I’ve had a couple days to calm down over the Caroline Kennedy thing.
Moving on, I’d like to point out that this is not 2000. In 2000, a lot of people (me included) were irked at Clinton’s carpetbagging. She had even less to do with New York than Caroline Kennedy does. But there were certain factors in 2000 which made Hillary Clinton easier to swallow. For starters, the economy was not in the dire state it is in now. Yes, Upstate was in dire shape (as always), but around us was a perceived affluence continuing for others that people hoped could be somehow “brought back” to our region by a star player like Hillary.
That is not the situation today. The situation for all of New York is now truly dire, and it hasn’t even really begun to hit here yet, even with the truly hard blow of Syracuse China and now long-dreaded layoffs at New Process Gear. Rumored layoffs at Kodak, auto workers in Buffalo wondering what’s going to happen, Fort Drum families seeing no end to Afghan deployments. I’m afraid Caroline Kennedy blundered right into a hornet’s nest when she got out of the car today. People are loaded for bear in a way they never were with Clinton. They know the cavalry is not coming over the hill. They know they are alone, on their own. The mood isn’t just damp and gray now — it grows icy and brittle. Not a great time for an absolute newbie to elective (or appointive) politics to blow into town and refuse to answer questions.
Even worse, Democratic victory in the state Senate has left Upstaters feeling particularly shut out of power — Upstate Democrats especially. In 2000, there was just a continuation of the status quo in Albany. Now things have shifted and the joke is clearly on us — despite the fact that Upstate is getting nominally “bluer.” Noises about an Upstate caucus grow a little louder. To have a candidate from New York City (at best) and “out of state” pushed on us adds insult to injury, for some.
I also think Upstaters are tired of the “listening tours,” tired of candidates who have to learn all about us all over again. It would indeed be novel to have a senator who knew what comes after Oswego, Otsego and Owego. (Hint: It’s not Otego.) Why can’t we have someone representing our state who doesn’t have to do homework or memorize flash cards about one-third of its population and four-fifths of its land area? We are running out of time here. This may come as a huge shock, but I think we want to be represented in Washington, represented by someone who knows our state and loves it. A champion, not a Good Fairy.
It’s hardly personal, the animosity toward Caroline Kennedy as a candidate, but there is such a thing as the wrong person at the wrong time, in a time that’s out of joint. She can certainly be forced upon an ambivalent electorate, but I don’t think she’s going to go down as easily as Hillary Clinton did, and she probably will not energize Democrats, or demoralize Republicans, all that much.
Original rant is below the flip.