Progressive Fail

by Brien Jackson

David Paterson has made his choice to replace Hillary Clinton in the Senate, and the winner is…a Blue Dog. I confesss, I’m mildly amused. The progressive blogosphere spent an awful lot of time arguing against Caroline Kennedy and the appointment process itself, and they get rewarded with a Blue Dog Senator for their efforts. But at the same time, I’m quite pissed about it all, because what this means is that the online progressive movement is still “led” by people who just don’t understand politics.

It was always clear that Paterson, for his own political reasons, wanted to pick a  minority or a female from upstate/Western New York who would owe him for the seat. In retrospect, Gillibrand is a pretty obvious candidate. And progressives should have been trying to prevent that from happening. It very well could have been prevented when Caroline Kennedy, and the political muscle behind her, began angling for the seat. But instead, progressives pressured him not to appoint Kennedy, without pushing any progressive alternatives. There were a couple of exceptions to this rule, but by and large they were pushing for Carolyn Maloney, who was never going to get considered. Not because she’s not a capable candidate, but because she chairs the House Subcomittee on Financial Institutions, and any Governor of New York would catch hell for giving up that position in Congress.

So, without any progressive support for a Kennedy-alternative, Paterson was free to wait Kennedy’s campaign out, let it collapse in on itself, and then fill the void with his first choice, the Blue Dog. It was masterful politics on Paterson’s part, but still, it was all made possible by the fact that there was no strong progressive hurdle to climb, because they campaigned against themselves, and torpedoed the only serious progressive in the running.

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