Archive | January, 2009

Rumors of Caroline Kennedy Affair are FALSE

29 Jan

Caroline with her husband of 22 years, Ed Schlossberg 

Caroline with her husband of 22 years, Ed Schlossberg

 DON’T BELIEVE THE HYPE

The New York Post is reporting today that NY Times publisher Pinch Sulzburger has a new girlfriend…and it’s not Caroline Kennedy.

Yet more proof that Governor Paterson and his PR flack, former Bush White House deputy press secretary Judy Smith (you know, the one who spread these damaging rumors to the media after Caroline dropped her bid for Hillary Clinton’s senate seat – what was that all about, anyway?) just can’t stop lying.

Here’s the full story, from Page Six:

January 29, 2009 —

CAROLINE Kennedy is innocent – she did not have an affair with New York Times publisher Arthur “Pinch” Sulzberger Jr. The rumor that their friendship was the “marriage problem” referred to by aides to Gov. Paterson couldn’t be true – because the divorced Sulzberger already has a girlfriend.

Sulzberger has been seeing Helen Ward, a vivacious woman he met on a trek to Peru about a year ago.

“No comment,” Ward told Page Six yesterday, then added, “There is only one woman in Pinch Sulzberger’s life, and that is the Gray Lady.”

A Times spokeswoman said: “Mr. Sulzberger is not and never has been romantically involved with Ms. Kennedy.” What about Ward? “I’m not going to comment.”

Caroline Kennedy has been married to interactive designer Edwin Schlossberg since 1986. They have three children. Sulzberger – who became the Times’ publisher when his father, Arthur “Punch” Sulzberger Sr., stepped down in 1992 – has been separated from his wife of 33 years, Gail Gregg, since last March.

Helen is also separated from her husband, Kevin P. Ward, executive director of the Aspen Science Center. A friend said Ward is unhappy with the breakup: “Kevin is crazy bitter about the whole thing.”

The Pinch-Helen romance seems to disprove the speculation that flourished after Paterson’s camp leaked that Caroline had “a tax problem, a nanny problem and a marriage problem.” Bloggers erroneously named Sulzberger, who is friends with Caroline, as the cause of the “marriage problem.”

As it happens, Helen has her own Kennedy connection. The Wards were said to be close friends with Caroline’s late brother, John, going back to the days when John was dating Daryl Hannah, and they all went on a trip out West to go helicopter skiing.

Glad we got that nasty rumor cleared up! And now that the supposed “nanny problems” and “tax problems” stories have also been proven false, can we please leave Caroline Kennedy the hell alone?

Here’s a better idea.

Instead, why don’t We the Media instead focus our coverage on why Governor Paterson engaged in a pay-for-play scheme to sell Hillary Clinton’s senate seat off to Kirsten Gillibrand (with a little help from her friends, including her heavyweight “sugar daddy” Al D’Amato?) instead of simply giving it to Kennedy for free?

If you thought Blago was bad, get a load of this. Now here’s a scandal the media can really sink their teeth into! 

Curiously, they don’t seem to be very hungry for pay-to-play scandals anymore after feasting on Blogojevich for the past two months. And besides, Blago’s got much better hair. 

Or is the mainstream media ignoring this story because it hits just a little too close to home, happening as it is right in their own backyard of New York state? Or could it be because their mega-media-corp owners’ names might be found on the list of Paterson’s campaign contributors?

Hmmmm.

Advertisements

Pay-to-Play Scheme in NY Senate Seat Pick?

27 Jan
Senator-designate Kirsten Gillibrand (right) and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at a lunch meeting with New York Governor David Paterson at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City.

Senator-designate Kirsten Gillibrand (right) and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at a lunch meeting with New York Governor David Paterson at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City. Photo: Getty Images

BLAGO AIN’T GOT NUTHIN’ ON THIS

Ever since Caroline Kennedy mysteriously withdrew her name from consideration for Hillary Clinton’s former U.S. Senate seat last Wednesday night, and Governor David Paterson’s surprise pick of Kirsten Gilibrand on Friday, many have wondered aloud: who the heck is Kirsten Gillibrand, and why did a Democratic governor choose a relatively unknown upstate Blue Dog whose positions on key issues is more Republican than Democrat? 

Well, that’s a very good question to ask. Why did Paterson pick Gillibrand, when it seemed Kennedy was the obvious choice? And why did the Governor turn so nasty towards Caroline after she withdrew from the race? Why would he authorize one of his PR flacks (who, it turns out, is a former Bush White House staffer!) to “anonymously” kneecap Kennedy, spreading damaging stories to the press about Caroline’s supposed tax issues, nanny issues, and marital issues (stories Paterson now admits were totally false)?

The answer may not be in anything that Caroline did to piss off the Governor. It was what she didn’t do.

Here’s the REAL crux of the Paterson/Kennedy/Gillibrand senate seat story that the mainstream media won’t touch with a 10-foot pole…apparently becaue they’re all too busy flapping their lips about Blago and his really great hair:

Senate appointee Kirsten Gillibrand’ s former law firm is Boies, Schiller & Flexner.

David Boies, the senior partner at the firm, contributed $25,000 to Gov. Paterson’s campaign committee on December 23, 2008, while the governor was considering Gillibrand’s candidacy.

Boies’ son Chris, also a partner in the firm, contributed another $25,000 on the same day.

Source: The Village Voice (Jan. 22, 2009)

OK, go back and read that again. The timing of these campaign contributions reeks. Dec. 23, in the heat of the Senate seat competition?

Not TOO obvious, eh?

But wait…it gets better. Much, MUCH better. Read on.

THE MILLION-DOLLAR D’AMATO CONNECTION

This isn’t the first time Gov. Paterson’s engaged in a bit of pay for play and been called out. Less than two months after taking office, he had another little “issue” with a new hire in his press office, as reported by the New York Daily News’ Elizabeth Benjamin (who has been hot on the Governor’s heels over those nasty rumors he authorized his paid PR flack Judy Smith to leak “anonymously” about Caroline Kennedy).

Also, more info from the New York Times here on an “interesting” $3 million fundraiser Paterson held in December, while the senate seat contest was still hot. Check the guest list very, very carefully…

Then see this Village Voice article from Jan. 27, 2009 about the Paterson-Gillibrand-D’Amato connection, which reports that D’Amato gave Paterson a stunning $500k at a holiday party last year during the heat of the senate seat competition. That’s certainly enough money to buy D’Amato prime placement in the front row of Paterson’s press conference announcing Gillibrand as his senate pick…and perhaps it bought um….other things as well. (cough)

Here’s an excerpt from the Voice‘s investigative report which unravels the fascinating relationship between Gillibrand and D’Amato (it’s all in the family, baby!), and how the two came to be so strangely close to Governor Paterson:

“D’Amato wound up in the camera frame throughout the hour and a half press conference by design. Governor David Paterson’s staff kept the dignitaries in a holding room and walked them onto the stage in a prearranged order, positioning D’Amato at center stage, where his presence was a not-so-subtle advertisement of his influence with both the governor and the state’s new senator, a potential boon to Park Strategies, his multi-million dollar Washington and Albany lobbying business.

Gillibrand’s first job was as an intern for two summers in D’Amato’s senate office, and her father, Doug Rutnik, was so close to D’Amato that, while still married to Gillibrand’s mother, he covertly double-dated with the then single senator, squiring a D’Amato press aide on a two-week Caribbean tryst to celebrate the senator’s re-election in 1992…

…Because Rutnik’s ties to D’Amato, George Pataki, and the former GOP senate majority leader Joe Bruno are Albany legend, it was hardly a surprise that Gillibrand wanted D’Amato there. What no one could quite figure out is why Paterson did.

A Voice review, however, of two campaign finance committees–Paterson’s and the New York State Democratic Committee, which Paterson controls–reveals that D’Amato may be Paterson’s largest single fundraiser.

D’Amato hosted a $1,000-a-plate dinner for Paterson at the Coyote Grill in Island Park on November 2, and Paterson went to the Christmas party sponsored by D’Amato’s firm on December 10, and most of the $581,400 in contributions connected to D’Amato that the Voice has identified were given to Paterson’s committees near those two dates.”

YOU SAY TOMATO, I SAY D’AMATO

Now, let’s do the math, shall we?

More than $500,000 from the December holiday party, and at least $15,000 from the Coyote Grill fundraiser in November (based on an invitation list of 15 persons at $1,000 a plate), that’s a pretty good chunk of change, wouldn’t you say? And all of it raised by Uncle Al. No wonder he’s the governor’s new BFF!

While the $50,000 in contributions to Paterson from Gillibrand’s very close friends and former law partners on Dec. 23rd is not a huge amount in NY politics and is unlikely to buy anyone a state job, let alone a U.S. senate seat, more than half a million dollars from D’Amato should be enough to get *anybody’s* attention focused on Uncle Al’s longtime BFF Kirsten Gilibrand.

It certainly got Gov. Paterson’s attention. 

Hey, ya know, it may be cold and flu season in New York, but those figures are nothing to sneeze at. 

And these are just the suspicious contributions we know about. There may be even more yet to be revealed. But adding up the estimated $15,000 from D’Amato’s November fundraiser, plus the whopping $500,000 from D’Amato’s December fundraiser (both lowball estimates, by the way), plus the $50,000 given by Gillibrand’s former law partners David and Chris Boies on Dec. 23 — puts a ballpark figure of nearly $600,000 in Paterson’s war chest.

Add to THAT all the smaller contributions from individuals and businesses raised by D’Amato for Patterson prior to those two fall fundraisers mentioned above (detailed here in the Voice’s excellent investigative piece), you’re looking at a Grand Total of well over a million dollars.

Cha-Ching!

BLEEPIN’ GOLDEN

That being the case, wouldn’t this make Paterson look guilty of doing the exact same thing that Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich is currently being accused of? And favor-trading more blatantly than Blago would have ever dared? (Which is really sayin’ something, as Blago is anything but subtle!)

I can hear that phone call now:

PATERSON: “I’ve got this thing and it’s bleepin’ GOLDEN! I’m not just gonna give that bleepin’ senate seat away for nuthin’!”

At a press conference last month, noting that Blagojevich has been under investigation for years for pay-to-play corruption charges, U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald expressed his amazement that the activity would continue. “You might have thought in that environment, pay-to-play would have slowed down. The opposite happened. It sped up,” he said.

Apparently, no one warned Paterson to be careful since the heat was on. Or perhaps Paterson was warned and chose to arrogantly assume that he was ten feet tall and bulletproof. So far, Paterson seems to be. No one has even dared to raise a pay-to-play question regarding his senate pick…until now. So we’ll go ahead and ask a few questions:

Is it conceivable that Gov. Paterson got miffed at Caroline Kennedy because she was not willing to give him “anything but appreciation” for that Senate seat?

Could it be that Kennedy was too smart (and principled) to grease the Governor’s eager palms and potentially get herself embroiled in an explosive political corruption case? And did the Governor get pissed off because Caroline wisely stood her ground, held on to her integrity, and turned the other cheek?

CAROLINE WOULDN’T PLAY BALL

From our initial investigation, we can find no evidence of any campaign contributions given to Paterson by Kennedy or anyone connected with her.

Caroline is well-known for her avoidance of making financial contributions to New York Dems in local races, and this New York Daily News article from December 25, 2008 (curiously published just two days after friends of Gillibrand gave the Guv $50,000) flat-out states that Kennedy’s unwillingness to “play the game” may cost her the senate seat:

Caroline Kennedy‘s supporters say she could raise tons of money as a senator, but when it comes to writing checks to New York Democrats, she’s been largely AWOL.

This decade, other than a $1,000 donation to City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, the Camelot heiress has not financially supported any Democrat seeking city or state office in New York, records reveal.

Some say Kennedy, who is worth at least $100 million, missed an opportunity to curry favor among Democratic pols to establish herself as a serious political player as she lobbies Gov. Paterson for Hillary Clinton’s Senate seat.

NONE DARE CALL IT CORRUPTION

Starting to see what’s really going on here? Gillibrand was willing to pay-to-play (with a little help from her “sugar daddy” D’Amato) and Kennedy was not. A million-dollar payoff to the Guv’s campaign fund was cash she just wasn’t willing to pony, Macaroni.

Therefore, Gillibrand got the gig. It ain’t rocket science, folks. Just politics as usual.

Only difference this time is that the Governor of Illinois is being impeached for even suggesting (although not completing) such a transaction, while Paterson (who apparently did complete the transaction) is skating away like Tonya Harding. The local New York and national media plugs their ears and hums a tune, refusing to investigate any suggestion of Blago-type graft and corruption happening here. They hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil.

Thanks to the Kansas City Star for pointing out an issue that both the New York Post and New York Times heartily agree on — that NY governor David Paterson is now officially Worse than Blagojevich after the media circus that surrounded his naming a replacement for the Senate seat left vacant by Hillary Clinton. But still, that’s as far as the media is prepared to go. None dare call it corruption.

Hmmm…wonder if anyone has been tapping Paterson’s phone during this senate contest? They were certainly listening to Gov. Spitzer’s calls in an effort to catch him in a liason with a high-priced hooker. Seems to me the authorities might have wanted to keep an eye/ear on Gov. Paterson during this selection process, especially in light of the Blago scandal. Under those circumstances, a case could easily be made for probable cause.

So WHERE ARE THE PATERSON TAPES? And where’s the investigation? Where’s the outrage? Where’s the IMPEACHMENT?

Opinion: Caroline Kennedy Was Kneecapped!

25 Jan

nevermnd__opt1.jpg

MUDSLINGIN’

Tongues have been wagging since Wednesday about Caroline Kennedy’s “mysterious” midnight departure from the race to fill Hillary Clinton’s senate seat. Speculation and rumor are rampant as to what was behind the move, and Kennedy’s “personal reasons” for ending her aggressive senate bid.

Some factions of Camp Kennedy and the New York Times initially tried to float the notion that Caroline dropped out due to her concern for Senator Edward Kennedy’s health. That, however, was swiftly refuted by sources close to Ted Kennedy, who himself was reportedly furious at any such reason being given.

Loosely translated, that’s the old lion roaring: “look, I might be sick, but I ain’t dead yet! Now cut out this nonsense and let me get some rest. I just had another seizure, for the love of Christ! Or hadn’t you heard?” (Well, actually, the whole world heard…being that it happened at President Obama’s inaugural luncheon, that one would be pretty hard to miss.)

Not surprisingly, a spokesman for Caroline Kennedy quickly got out there and told reporters that Caroline’s reason for ending her senate bid had absolutely, positively, nothing to do with Ted Kennedy’s cancer battle.

Allrightey, then! Glad we got that one straightened out. But if Ted’s illness isn’t the reason, what is?

Caroline refused to give an answer, but did say that she was getting sick and tired of all the “mudslinging” going on. (Hey, if you’ve ever tried to get mud stains out of a pricey designer dress, you understand why she’s steamed.)

But wait a minute…mudslingin‘? Who’s slinging mud on Caroline, and what for? And what the heck was being said?

They said WHAT about my daughter?

"They said WHAT about my daughter?"

KNEECAPPED!

Less than 24 hours after Kennedy’s sudden about-face, the New York press (particularly the Post, who broke this series of controversial stories) started throwing some curious little tidbits out there. No actual proof being offered, of course. (Like, zero. Got a document you’d care to share, Mr. Dicker? Or are you simply content to cast aspersions without a shred of evidence to back your borderline libelous claims?) Stories began to leak about the so-called “real” reasons for Caroline’s hasty retreat: did she “forget” to pay her taxes? Did she “overlook” the legal status of her nanny? Was she…(gasp!)…having an extramarital affair?

As it turns out, these leaks were flowing from the loose lips of some unnamed, anonymous source “close to Gov. Paterson.”

Mmm-hmm.

Political operatives who have worked with him over the years say that the “source close to the governor” is often Paterson. An aide to the governor says he “seriously doubts” that Paterson was the source of the Post’s story. Regardless, Kennedy’s camp was livid. “We know there’s no vetting issue,” one of her allies told New York Magazine. “I know what’s in the disclosure form, and up through Wednesday at three o’clock, there had been no discussion of a vetting issue, no complaints from the governor’s counsel. And for him to include the idea of a marital issue is beneath contempt. There’s no marital issue!”

Fred Dicker, the reporter who supposedly “has the inside dirt” on Kennedy, made the rounds of every TV news program on planet earth this week. Perhaps his most memorable appearance was on Fox News, where he got knocked around a bit by, of all people, Bill O’Reilly (whose hero, believe it or not, is former NY senator Robert F. Kennedy):

And from the left side of the political spectrum, Chris Matthews also questioned the source of this reporting, which reeks of outright character assassination (would that make the NY media accessories after the fact?):

NOT-SO-SWEET CAROLINE?

SO SEZ `DA GUV

On Thursday, things got even uglier: Gov. Paterson himself took a swing at Caroline Kennedy at a private event the night before he tapped Kirsten Gillibrand for the Senate. (Well, hey, at least this time he had the cajones to say so himself, instead of sending one of his anonymous snarky minions to kneecap her). At the event, Paterson told guests Kennedy had been “nasty” to him and shown “disrespect” with how she bowed out, attendees told The New York Post.

The governor’s attack came just hours after his office issued a statement wishing her well and disavowing quotes from a that mysterious unnamed, anonymous “source close to him” who had told The Post Kennedy had never been in true contention for the seat and was “mired” in personal issues. (The taxes, the nanny, the rumors of infidelity, etc.)

Whew, those New York pols sure can play some dirty pool, can’t they? Blackmail, rumor-mongering and outright slander are the name of this game, folks. If you don’t kneel and kiss the Governor’s ring, you just might wake up to find a decapitated horse’s head in your bed the next morning. You may also find that people you thought were your friends are now acting like another part of the horse’s anatomy.

Although the Post’s reporting often leaves much to be desired, and the Caroline Kennedy drama is no exception, there was one editorial they ran this week which hit the nail right on the head. (And interestingly enough, we noticed it is penned by an anonymous writer, giving no byline.) The real issue here was not Caroline’s tax, nanny, or other rumored problems; it was Gov. Paterson, who clearly seems to have a leadership problem:

“If Gov. Paterson is so inept that he can’t arrange so simple a transaction as appointing someone to fill a vacant senate seat, what hope does New York state have of emerging intact from the fiscal crises now besetting it?

Make no mistake: Paterson’s endless procrastination on the matter of a Clinton succession – compounded by weeks of confusing, often contradictory signals regarding his intentions – created the circus that roiled Albany yesterday.

The governor is said to have told Kennedy last week that she was his choice – but that he was going to “keep the suspense up” by creating “a little misdirection” until he was ready to announce it.

That’s not leadership.

That’s incitement to anarchy. “

(Shazam! Whoever you are, Mr. or Mrs. Anonymous-Editorial-Writer, ya got that right!)

The Post Op-Ed continues:

“This page endorsed the Kennedy candidacy – but we’ll be the first to admit that she is far from blameless in this affair.

She certainly should have given the governor’s staff a heads-up on potential personal problems early on, which she apparently failed to do.

And the way she handled her withdrawal – seesawing back and forth and then staying out of contact for hours – was almost as bizarre as Paterson’s behavior throughout the affair.

Still, that’s where the governor should have exercised leadership and brought the matter to a close.

But he didn’t.

Instead, firing from ambush hours after the candidacy expired, Paterson staffers made matters worse.

They alleged that the “personal” issues that forced her withdrawal were tax liabilities and a nanny problem – as well as growing questions from reporters about the state of her marriage.

No doubt getting that out there felt good. But what purpose did it serve?

The candidacy was dead, while Paterson comes off as petty as well as inept – and who knows how many people the governor is going to need to pass his budget were needlessly offended?

A lot, probably.

Meanwhile, Paterson says he’ll announce Clinton’s successor in Albany this afternoon – fully 55 days after learning of the vacancy. “

TAXATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION IS TYRANNY

Herein lies the real problem. Paterson’s vanity and publicity-seeking left the people of New York State (the people? Remember them, Guv? You know, the ones who will be deciding whether or not you get to keep your job?) without proper representation for 55 frickin’ days during the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

Not to point out the obvious or anything, but New York City is the economic heart of America, Governor. And it’s having a major coronary. The crooks on Wall Street got away with murder (most of our bailout money, too) and left the people holding the bag (or the mortgage that isn’t even worth the paper it’s written on, as the case may be).

Heck of a time to leave the people of New York State out in the cold without full representation in the U.S. Senate. While you were out getting all the face time on tee-vee, rubbing elbows with celebrities, trying to stage-manage and prolong this soap opera for as long as possible to build up your own political name, Governor, we think you might have forgotten somebody…

The PEOPLE!!!!!!!

Whatever his faults and/or crimes may be, at least the beseiged Blagojevich had the good sense to remember who put him in the governor’s seat in the first place — and that the people of Illinois deserved full representation. He did his legal duty by appointing Roland Burris to Obama’s vacant senate seat before Congress went back in session. When Harry Reid and other Democratic leaders tried to block Burris from taking his seat, they got smacked down and how!

In that case, the people sent a clear message to Congress: take your political catfight out to the parking lot where it belongs. Sit down and shut up, already. We The People have a constitutional right to representation. Furthermore, we demand it!

In New York, where the tax rate is one of the highest, most confiscatory in the land, and the local economy is sinking faster than a US Airways jet engine on the Hudson River, the people have every reason to be pissed off. They’re paying damn good money for the representation they deserve, and instead got pissed on. A steady golden shower for 55 days is what they got for their money, Governor, and they’ll no doubt put your ego in it’s proper place come 2010 when Caroline (or some other Kennedy, perhaps. Hello, RFK Jr.?) runs against you…and wins!

In the meantime, Governor, you might want to steer clear of high-priced hookers and be really, really good to your wife. You know what they say about people in glass houses and stones, don’t you?

David Paterson married Michelle Paige in November 1992. <strong>Click for more photos of Michelle Paterson.</strong>

* DISCLAIMER: The opinions expressed in this editorial are solely those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. or the Kennedy family.

Why Did Caroline Drop Her Senate Bid?

22 Jan

“THE WHOLE FAMILY IS DISAPPOINTED”

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. appeared on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” today and did his best to explain the unexplainable — why his cousin Caroline suddenly dropped her campaign to replace Hillary Clinton in the United States Senate.

Kennedy didn’t have all the answers, however, as he said he hadn’t spoken to Caroline directly since her decision was made late last night.

And just as he had during his appearance on Fox’s “Your World With Neil Cavuto” program yesterday, RFK Jr. once again had to field questions about why he didn’t go for the senate seat once held by his father. Kennedy was also asked if Caroline’s withdrawn bid would be enough to make him reconsider.

Watch the video at MSNBC and find out the answer!

Surprise! Caroline’s Out of the Running for U.S. Senate

22 Jan

Caroline Kennedy withdraws U.S. Senate bid

HUH?

Late tonight, Caroline Kennedy confirmed that she was withdrawing from consideration for the vacant U.S. Senate seat in New York, startling the New York political world after weeks in which she was considered a top contender for the post.

Earlier today Kennedy called Gov. David Paterson, who will choose a successor to former Sen. Hillary Clinton, to inform him that she was no longer interested in the post.

Late tonight she issued this simple-but-puzzling one-sentence statement:

“I informed Gov. Paterson today that for personal reasons I am withdrawing my name from consideration for the United States Senate.”

And that was that!

A person told of her decision said that Kennedy’s concerns about the health of her uncle, Sen. Edward Kennedy, who suffers from brain cancer and was hospitalized after suffering a seizure Tuesday, prompted her to withdraw.

Others close to Kennedy felt that Sen. Kennedy’s deteriorating health, evidenced by his collapse yesterday, would all but force Gov. Paterson’s hand in appointing Caroline Kennedy to Hillary Clinton’s now-vacant senate seat.

Kennedy believed that the job was hers if she would accept it, the person said, but aides to Paterson would not comment on whether that was true.

Kennedy’s sudden withdrawl shocked the media pundits, who have been predicting her as a shoo-in for the seat. Apparently, they’re not the only ones who are stunned.

The news appeared to catch the governor off guard, throwing the Paterson administration into confusion and setting off conflicting news media reports. After frantic talks between the governor’s operation and Kennedy’s camp this evening, Kennedy appeared to waver on whether to withdraw, and was preparing a statement reasserting her interest in the job. But at about midnight, she decided to make clear she was taking her name out of consideration and released the statement saying so.

The timing is certainly curious, coming on the same day of Hillary Clinton’s confirmation as secretary of state. 

No further clarification was given as to the nature of Kennedy’s “personal reasons” for withdrawl, and she declined to be interviewed.

Kennedy’s surprise move comes nearly two months after she, along with several members of Congress and leading political officials, began lobbying the governor for the coveted Senate seat. She attracted relentless attention and was viewed by many as the most likely choice for Paterson, given her national stature and ties to the incoming Obama administration.

“I’m surprised, I’m very surprised,” said Assemblyman Keith L.T. Wright, a friend of the governor’s who met with Kennedy in his Harlem office. He added: “I had just met with her last week and she told me she was in and ready, willing and able.”

Kennedy had gained the support of some powerful backers in the state, including several labor officials and a top aide to Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Kevin Sheekey.

But her pursuit of the seat also set off resistance, with some local Democratic officials suggesting it smacked of entitlement, and polls showing voters preferring Attorney General Andrew Cuomo for the position.

Kennedy, 51, the daughter of President John F. Kennedy, has never served in public office.

In early December, her cousin, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., also withdrew his name for consideration. Many in New York political circles considered him the first (and perhaps most obvious) choice to fill the senate seat once held by his father. (Robert F. Kennedy was the junior senator from 1964 until his assassination in 1968.)

After so much heavy campaigning on Caroline’s part, tonight’s news is both shocking and disappointing to longtime Kennedy supporters. With Ted Kennedy’s terminal illness as a factor, it is apparent that he most likely will be unable to serve out the remainder of his term. Many of us desperately hoped to see another Kennedy in the United States Senate, be it RFK Jr. or Caroline, working for the people of New York state. Sadly, that’s not gonna happen.

Perhaps there is still hope, depending on who is chosen to fill Teddy’s seat in Massachusetts when that unfortunate time comes.

Sen. Kennedy Stricken During Inaugural Festivities

20 Jan
Sen. Kennedy was all smiles on the inaugural platform earlier in the day

Sen. Kennedy was all smiles on the inaugural platform this morning

Today’s joyous inaugural festivities were briefly (and sadly) interrupted when Senator Edward Kennedy fell victim to a seizure during a Congressional luncheon immediately following President Obama’s swearing-in ceremony.

Kennedy, who is suffering from incurable brain cancer, was seated next to Sen. Robert Byrd when he suddenly began to experience convulsions and had to be taken out on a stretcher.

Dr Edward Aulisi at the Washington Hospital Centre confirmed in a statement late this afternoon that Kennedy had suffered a seizure. “After testing, we believe the incident was brought on by simple fatigue,” he said.

Senator Kennedy is awake, talking with family and friends, and feeling well.”

The Massachusetts Democrat was awake and answering questions when he arrived at the hospital and was able to receive a phone call from President Obama. His wife, Vicki, and son Rep. Patrick Kennedy, D-R.I., were with him.

A few hours later, Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., visited Kennedy, 76, whom he said would remain overnight at the hospital. “He’s laughing and joking right now, he’s got all his Irish dander up,” he said.

As Kennedy’s condition became apparent to the luncheon guests, Obama, whose bid for president received a major boost a year ago when Kennedy endorsed him, left the head table and joined several of Kennedy’s closest Senate friends, who tended to him along with a medical staff.

After Kennedy, 76, was taken from the room, Obama told the assembled crowd of more than 200 of the nation’s most powerful politicians that Kennedy has been a “warrior for justice” in his 46-year career in the Senate. Obama noted that Kennedy helped pass landmark civil rights legislation in the 1960s that helped make Obama’s own ascent possible.

“I would be lying to you if I did not say that right now a part of me is with him,” Obama added. “And I think that’s true for all of us. This is a joyous time. But it’s also a sobering time. And my prayers are with him and his family.”

Teresa Heinz Kerry told reporters that her husband and Vicki Kennedy held the senator down to try to keep him from injuring himself before medical personnel arrived. Sen. Kerry said that Kennedy’s deteriorating health became of such concern that  Sen. Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.), 91 and in declining health, became despondent and left the room.

 Sen. Daniel Inouye, 84, who was sitting at the same table as Kennedy and Byrd, said he saw no warning signs before Kennedy’s seizure. “We were chatting away, he was in a happy mood, regaling us with jokes,” Inouye (D-Hawaii) said.

Medical personnel took Kennedy out in a wheelchair, into a room just off the floor of the House, where Kerry and  Sens. Christopher J. Dodd (D-Conn.) and  Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) gathered around and then helped him into the ambulance. The senators told reporters afterward that Kennedy was conscious the entire time and spoke to them.

“He gave me that Irish smile, so I think he’s going to be all right,” Hatch said.

Kennedy’s health has become an emotional touchstone for Democrats in recent months.

His tumor, a malignant glioma, is a common and often lethal form of brain cancer. It was discovered after a May 17 seizure at the family compound in Hyannis Port, Mass., on Cape Cod. The tumor is in his brain’s left parietal lobe, which is involved in speech, sensation and motor control.

After his June 2 surgery at Duke University Medical Center, Kennedy spent the summer and fall on Cape Cod while receiving treatments at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. He briefly returned to the chamber in early July to give Democrats a much-needed vote to pass Medicare pricing legislation. He received a standing ovation upon entering the chamber and, realizing the legislation was on the verge of being approved, nine Republicans switched their votes to side with Kennedy.

Kennedy made another surprise appearance in August, at the Democratic National Convention in Denver. Since Obama selected Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) as his secretary of state, members of the Kennedy clan have lobbied to have Kennedy’s niece, Caroline Kennedy, also an ardent Obama supporter, succeed Clinton in the Senate.

Medical experts have said most patients with malignant gliomas do not survive more than a year or two after diagnosis, although the operation may have been successful enough to add several years to that prognosis.

His friends said that Kennedy remained in good spirits yesterday, even as he was in obvious pain, making jokes to them and telling them not to fuss about it.

“When he bellows, he’s usually in pretty good shape,” Dodd said.

Clearly, even with his health so diminished, the Liberal Lion of the U.S. Senate was still roaring…even from his hospital bed. We admire Senator Kennedy for his insistence upon attending the inaugural (think anything could have kept him away?), even if he may not have been strong enough to do so. Most likely, all the excitement of this historic day proved too much for Teddy’s system and his body simply rebelled.

Kennedy is expected to be released from the hospiital tomorrow morning. We wish him Godspeed and all the best.

RFK Jr. Remembers JFK Inauguration

18 Jan

John F. Kennedy takes the oath of office, becoming our nations 35th president. January 20, 1961
John F. Kennedy takes the oath of office, becoming our nation’s 35th president. January 20, 1961

 

MEMORIES

On the eve of Barack Obama’s inauguration, the latest issue of Newsweek features recollections of inaugurals past from the likes of Rep. John Lewis, Ari Fleisher, Franklin Graham, and my personal favorite, Karl Rove (who recalls how his first night on the job was capped by a stern warning from a West Wing janitor to “respect the house” — he should have heeded this advice). 

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is also interviewed for the article. Here’s what he had to say:

“I was only 7 years old when my uncle became president, but I remember his Inauguration Day better than any other. He didn’t say anything to me that day; there were too many people all over, and they all wanted to talk to him. But our entire family was there to watch him. After the inaugural ceremony and the parade, we were allowed into the White House to see where my cousins would be living. We saw their bedrooms and explored the whole house. We ran through all the halls—outside to the pool and down to the basement and into the bowling alley. That was the first time we were in the house and, as little kids, it felt enormous. It was a really big place. As time went on, my uncle invited us back frequently, about once a month. When I was a few years older, I met with him—just us—in the Oval Office and he talked with me about my interest in the outdoors, about pollution and environmental issues of the time. At one point after that, he arranged for me to interview Stewart Udall, who was the secretary of the interior. To thank my uncle, the next time I went to the White House I brought him a salamander.”

…uh, well…there’s more to that story. For reasons that might be obvious, RFK Jr. left out the best part. So we’ll turn to a 2006 New York Times article to provide the punchline:

“One of Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s family mementos is a boyhood photo of himself in the Oval Office with his uncle President John F. Kennedy. Then 9, Mr. Kennedy — who is still known as Bobby — had just given the president a spotted salamander in a small vase. The salamander appears to be dead.

“He does not look well,” President Kennedy told Bobby as they observed the slimy pet. The president is prodding it with a pen, to no avail. “I was in denial,” Bobby Kennedy said, explaining that he had probably doomed the salamander by keeping it in chlorinated water.

Not to attach too much significance to a dead salamander, but, oh, what the heck: the photo distills some Bobby Kennedy essentials — his matter-of-fact presence in royal circles, his boyish chutzpah and a lifelong appreciation for animals (even those he has killed).

Now 52, Mr. Kennedy, is one of the country’s most prominent environmental lawyers and advocates. Clearly he was traumatized by his youthful act of environmental insensitivity and vowed as an adult to become a fervent protector of all the planet’s salamanders. Or perhaps this is overreaching, seeing too much in a simple picture. (Sometimes a dead salamander is just a dead salamander). “

Here’s that famous photo now:

“He does not look well”: Seven year-old Bobby Kennedy Jr. with his clearly amused Uncle Jack (and a very dead salamander) just two months after JFK’s Inauguration, March, 1961.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (and in fact, the entire Kennedy clan) will be in attendance Tuesday when Senator Barack Obama is sworn in as the nation’s 44th president. Joking with reporter Kris Jenner about a “Kennedy invasion” of D.C. next week, Bobby quipped: “I think there’s four million people who are going to be in Washington this weekend, and probably around half of them are Kennedys!”

Without a doubt, the Kennedy clan will have more influence in this White House than with any administration since JFK. Bobby Jr. will likely be a frequent guest in Obama’s Oval Office, engaging in private discussions with the president about the environment. This time though, we think he should probably leave the salamander at home.