Wednesday Kennedy Blogging

Apparently this is going to be one of those topics you have to address daily.

While reading Dana Goldstein’s post on the matter over at TAPPED, it did occur to me that whomever is appointed to the seat is going to be among the very most junior members of the Democratic caucus, in a body where seniority means everything. To that extent, one “qualification” Kennedy certainly does bring to the table is the ability to trade on her name and her connections, most notably to the (next) President, which will give her more of an ability to exert influence on the larger body than any of the other candidates could possibly manage. That might seem trivial on the face of it, but New York is a big state with a lot of interest in what goes on in the Senate for a number of reasons, and it’s very important to a state like that to have representatives with as much influence as possible. Chuck Schumer is both fairly senior in the caucus and a member of the leadership team, and while being fairly low in the seniority ranks, Hillary Clinton was able to leverage her national profile to get more results than the average person in her position would be able to. Is that reason enough to put aside the unseemliness of it all? Maybe not, but it’s probably at least worth keeping it in mind when considering the state’s interests in the matter.

And while we’re on the subject, this article is really bad, even by Politico’s standards (or lack thereof). Leaving aside that it doesn’t even try to address the irony of the party of George W. Bush croning about “Democratic nepotism,” it’s biggest problem seems to be that it’s acting as if all of these instances are exactly the same situation, which is just absurd. For example, even if we concede that the Kennedy talk is totally without merit, that doesn’t really say anything at all about, say, Beau Biden. Biden has already held statewide office in Delaware, and he will not be appointed to the seat. If he wants to fill it after 2010, he’ll have to win a statewide election in Delaware to do so, and if the people of Delaware want him to represent them in the Senate, I don’t see how it’s anyone else’s business to tell them they can’t do that because his dad held the seat and will be the Vice-President of the United States. Similarly, the case of the Salazar brothers has a distinctly square peg feel to it. For one thing, they’re not father-son, or grandfather-grandson, they’re brothers. John was elected to the House the same year Ken was elected to the Senate, although I suppose you could argue he traded in on his brother’s two terms as Attorney General, but he held state level positions over the same tenure. Basically he has a political background of his own in the state, and it’s hard to say that either Salazar brother is where they are because of the other. It certainly seems, to me, that John Salazar may indeed be among the most qualified candidates to replace his brother in the Senate, and I think you’d have a much harder time arguing the opposite.

But the most galling example in the article is, surprise, how it treats Hillary Clinton. In noting her designation to head the State Department, Politico refers to her as “the wife of a former President” and…well nothing. That’s it. And obviously, when you frame it that way, it looks really bad. Who wants their Secretary of State picked on the basis of being the spouse of a former President? But of course that’s not all Hillary Clinton is by any means. She’s a Senator who sits on the Armed Services Committee, she’s a very prominent national, and international, political figure, and she was a trailblazing Presidential candidate who received somewhere between 15-20 million votes to be the Democratic nominee for President. In other words, she’s a qualified figure in her own right, and her marital status is secondary at this point. Of course, if you start pointing these things out, then you sort of erode all of this talk about nepotism and “dynastic politics,” and then reporters might have to talk about boring things like the economy once in a while.

And we wouldn’t want that.

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