an answer, but did say that she was getting sick and tired of all the “mudslinging” going on. (Hey, if you’ve ever tried to get mud stains out of a pricey designer dress, you understand why she’s steamed.)
But wait a minute…mudslingin‘? Who’s slinging mud on Caroline, and what for? And what the heck was being said?
Less than 24 hours after Kennedy’s sudden about-face, the New York press (particularly the Post, who broke this series of controversial stories) started throwing some curious little tidbits out there. No actual proof being offered, of course. (Like, zero. Got a document you’d care to share, Mr. Dicker? Or are you simply content to cast aspersions without a shred of evidence to back your borderline libelous claims?) Stories began to leak about the so-called “real” reasons for Caroline’s hasty retreat: did she “forget” to pay her taxes? Did she “overlook” the legal status of her nanny? Was she…(gasp!)…having an extramarital affair?
As it turns out, these leaks were flowing from the loose lips of some unnamed, anonymous source “close to Gov. Paterson.”
Political operatives who have worked with him over the years say that the “source close to the governor” is often Paterson. An aide to the governor says he “seriously doubts” that Paterson was the source of the Post’s story. Regardless, Kennedy’s camp was livid. “We know there’s no vetting issue,” one of her allies told New York Magazine. “I know what’s in the disclosure form, and up through Wednesday at three o’clock, there had been no discussion of a vetting issue, no complaints from the governor’s counsel. And for him to include the idea of a marital issue is beneath contempt. There’s no marital issue!”
Fred Dicker, the reporter who supposedly “has the inside dirt” on Kennedy, made the rounds of every TV news program on planet earth this week. Perhaps his most memorable appearance was on Fox News, where he got knocked around a bit by, of all people, Bill O’Reilly (whose hero, believe it or not, is former NY senator Robert F. Kennedy):
And from the left side of the political spectrum, Chris Matthews also questioned the source of this reporting, which reeks of outright character assassination (would that make the NY media accessories after the fact?):
SO SEZ `DA GUV
On Thursday, things got even uglier: Gov. Paterson himself took a swing at Caroline Kennedy at a private event the night before he tapped Kirsten Gillibrand for the Senate. (Well, hey, at least this time he had the cajones to say so himself, instead of sending one of his anonymous snarky minions to kneecap her). At the event, Paterson told guests Kennedy had been “nasty” to him and shown “disrespect” with how she bowed out, attendees told The New York Post.
The governor’s attack came just hours after his office issued a statement wishing her well and disavowing quotes from a that mysterious unnamed, anonymous “source close to him” who had told The Post Kennedy had never been in true contention for the seat and was “mired” in personal issues. (The taxes, the nanny, the rumors of infidelity, etc.)
Whew, those New York pols sure can play some dirty pool, can’t they? Blackmail, rumor-mongering and outright slander are the name of this game, folks. If you don’t kneel and kiss the Governor’s ring, you just might wake up to find a decapitated horse’s head in your bed the next morning. You may also find that people you thought were your friends are now acting like another part of the horse’s anatomy.
Although the Post’s reporting often leaves much to be desired, and the Caroline Kennedy drama is no exception, there was one editorial they ran this week which hit the nail right on the head. (And interestingly enough, we noticed it is penned by an anonymous writer, giving no byline.) The real issue here was not Caroline’s tax, nanny, or other rumored problems; it was Gov. Paterson, who clearly seems to have a leadership problem:
“If Gov. Paterson is so inept that he can’t arrange so simple a transaction as appointing someone to fill a vacant senate seat, what hope does New York state have of emerging intact from the fiscal crises now besetting it?
Make no mistake: Paterson’s endless procrastination on the matter of a Clinton succession – compounded by weeks of confusing, often contradictory signals regarding his intentions – created the circus that roiled Albany yesterday.
The governor is said to have told Kennedy last week that she was his choice – but that he was going to “keep the suspense up” by creating “a little misdirection” until he was ready to announce it.
That’s not leadership.
That’s incitement to anarchy. “
(Shazam! Whoever you are, Mr. or Mrs. Anonymous-Editorial-Writer, ya got that right!)
“This page endorsed the Kennedy candidacy – but we’ll be the first to admit that she is far from blameless in this affair.
She certainly should have given the governor’s staff a heads-up on potential personal problems early on, which she apparently failed to do.
And the way she handled her withdrawal – seesawing back and forth and then staying out of contact for hours – was almost as bizarre as Paterson’s behavior throughout the affair.
Still, that’s where the governor should have exercised leadership and brought the matter to a close.
But he didn’t.
Instead, firing from ambush hours after the candidacy expired, Paterson staffers made matters worse.
They alleged that the “personal” issues that forced her withdrawal were tax liabilities and a nanny problem – as well as growing questions from reporters about the state of her marriage.
No doubt getting that out there felt good. But what purpose did it serve?
The candidacy was dead, while Paterson comes off as petty as well as inept – and who knows how many people the governor is going to need to pass his budget were needlessly offended?
A lot, probably.
Meanwhile, Paterson says he’ll announce Clinton’s successor in Albany this afternoon – fully 55 days after learning of the vacancy. “
TAXATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION IS TYRANNY
Herein lies the real problem. Paterson’s vanity and publicity-seeking left the people of New York State (the people? Remember them, Guv? You know, the ones who will be deciding whether or not you get to keep your job?) without proper representation for 55 frickin’ days during the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.
Not to point out the obvious or anything, but New York City is the economic heart of America, Governor. And it’s having a major coronary. The crooks on Wall Street got away with murder (most of our bailout money, too) and left the people holding the bag (or the mortgage that isn’t even worth the paper it’s written on, as the case may be).
Heck of a time to leave the people of New York State out in the cold without full representation in the U.S. Senate. While you were out getting all the face time on tee-vee, rubbing elbows with celebrities, trying to stage-manage and prolong this soap opera for as long as possible to build up your own political name, Governor, we think you might have forgotten somebody…
Whatever his faults and/or crimes may be, at least the beseiged Blagojevich had the good sense to remember who put him in the governor’s seat in the first place — and that the people of Illinois deserved full representation. He did his legal duty by appointing Roland Burris to Obama’s vacant senate seat before Congress went back in session. When Harry Reid and other Democratic leaders tried to block Burris from taking his seat, they got smacked down and how!
In that case, the people sent a clear message to Congress: take your political catfight out to the parking lot where it belongs. Sit down and shut up, already. We The People have a constitutional right to representation. Furthermore, we demand it!
In New York, where the tax rate is one of the highest, most confiscatory in the land, and the local economy is sinking faster than a US Airways jet engine on the Hudson River, the people have every reason to be pissed off. They’re paying damn good money for the representation they deserve, and instead got pissed on. A steady golden shower for 55 days is what they got for their money, Governor, and they’ll no doubt put your ego in it’s proper place come 2010 when Caroline (or some other Kennedy, perhaps. Hello, RFK Jr.?) runs against you…and wins!
* DISCLAIMER: The opinions expressed in this editorial are solely those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. or the Kennedy family.