It took Caroline Kennedy to make me feel sorry for Andrew Cuomo. The latter is said to be “fuming” that Kennedy is stealing the limelight and may have the inside track for the open senate seat. Yes, he’s a “Cuomo,” to state the obvious. But aside from being the progeny of a famous pol, he ran for office, served in real jobs, and knows there is more to the state than Manhattan.
In short, he’s not a dabbler or mere socialite, but a real politician who knows a lot about federal and state issues and how to get things done (a quaint notion in the age of celebrity politics, I know). Some have risen to Kennedy’s defense, contending dynasties are nothing new in American politics. That’s true of course, but the distinction between Cuomo and Kennedy suggests this is a strawman. Yes, lots of politicians go into politics because of family connections. But it’s absurd to claim that Jeb Bush, for example, is nothing more than a legacy case and shouldn’t be a viable candidate — indeed the front runner — for Senate. And Cuomo certainly got into politics with help from his father. But in both cases people paid their dues, learned some nuts and bolts about policy and politics, and went before the voters. Even Hillary Clinton did that.
It will be interesting to see if Governor Paterson has the nerve to say “no” to Kennedy. On one hand, Cuomo would be a “safe” pick — obviously qualified and certainly electable in 2010. But these things have a certain momentum and one senses that Kennedy, despite her Katie Couric-like outing in upstate New York, has been gathering support and making it harder and harder for Paterson to rebuff her. It would, at this point, take a certain independence of mind and even courage to do that — qualities Paterson has yet to demonstrate.
And Cuomo? Well, he could always challenge Paterson for Governor in 2010. That would be sweet revenge.