Jan 26 2009

Anyone who has read this blog over the last weeks knows that I had been a strong supporter of Caroline Kennedy to occupy the seat being vacated by Secretary of State Clinton. For over 40 years the seat has been held by some of the most distinguished and powerful people in American politics - Senator Robert Kennedy, Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan and Senator Hillary Clinton - each of them legends in their own right. What an honor it is to be appointed to succeed these American giants.

But Governor David Paterson of New York this week downgraded the seat to coach class.

Home_photo_0123091 In the process of appointing Congresswomen Kirsten E. Gillibrand, the Governor showed an enormous and totally unnecessary lack of grace and compassion for Caroline Kennedy. What was he thinking? When Ms Kennedy decided to withdraw, I was clearly disappointed but understood and honored her personal reasons. I didn't need to know what those reasons were since it is none of my business. She withdrew with dignity and in a way to leave the governor a clear field without burdening him.

For some totally crazy reason, instead of issuing a simple statement of how much they admire and appreciate Ms. Kennedy's contributions, intellect and service over the years, the people near the governor decided to engage in a total smear campaign. With a unconscionable lack of respect for her work over the years, they decided to throw everything at her including her husband, kids, family, taxes, nannies and her personality. None which were the reason for her withdrawal. Will someone please explain to me why they felt it was necessary to lie, attack and smear this gracious woman? What possibly could have been the benefit for the governor? This entire process only has diminished the Paterson and he clearly has a lot of ground to make up politically.

Now Congresswoman Gillibrand, up to her appointment, has had one of the more conservative records of any Congressional Democrat from New York especially when it comes to guns, choice and gays. Now after her appointment she has changed these positions and I am thrilled she has done so. After all, isn't the political process about changing people's minds and creating new alliances? Now I have to say, changing so many opinions overnight does makes me nervous, but at this stage I will give her the benefit of the doubt.

The good news is because of the astounding work of the Empire State Pride Agenda (ESPA), Gillibrand becomes the first New York Senator to support fully marriage equality. I can't wait for Senator Chuck Schumer to join her. I know that ESPA will make sure her words are met by real action and if not, the organization will report back to us. Gillibrand, descendant from a long line of hunters, has also indicated that she is willing to review her strong pro-gun stance with leading gun control advocates. Here is hoping that this is a lasting and important step forward.