Friday, January 02, 2009

Caroline Kennedy, Obama and the Senate Seat

Governor Paterson apparently is still on track to appoint Caroline Kennedy to take Hillary Clinton's place in the U.S. Senate, despite her awful performance in a several interviews, with her now infamous "you knows." And I have to say, even though I've been quite critical on the show of the appointment because I don't like the idea of dynastic rule nor someone literally being handed a senate seat by virtue of her genes, I'm getting used to the idea and think it actually might be best.

First off, the "you knows" didn't bother me that much. As a talk show host who spends four hours on the radio, I've been chastised all too often for too many "you knows," "umms" and similar repetitions. That quirk is not a reflection of her intelligence or experience, just a a bad speech pattern that can be altered with practice.

I'm glad that Paterson interviewed Danny O'Donnell, and I'd love to see Rosie's brother become the first openly gay U.S. senator, but even O'Donnell says this is a long shot. I guess I'm thinking more as a New Yorker and as gay activist when I say Kennedy could be very good in that, right now, in this economic crisis, New York City would do well to be represented by a U.S. senator to whom the president owes a lot and who is on very close terms with the president.

This goes for the issue of marriage equality. We've now seen, with the Rick Warren controversy, how Obama operates and how he'll too quickly dump on gays. Caroline Kennedy would not only be one of a small handful of senators who support marriage for gays and lesbians but she would be one of an even smaller group -- that, as far as I can tell, only includes her ailing uncle, Ted Kennedy -- who is very close to Obama and also supports full marriage rights for gays. She could influence him to change his mind (or rather, public position) on that issue, perhaps, and she could be pressured to speak out when he pulls Rick Warren-like scenarios -- if she did, it would go further than perhaps any other senator speaking up. And perhaps she'll be open to gay activists in this regard. She'll certainly need and want the LGBT vote to win an election. And of course, if we don't like her, we can always vote her out when she has to run to finish the term in 2010. I know, I know -- that will be harder to do. Anyway, discuss.