Commentary Magazine


Lawrence of Absurdia

Itinerant actor and political analyst Lawrence O’Donnell is none too pleased with New York Governor David Paterson’s appointing Congresswoman Kirsten Gillibrand to fill Hillary Clinton’s vacant Senate Seat, thus passing over O’Donnell’s personal friend Caroline Kennedy. Here’s what he told The New Yorker this week, displaying a coastal contempt for rural Americans that is beyond parody:

“Paterson has no comprehension of upstate New York, absolutely none, and has chosen someone better at representing cows than people,” Lawrence O’Donnell says. “What you have is the daughter of a lobbyist, instead of the daughter of a former President or the son of a former governor. This is the hack world producing the hack result that the hacks are happy with.”

There’s a lot to unpack in this statement, including the remark that Gillibrand is “better at representing cows than people.” What exactly does that mean? That Gillirand is herself bovine in appearance, or such a rural hick that she identifies more with cows than fellow humans? More importantly, how is Gillibrand — yes, the daughter of a lobbyist — any more of the “hack world” than Caroline Kennedy, scion of the…Kennedys? Apparently if you come from a liberal political dynasty that’s the closest thing we have in this country to landed gentry you get spared criticism for being a “hack,” although that’s exactly what the Kennedy machine continues to produce. But for liberals of the Lawrence O’Donnell type, the Kennedy Mystique™ precludes this sort of language, which is then easily applied to less-romantic Reagan Democrats.

O’Donnell has launched a personal war against Paterson since he made his decision. Here he is typing away furiously at the Huffington Post, referring to his new-found nemesis as the “accidental governor.” But if this is an accurate descriptor for Paterson, what exactly would that have made “Senator” Caroline Kennedy, whose privileged station in life — the only reason why she was ever considered for the Senate appointment in the first place — is due to her select membership in the lucky egg club?