New York Governor David Paterson is involved in a high stakes daisy petal pull game of ‘she loves me, he loves me not’ in Albany where he contemplates who will replace Hillary Clinton in the Senate. He is also wrestling with an enormous budget shortfall, residual fallout from replacing Governor ‘High-Priced Call Girl’ — a.k.a. Elliott Spitzer — and being on everybody’s speed-dial list with a pulse.
Those with ambitions of power and suggestions since Barack Obama announced the junior Senator from New York would serve as his Secretary of State have been very vocal in expressing their support. Paterson is under great pressure to resolve this issue ‘politically correctly’ for his own survival may be at stake. He is up for re-election in 2010.
It seems that no matter what choice he makes, he loses.
If he selects Andrew Cuomo — the experienced and efficient executive son of much-beloved former Governor Mario, who is also currently state Attorney General and former head of the Department of Housing and Urban Development under Bill Clinton — the Hillarista PUMAs (Party Unity My A**) still sore from the Democratic National Convention will come after him with both barrels blazing, calling him sexist for not replacing Hillary with a woman.
If he selects Caroline Kennedy — daughter of the late Camelot era President, successful publisher, businesswoman, mother, patriot, philanthropist, long-time quiet power broker and resident of New York City — the rest of the party attacks him for blatant nepotism, placing a political neophyte in one of the toughest Senate seats in the nation just because of her family name. Yes, this was a seat, once held by her Uncle Bobby and the failure to select her means the entire state of New York could face the wrath of Uncle Teddy, suffering from brain cancer, the Lion of the Senate, who wants to hand the mantle of power over to a family member.
So some days you wonder why Governor Paterson even thinks about getting out of bed.
This dilemma is why the media is now rife with the rumor about a ‘third way’ candidate. Former President Bill Clinton, a New York resident since leaving office in January of 2000, has been floated on a number of sources as someone who would solve the immediate problem and let the issue sort itself out in the special election in 2010.
Being in the Senate, far from precedent setting (Andrew Johnson served there after being President – indeed was impeached, too) would bring him close to politics again. There is no way he would be just the junior Senator, number 99 on the seniority list, from New York. People would still address him as Mr. President, he’d be the only one with a Secret Service detail, and his global clout would benefit New York, both a global city and a state.
[ad#travelocity-468x60]Friends and colleagues poo-poohed it when I first floated the idea a few days after Hillary’s selection. Now it provides perfect cover for Governor Paterson and keeps Bill busy. He’s already made tons of money. His charity will continue to grow. He can speak around the globe and earn large honoraria. As a part of the government he would be able to say he was there for the two biggest periods of economic success, stay out of (most) trouble, ensure his wife is elected in 2016, and go on to a long career in the Senate, if he wants to.
He can decide in a year if he likes the gig well enough to run in 2010 or move onto something else. Like the NFL draft, it gives Paterson the chance to legitimately select the best athlete available on the table and he comes out smelling like a rose.
Of course that nutty Hillary supporter who switched to McCain won’t be happy, but as Anna Maria Cox of Time magazine said on the Rachel Maddow Show, the moment the woman said Obama was an Arab and he had to take the microphone away from her and say, “no, he’s not,” was the “visible moment McCain stopped running for President because he realized this nut case was his base…”
Governor Patterson, Bill loves you and if you ask him nicely, he’ll solve a huge problem for you. Otherwise, hang the expense, I’d go with the flak jacket and food taster.
Denis Campbell is a US journalist based in the United Kingdom. He contributes to newspapers and magazines, is a BBC Radio election commentator and publishes the daily e-magazine The Vadimus Post from the Latin Quo Vadimus – where are we headed and do we know why?
Articles by Denis Campbell: