Ted Kennedy's Fall May Lift Caroline

Will Teddy's health influence Gov. Paterson's choice for senator?

The first of two blips during the Barack Obama Inauguration Jambaroo was the delay of Hillary Clinton's joining Obama's cabinet as Secretary of State.

Senator John Cornyn of Texas provided the sole voice of dissent, still haggling over the prospect of Bill Clinton tax chicanery, and that prompted an official recorded hand vote for Wednesday. The confirmation is presumed to be a formality, Clinton should be voted in by a wide margin.

One person outside of Texas who might appreciate the delay in Clinton's confirmation is Governor David Paterson, who has the sole responsibility for choosing Clinton's replacement once she officially vacates her seat as the junior senator from New York. Paterson has stated he will make his decision no later than Saturday, and until recently Caroline Kennedy was believed to be the favored candidate.

But with criticisms of her non-candidacy candidacy gaining momentum thanks to her inexperience and Palinesque levels of inarticulate rhetoric, Paterson appears to be going wobbly.

Particularly in the wake of the fresh Obama-air sweeping through the political scene, the family dynasty aspect of a Kennedy selection rubs many New Yorkers the wrong way.  Only a couple days after being promised "change you can believe in," the perception is that Paterson would immediately be acquiescing to old-guard politics.

As early as Monday Governor Paterson said he had "new thinking" that suggested he was reconsidering his options, or that he had taken a look at the latest opinion polls.

The following day he was reported as saying our Attorney General Andrew Cuomo was the only person under consideration who had been elected to state-wide office, a possible indicator of the tide shifting away from Ms. Kennedy.

But all this was before the second major blemish on the Obamanaugural, when Sen. Ted Kennedy had to be rushed to the hospital after suffering a seizure during the post-inaugural luncheon. The latest reports say the senator is perfectly fine now, but Slate is already speculating on how Teddy's health issues will help accelerate fund-raising for the Edward M. Kennedy Institute. All is fair in love, war, and politics; including the politicizing of a dying man to sway public opinion.

Now if Paterson chooses Kennedy, the scrutiny and questions regarding the effect of Ted Kennedy's health and stature (even Obama took a moment to honor "The Lion of the Senate") on Paterson's choice will be even more intense. No one wants to be the governor that knocks America's most famous political name out of business.

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