What a brave new world we really do live in, where formerly obscure African American political figures decide the fates of wealthy scions of former presidents—or maybe not. Announcing Thursday morning that she has withdrawn her name from consideration for appointment to fill New York’s vacant U.S. Senate seat, Caroline Kennedy has surely spared herself a sizeable helping of controversy over the long run, but also now places Gov. David Patterson in a spot that few black leaders have found themselves in before.
We’re here on day three (two?) of the Obama presidency, and all eyes turn, at least briefly, to Gov. Patterson, who as recently as Wednesday had the relatively straightforward option of appointing an earnest, civic-minded, well-liked F.O.B. (Friend of Barack) with a titanium-plated surname—in short, the anti-Palin—to fill the senate seat of outgoing senator and newly confirmed Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Now he has to choose from a slate of worthy, if uninspiring, career democratic pols ranging from another legacy pick, former New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, whose appointment would eliminate him from competition with the also-appointed Patterson in a future New York gubernatorial primary, to congressional newcomer, Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand. His opportunity to bow to his Latino constituents by appointing Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrión appears to have passed him by.
The Buzz has another idea for Patterson: flee Albany. Why not appoint himself senator, and join Sen. Roland Burris as the two African American members of Congress’ own House of Lords? Two appointees—a swinger and the real-life black Santa Claus—coasting comfortably toward the 2010 elections and playing a direct role in working toward Obama’s agenda. D.C. is the place to be, and the pension isn’t bad either.