A new president… Caroline Kennedy drops out… Kirsten Gillibrand drops in… Joe Bruno indicted… what a week! Where to begin?
Herkimer County Progressive is happy at the choice of Gillibrand, although many would say she’s hardly “progressive.” Rochester Turning has a more nuanced view (with bullet points), which pretty much agree with my own. I didn’t want to lose Cuomo as AG. I didn’t want Kennedy (boy, did I not want her). I would have loved to see Holtzman named to the job, but I understand why she wasn’t picked. I don’t know much about Gillibrand except she is to the right of me on several things. There is nothing about her appointment that strikes me particularly as a disaster, as she is expected to begin tacking to the left promptly. But she represents a district that has not really experienced the depths of the economic deep freeze that we are familiar with here in Central New York; and she’s not exactly an outsider.
Perusing various national political forums, it was depressing yet unsurprising to see how poorly New York State is understood around the nation as a political entity. We’re deeply stereotyped as some sort of mythical “true blue state” — one that’s elected Pataki, Giuliani, Bloomberg, D’Amato, Schumer, Clinton and Spitzer, all noted for their 100% progressive credentials (ahem). But the change was in how many people — voices both known to me and unfamiliar to me — came out to talk Upstate to the world and explain its great variety and complexities. York Staters was even plugged. Maybe Gillibrand isn’t “the voice of Upstate New York,” but she is getting a lot of voices to speak up on our behalf.
This conversation is not always going to be modulated – again, something new for us. Now that we’ve been noticed (if imperfectly), people are going to care about what we think and how we vote more than ever before. Maybe this little idyll of civility/inaction is soon to disappear. What will happen when we get down to the nitty gritty of talking about our values, instead of just about our survival? What does Upstate New York want to be when it grows up?
Things are changing all around us that are going to have an impact on politics and civil discourse in our region for years to come. The state’s power brokers would never admit the uncomfortable truth — that Wall Street’s prostrate condition has at least temporarily disrupted business as usual in the state, and in the country and the world. I see Paterson’s choice as part of a chain of chaos – one hopes, creative chaos – that started long before he became governor. He’s taking a lot of heat, but he alone can hardly be blamed for a result that many of the good and the great did not predict. “Things fall apart.”