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Chris Bowers lays out the case for a Constitutional Amendment that would eliminate the power of governors to fill Senate vacancies -- a process that has become rife with corruption and elitism.

The top political story over the past week has been a corruption case surrounding the appointment of a Senator to Barack Obama's vacant seat in Illinois. At the same time, a woman whose family lineage is her primary qualification to be a Senator has begun a "public" campaign to reach out to local political elites using Joe Lieberman's "fixer" in order to secure the seat. Earlier, a long-time aide to Vice-President-elect Joe Biden was picked to serve his Senate seat. In 2010, Biden's seat is expected to be filled by his son, Beau Biden. In the coming days, Representative John Salazar will be considered one of the leading candidates to be appointed to his brother's now vacant seat in Colorado.

There is an endemic problem of dynasties and elitism in our political process. The power of Governor's to appoint vacant Senate seats is one of the more egregious examples of this. The four examples we are looking at right now are not isolated incidents, either. Six years ago, former Alaska Governor Frank Murkowski appointed his daughter to fill his vacant Senate seat. Two years before that, when Mel Carnahan died in a plane crash, his wife, Jean Carnahan, served two years in the Senate to replace him. The previous year, Lincoln Chafee was appointed to serve when his father died unexpectedly.

The list goes on and on, of course. And to be clear, while I find it disheartening that the younger Biden will likely take his father's old seat in two years, at least they're doing it right in Delaware by appointing a caretaker Senator. He'll have every advantage in the world, but at least Beau will be elected to the seat.

But the Biden situation, that of the voter-driven monarchy, is unsolvable. If the voters want their monarchy, they'll get their monarchy. And we live in a world where the right name, the right checking account balance, and the right connections allow people to get ahead over those less fortunate. The money situation could be alleviated by the continued rise of people-powered fundraising (which propelled the outsider Obama past the establishment-funded Clinton) or perhaps public financing of elections. But the power of a name like "Biden" or "Bayh" or "Clinton" or "Bush" is priceless. So be it.

The problem here isn't that candidates trade off their name for electoral advantage, it's when they trade off that name for a political appointment, bypassing the trappings of democracy in order to be handed something by fiat. And as Chris notes, this problem isn't just one in New York. It's led to corruption in Illinois, nepotism in Alaska, Missouri, and Rhode Island.

Ultimately, the rich, powerful, and famous already have every advantage in life, so much so that the least they can do is make their case to the voters and be elected by popular acclaim. The notion that these elite should get something as important as a Senate seat because they have the governor on speed dial is deeply offensive.

Chris admits that the prospects of such a Constitutional amendment are minimal. But like Alaska, states should consider changing their laws to take this decision away from governors and giving it, just like we do in the House, to the voters.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 04:45 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  with the world melting around our ears, (67+ / 0-)

    I just can't bring myself to become so exercised that Caroline Kennedy may become my next Senator.

    I'll care more that she (or whoever ends up being appointed) adds a truly progressive voice to a body that certainly could use it.

  •  Give the seat to Caroline (11+ / 0-)

    until Chelsea wants it!

  •  Florida is about to get a Bush senator (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    PBnJ

    who will lead the shadow government in Washington.

    •  Not if we have anything to say about it. (10+ / 0-)

      And I think we may have a word or two. And a dollar or two.

    •  Over my cold, dead(tired) body. (6+ / 0-)

      I will knock on every door in Florida and beg for every dollar I can to stop that from happening.

    •  dont count on it my dear. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      PBnJ, Miss Blue, StrayCat

      we will fight that will every fiber of our being. We will cut that shit off at the root before it takes hold. Forget about it.

    •  I'm surprised this hasn't come up sooner (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      musing85, Jay C, nycjoc

      What's with all the Dem examples of this?

      IIRC, the Bushes are the one example of destructive dynasties from which every member -- from the Nazi-endorser to the torturer -- has done nothing but fck things up.

      Honestly, I'm torn about the current controversy with Caroline Kennedy; she's qualified but is she most qualified? I don't know. Is anyone currently on the Senate floor most qualified out of all those around to represent their constituents? And does s/he who is most qualified even have the desire to run?

      Kos seems to want purity from the grass-roots but if that's the goal, then some things have to fundamentally change with the pocketbook aspects in which people of ordinary means can compete on an even playing field.

      Until a lot of other issues are addressed, we will continue to have connected and well-funded people of the same name able to run -- and some of them may be qualified, some may be just competent, and others will dodder through and destroy everything in their path.

      Chaos. It's not just a theory.

      by PBnJ on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 05:24:13 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  and their is no way (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Vico, Miss Blue

        to judge who will be the best. Fully qualified applicants are often failures at their jobs. If CK meets the requirements mandated to obtain the office she should be considered with the rest. I believe the word dynasty is thrown around a little too loosely. As it is being used here it would seem that these families sought public office simply to further their families personal goals. Being a member of a family that has put their country ahead of themselves does not make them a dynasty.

        "I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend." -Thomas Jefferson

        by Klick2con10ue on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 05:50:32 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Right about the loose use of "dynasty." (3+ / 0-)

          Particularly in the case of the Clintons, in which we have one generation and spouses, not a hereditary succession. I always considered that one more than a bit sexist, or, at very least, an easy yielding to the Republican dedication to smearing them in the media at every turn ("I'm just so tired of them being in the news all the time!).

          "I just don't think we can let these people back into polite society ... and just let them pretend that nothing ever happened...." -Richard Clarke

          by Vico on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 05:58:20 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Clintons (0+ / 0-)

            The media will be what it is. As much as I admire the Clinton's intelligence and political acumen, I am not an advocate of what I perceive to be their centrist politics.

            "I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend." -Thomas Jefferson

            by Klick2con10ue on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 06:12:08 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  Good point, particularly (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            musing85

            because we should also remember that Al Gore is a junior, and that his father was also a US congressman from Tennessee. I don't see anyone whining about that, but then hindsight is better than foresight, as is frequently said.

            Chaos. It's not just a theory.

            by PBnJ on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 06:35:08 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  Clintons (0+ / 0-)

            Particularly in the case of the Clintons, in which we have one generation and spouses, not a hereditary succession. I always considered that one more than a bit sexist...

            Not only that, but Hillary was qualified enough in her own right to be discussed as a potential member of a Dukakis cabinet.  And she never campaigned as if she were owed the seat.  She fought hard for every vote and really got to know the people she represents.  So she overcame my presumption against nepotism.

        •  It does indeed make it a dynasty. The merits or (0+ / 0-)

          demerits of any particular member of a dynastic family and buried in the general reputation of the family at large.  This has happened again and again.  It seems that all people like an easier decisional method than thought and balancing interests and merits among various candidates.

          Patriotism may be the last refuge of scoundrels, but religion is assuredly the first.

          by StrayCat on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 06:05:44 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  It is really about trust is it not? (0+ / 0-)

            The Kennedy name evokes that trust for many. There may be many reasons, though we cannot know what they are, that she should not hold this office, but her being a Kennedy is not one of them. Like I said above if she meets the requirements of the job, she should be able to put her hat in the ring.

            "I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend." -Thomas Jefferson

            by Klick2con10ue on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 06:19:57 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  She's the most qualified to beat Guiliani (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        sebastianguy99, Litvak36, Escamillo

        He's got mad super star status in NY, especially upstate, and he's coming for this seat in 2010. We will need a super star of our own. Caroline Kennedy is the only one in NY with that kind of power right now.

        Stephanie Dray
        of Jousting for Justice, a lefty blog with a Maryland tilt.

        by stephdray on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 08:21:42 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Weren't Lisa Murkowski, Jean Carnahan, and Chafee (7+ / 0-)

    all qualified, though? Haven't they served their states well? Is that really an example of corruption?

    •  Well it's still a form of elitism (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Wufacta, StrayCat

      it doesn't seem like Kos is saying Chafee or Carnahan are corrupt, per se.

      Wall Street pirates loot this country, destroy people's lifelong work and their pensions. If you need to execute someone, shoot those motherfuckers.

      by Nulwee on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 04:56:00 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Eraditcating elitisim is going to take a lot more (4+ / 0-)

        than changing the governor's power to appoint in a few states.

        Frankly, I don't think it addresses elitism at all.

        Most people who make it in politics these days, have a family with a history in the game - whether it's local, state or national.

        Look at Nancy Pelosi, Al Gore, Bob Casey...it goes on and on.

        On the local level, it's even worse, if you ask me. Elitism is the name of the game.  If you don't have the right family name, don't know the right people - you have no chance.  The town in PA I live near has elected the same 3 or 4 people mayor for the last 30 years.  And everyone knows the families who have a little more influence than the rest of us.

        It seems we're singling out more prominent families and only examining one small aspect of a much broader problem.

        •  But being the daughter of the former mayor (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Litvak36

          of Baltimore, could not have helped Nancy Pelosi that much in San Francisco.  How many ex-Baltimoreans who fondly remembered her dad could have been in San Francisco to vote for her?

          "We have always known that heedless self-interest was bad morals, now we know that it is bad economics." Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Jan. 20, 1937

          by Navy Vet Terp on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 05:27:01 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  If you think that is a remotely solvable problem (0+ / 0-)

          I have a few Bridges to Nowhere to sell you.

          Humans are social and hierarchical mammals by nature, and more than that, we're a mammal that engages in social specialization.  There's a reason that all sorts of families have jobs, and not just political, that are considered traditional.

          There's a reason a great many military officers had at least one parent who was also in the military, and frequently and officer, and this holds true outside of the US system.  Firefighting, fishing, farming, logging, mining, policing, all blue collar jobs where people aren't the least bit surprised when a child follows a parent into the work.  Is that "elitism"?  I suspect were you to try and make that argument, people would laugh at you.

          Politics is exactly the same.  Yes, the child of a politician has advantages because they know people, but knowing people is part of the job of politics.  It's the most important tool of politics, and you can't blame someone for taking up the family business because they've grown up with some familiarity of the job and its tools, any more than you could claim that someone had an unfair advantage at being a fisherman because they grew up around boats and nets, or that it's completely unfair that the daughter of a pilot has greater opportunity at learning to fly because she's been around aircraft most of her life.

          Sure, George W. Bush is a good example of what is wrong with it, following his father into the military, business, and politics, and screwing them all up but being protected because of the family name.  But then you have Al Gore Jr., who clearly had a leg up getting into politics because of his father and yet no one questions his legitimacy as a politician in his own right.  Or John Quincy Adams, who, aside from the his term as president, is considered one of the great American diplomats.  You think being the son of John Adams didn't play a large role in him having that opportunity?

          It's only a problem when the kid squanders that advantage because they're incompetent at the job and the family connection protects them from the consequences of their failures, or when no one else can break into the system because all the kids take the available positions.  But if you think that last one is only a problem with politics, well, I know some unions who caused the identical situation.

    •  And Margaret Chase Smith (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      maggiejean

      Who inherited her congressional seat from her late husband, and who later was elected to the U.S. Senate in her own right and became one of the great Senators of the 20th century, one of the first to take on Joe McCarthy.

      "We have always known that heedless self-interest was bad morals, now we know that it is bad economics." Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Jan. 20, 1937

      by Navy Vet Terp on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 05:24:38 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  This is not personal corruption of the (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      nycjoc, Inspector Javert

      people appointed, but a corruption of the body politic.  However small the dose is in any particular case, the additive nature of the violation of democratic principles leads, in time, to a true aristocracy.

      Patriotism may be the last refuge of scoundrels, but religion is assuredly the first.

      by StrayCat on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 06:13:54 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Ok, ok, I f'ing get it (35+ / 0-)

    My family were wealthy vitners, my wife was friends with the queen, my sister in law was the wife of John of Gaunt, I was Comptroller of Customs -- give it a rest -- I did the writing on my own, no matter what Boccaccio says.

  •  Mel Carnahan (12+ / 0-)

    was much loved in Missouri at the time. He died in a horrific plane crash. "I'm still with Mel" stickers appeared on many people's cars. Personally, I wasn't offended by the pick of his wife. Besides, she defeated John Ashcroft, who essentially lost to a dead guy, giving us another reason to mock him. And he went on to great things.

    The cruelties and the obstacles of this swiftly changing planet will not yield to obsolete dogmas and outworn slogans.

    by charliestl on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 04:50:20 PM PST

  •  If we must have an amendment... (12+ / 0-)

    ...how about curtailing the president's ability to pardon members of the executive branch?

  •  Here's the problem with special elections (34+ / 0-)

    They're expensive for states to run whenever a vacancy comes up (Illinois can hardly afford the over $20 million it would cost right now) and they leave a state without representation until the election occurs and the Senate without someone to make decisions.

    In understand Markos' concern about elitism and his tendency toward meritocracy, but he's taken this to obsessive fetish level.

    Willing to mismanage and fail for bailout

    by John Campanelli on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 04:50:33 PM PST

  •  i'm sick and tired of this nonsense (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    CeeusBeeus

    u know, bush got RE-Elected by the people

    a pure democracy isn't good, we need a check and balance against the people

    alot of times, there are ppl who would help benefit society and are ppl of principle but they are not charasmatic enough to get elected by "the people" having apointments is a good thing.

    yes, corrupt ppl can take advantage of situations, but u can elect those ppl who make those apointments

  •  Is there a third way that would work? (7+ / 0-)

    The downside of special elections is that states are without representation until the election can be held. (Party balance can be shifted as well - Obama's resignation leaves the D's down one vote.)

    Also, special elections cost a lot and tend to draw fewer voters.

    We must allow them to finish their terms. Then they can start their new "terms". -edscan

    by lineatus on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 04:52:30 PM PST

  •  That would have an added benefit (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Adam B, CityLightsLover

    of allowing a president-elect to appoint the people he wants to serve in his Cabinet instead of bypassing people because of who gets to appoint someone to serve in the seat.  As in, "I can't appoint this guy.  A Republican governor gets to appoint his replacement, and we'll lose the seat."  

  •  a simple plan (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    CityLightsLover

    allow Gov's to appoint but require that the appointed Senator be a caretaker and not run for the seat.

  •  A Constitutional Amendment? (21+ / 0-)

    Are we going to be like Repugs and advocate amending the Constitution every time something goes on we don't like?

    Let each state decide how vacancies should be filled.  If the people in any given state are happy with letting the Governor make an appointment fine, if not let them change their law.

    Gov. Patterson will appoint someone to the seat.  If the good people of New York don't like who he picks they can vote that person out.

    Let's leave the Constitution alone on this one.

    •  We are a Republic, not a pure democracy. (0+ / 0-)

      We don't need another Constitutional amendment, for heaven's sake. These matters can be resolved without that.

      I wish Kos would get off of this. I'm not swallowing this "elitist" crap for a minute.    

      "Hatred paralyzes life; love releases it. Hatred confuses life; love harmonizes it. Hatred darkens life; love illuminates it." ML King

      by TheWesternSun on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 06:59:32 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Heh (10+ / 0-)

    Funny

    The news that Lady Kennedy will be taking her uncle's seat in the US House of Lords will be greeted with pleasure by feminists everywhere. Unlike the UK which insists on the principle of male primogeniture, the US has for many years espoused the principle of equality in its feudal governance.

    Lady Kennedy will be raised to the peerage by Governor Paterson of New York, a local petty warlord who was himself appointed to the position after his predecessor was criticized for over paying a prostitute.

    Not funny: picking up the phone and getting appointed to the Senate because you have a famous name.

    See you at the debate, bitches!

    by calipygian on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 04:53:03 PM PST

    •  Hamsher is such a hack (12+ / 0-)

      I lost all respect for her

      This year we can declare our independence...Barack Obama

      by PalGirl2008 on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 05:01:41 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Local petty warlord?? (8+ / 0-)

      What kind of crap is that? And do they realize that David Paterson was elected by voters knowing he might someday be governor? That's part of being lieutenant governor.

      People are getting so hysterical about this fake, self-serving populism they're just reaching for anything now. I have yet to really hear anyone who benefits from all this chest-beating.

      •  That's because it's not about benefiting (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        nycjoc

        It's about trying to build a more transparent and just democracy. I know a lot of people on this site like to belittle that goal but I, for one, am glad that Kos is making the case.

        That being said, I think the front page are getting a bit excessive . . .

        •  Is it really being more transparent? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          stephdray

          Caroline Kennedy doesn't seem to be very secretive to me in how she's going about this process. Even if she's appointed, she will face reelection in 2 years. This isn't like a Supreme Court seat.

          If people are worried about democracy, I'd think they'd be more involved in races like those involving Dan Lipinski, or other machine candidates who technically "win" elections yet have no real qualifications and rarely seem to actually compete in elections. Even his primary had people on the ballot who could help drain votes from his main challenger.

          I know some people are genuinely concerned about how these appointments look, or how they're made, but much of the reaction comes across to me as people who won this past election but don't really feel like anything has been accomplished. America is suffering, and seems on track to keep suffering, So playing the peasant and going on and on about royalty and monarchies is a way for people to feel special. It's a Pop-Tart version of populism.

          And then of course there are those who are upset because of Hillary, because I'm sure Hillary wants nothing more than to have her supporters again making it look like nothing is acceptable in her eyes.

      •  Hey, JB3 -- Good to see you around. n/t (0+ / 0-)

        "I just don't think we can let these people back into polite society ... and just let them pretend that nothing ever happened...." -Richard Clarke

        by Vico on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 06:23:37 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  To be fair... (0+ / 0-)

        ...LT Governor is about as close to an appointed state position as you can get.  No one notices you unless you really funk up, everyone votes for the guy at the top of the ticket, etc.  So, in a state that does't elect LG seperately, you really could appoint someone and nobody would notice.

        "An army of principles can penetrate where an army of soldiers cannot." - Thomas Paine

        by Mister Gloom on Wed Dec 17, 2008 at 08:20:57 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Well it would be nice to end appointments, but (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    CityLightsLover

    still, someone has to be appointed in the interim.

    So if not Caroline, who? Anyone who isn't part of a dynasty?

    Wall Street pirates loot this country, destroy people's lifelong work and their pensions. If you need to execute someone, shoot those motherfuckers.

    by Nulwee on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 04:53:33 PM PST

  •  I'd love to hear what you think is (6+ / 0-)

    nepotism in Missouri.

    I mean I guess you could be talking about the Caranhans but well all of them were elected to office and outside of that name I can only think of 1 other prominent family in MO, that is the Clays but that would make even less sense.

    So I'm confused and hoping someone can let me in on the dirty secert I don't know

  •  Excuse me, (14+ / 0-)

    talk about a solution looking for a problem.  One asshole tries to sell a seat, and all the states now must pay for special elections, which will have minimal voter turnout because they are out of sequence.  Spare us, please!

    I am for the individual over government, government over big business, and the environment over all. - William O. Douglas

    by Its the Supreme Court Stupid on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 04:54:10 PM PST

    •  Oh, it's not just selling a seat (12+ / 0-)

      it's that the Republic is apparently going to end if Caroline Kennedy becomes a Senator.

      Somehow, Kos thinks that elections are pure and that she wouldn't win an election purely on name recognition anyway, and that the lovely voters that almost sent Ted Stevens and did send Saxby Chambliss and voted for Lizard People in MN...somehow, Kos think's that a better system than the governor picking someone (even if for only 2 years). I'm not convinced.

      I've got a new proposal: the Governor of New York gets to pick the Senators from OK, MS, and WY. I like that constitutional amendment much better.

      What do you call a parent that believes in abstinence only sex ed? A Grandparent.

      by ChurchofBruce on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 04:57:56 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Do you realize what you just said? (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        StrayCat, mdmslle, nycjoc, ChiTownBlue2000

        You're arguing that appointments are better than elections for legislators. And your rationale is basically that "people are dumb" and/or because "she would have won anyway."

        I agree that Kos is overreacting a bit to this news, but some of the pro-Kennedy arguments are downright frightening.

        •  This is the law we have - (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          musing85, magurakurin

          it's the only law we currently have on this. We can't wave a magic wand and create an election. THIS is the law. Governor appoints. Period.

          •  Yeah (0+ / 0-)

            I would never ague that Patterson doesn't have the right to appoint whoever he wants.

            I'm just a bit surprised when people like ChurchofBruce float such sharply anti-democratic arguments.

            •  I think it's just an overreaction (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              musing85, Miss Blue

              to the bullshit here. This is really getting absurd.

              Kennedy is a good pick. She's got the money to run and she's got name recognition and popularity to win against ANY opposition in 2 years. This would be one Senate seat we wouldn't need to worry about at all if she is running. That frees up a lot of money and support for other races that will be much closer. And the majority of people complaining don't even live in NY!

        •  Tongue mostly in cheek (0+ / 0-)

          not completely, but mostly :)

          Like I said below, and this is the tongue not in cheek version of it: Kos doesn't like appointing someone who's just a "name" like Caroline Kennedy. So, fine, let's have the election. And I'll bet every cent on...the "name", Caroline Kennedy. Yes, that's the "she would've won anyway" argument. But, let's face it...she would.

          I don't think appointments are better. I don't think they're all that much worse.  2008 being a recent exception.

          My preferred form of government is a dictatorship, but only if I'm the dictator. :)

          What do you call a parent that believes in abstinence only sex ed? A Grandparent.

          by ChurchofBruce on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 09:08:23 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Hardball now saying Hillary wanted to have a (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jj32, citizenx, CityLightsLover

    voice in who replaced her...WTF?

    Once in a while you get shown the light in the strangest of places if you look at it right.

    by darthstar on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 04:54:24 PM PST

  •  I think we should go back (8+ / 0-)

    to the system where the state legislature picks senators.

    Because, you know, we really haven't done all that great a job of it.

    So,yeah, color me less than concerned at all about this issue.

    What do you call a parent that believes in abstinence only sex ed? A Grandparent.

    by ChurchofBruce on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 04:54:38 PM PST

  •  appointment senators hardly ever get re-elected (8+ / 0-)

    anyway...so im not sure this is one of those problems we need to amend the constitution to fix.

    msnbc first read:

    Appointing the spouses of deceased senators has a long and unsuccessful history as well. Four times over the past half-century, the wives of senators who died in office have been appointed.

    None of them have won re-election.

    There are also at least five instances of governors appointing themselves to a Senate vacancy -- Oklahoma Gov. J. Howard Edmondson in 1959, Wyoming Gov. John Hickey in 1961, New Mexico Gov. Edwin Mecham in 1962, South Carolina Gov. Donald Russell in 1965 and Gov. Wendell Anderson from Minnesota in 1976, who appointed himself to fill Walter Mondale's seat upon Mondale's elevation to the vice presidency.

    It's worth noting that all five of these "greedy" governors lost their re-election bids.

    In fact, according to research done on FiveThirtyEight.com, being appointed to a Senate vacancy is not a good way to ensure a long Senate career. Over the last 50 years, less than 40 percent of appointed senators go on to win their subsequent special election.

    And while the Blagojevich appointment has raised questions about how Senate vacancies are filled, it's important to note there is a Constitutional reason for the appointment process.

    Remember that senators were not required to be directly elected to office until 1913 with the passage of the 17th Amendment. Originally, the Constitution stipulated that senators be elected by the states -- part of the Great Compromise where House seats would be allocated by population, and the Senate members would be chosen by state legislatures.

    emphasis mine

    I have as much authority as the Pope. I just don't have as many people who believe it.

    by freaktown on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 04:54:55 PM PST

  •  With tongue not entirely in cheek, (0+ / 0-)

    perhaps we should consider the old Chinese system of political advancement through civil service examinations ...

    The Bush Legacy Project: Mission Impossible

    by tovan on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 04:58:21 PM PST

  •  When BlagoGate broke, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    aimeeinkc

    elwood on Blue Hampshire wrote a diary proposing that we change the law in NH to replace appointments for senate vacancies with special elections.

    And wouldn't you know it, a prominent state house member read it and commented that he would look into the idea.

    Yay for blogs.

    Blue Hampshire. Defeating Republicans since 2006.

    by Dean Barker on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 04:58:51 PM PST

  •  Sheesh, your 3rd front page story in 2 days (20+ / 0-)

    on this subject.

    Obsessing much?

    And, have you thought about retracting that misogynistic endorsement you made of Ackerman's smear compairing Caroline Kennedy to J-Lo?

  •  A governor should be able to appoint someone (6+ / 0-)

    To serve as Senator until an election can be held

    That person should be barred from running in the special election to fill the seat for the rest of the term.

  •  Well, to be fair... (0+ / 0-)

    Beau at least has some experience as Attorney General.

  •  Hasn't this dead horse been beaten to a bloody (15+ / 0-)

    pulp?? It's time to move on and start discussing the thousands of real issues that face our society and are in need of congressional action. A constitutional amendment to rectify a non-existent problem? No thanks. Surely you there must be one or two real issues of actual importance that are worthy of the effort involved in securing approval of a constitutional amendment.

  •  Illinois (7+ / 0-)

    The system of Senate appointments didn't cause corruption in Illinois. The election of Rod Blagojevich caused (or, to be more precise, exacerbated) corruption in Illinois.

    I'm all for a reform of the system, but as others have said, we have much bigger problems in this country than Caroline Kennedy. In a perfect world of good government, Paterson would appoint a caretaker. In the real world, Dems are going to have a tough time holding on to the three top statewide seats, I fear. I am a partisan Democrat. I don't want either Rudi Giulani (an evil man) or the benign but opportunistic chameleon Michael Bloomberg in the Senate.
    If Caroline Kennedy's star power makes it easier for the Dems to hold on to both of those seats (and I don't admit that's a given), then I can live with the Dems playing a bit of hardball. I don't give a fiddler's fuck about "Camelot" and never have, but if she pulls low-info swing voters away from Rudi 9/11, I'm all for it.
    If New Yorkers or other observers can propose a stronger candidate, I'm all for that.

    Final note: I think Lincoln Chaffee was a loss to the Senate. If he had been willing to leave the Republican party, as an Indy, not a Dem, I think it would have been a net gain for the country. Not because he was a Chaffee, but he because he was smart, thoughtful and principled.

  •  Markos, you are wrong about Beau Biden (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SadEagle, itzik shpitzik, ElsieElsie

    He is an exceptionally hard worker, finished at the top of his class n UPenn and Syracuse Law, worked as a top federal prosecutor in the Department of Justice, and won his Attorney General position through a tough general election fight with an unqualified Republican opponent. He is entitled to the Senate based on his merits, not on his name. Delawareans would be lucky to have him as their senator.

    I agree with you on Caroline Kennedy. That's backroom dealing bullshit in which the candidate has no qualifications other than getting a chromosome from a former president. But Beau Biden is a rising superstar in the Democratic Party (who might even run for president some day), and you of all people, Mr. Moulitsas, would do well to recognize that.

  •  what a travesty (14+ / 0-)

    Oh heavens, someone whose family is in politics is also in politics. I may just come down with a case of the vapors.

    And on top of that, someone with political connections may just succeed in politics. What is this world coming to?

    Meanwhile, a true liberal may be appointed junior senator from New York.

    •  The question is how do we know she's a liberal? (0+ / 0-)

      What is her position on the issues?

      President-elect Obama. I like the sound of it!

      by AUBoy2007 on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 05:25:18 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Gee if you only had access to the internet (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Miss Blue, berrieh

        You could read things she's said and written!

        •  What about these issues? (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          AUBoy2007, ChiTownBlue2000

          Do you know her position on any of these issues?  I've Googled and come up with nothing:

          Partial birth abortion
          Medical marijuana
          Pre-emptive war (i.e., the Bush Doctrine)
          Extraordinary rendition
          Joe Lieberman
          NAFTA

          Hope you enjoyed it, Sarah, 'cause we just kicked your silly winking folksy lipsticked ass back to Alaska. Now shut the fuck up and stay there. Also.

          by Kaili Joy Gray on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 05:40:02 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Does one really need a position on Lieberman? (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Vico

            Really? We've elevated his importance to be an actual policy topic all its own? That seems just so very very wrong.

            •  I'm just throwing it out there. (0+ / 0-)

              Half-snarking, half not.

              But some of those other issues are important, and I can't find anything about where she stands on them either.

              Hope you enjoyed it, Sarah, 'cause we just kicked your silly winking folksy lipsticked ass back to Alaska. Now shut the fuck up and stay there. Also.

              by Kaili Joy Gray on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 09:08:51 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

          •  wrt pre-emptive war (0+ / 0-)

            So those are your litmus test issues?

            Anyway, regarding "Pre-emptive war (i.e. the Bush Doctrine"), Caroline wrote the following as part of her January 27 NY Times op-ed endorsement of Barack Obama:

            And when it comes to judgment, Barack Obama made the right call on the most important issue of our time by opposing the war in Iraq from the beginning.

            That should answer your question on that.

            P.S.
            I've seen others here suggest that she might be some right-winger in sheep's clothing, and it's totally asinine.  You want to know her general outlook?  Look at those she admires, those she's endorsed.  That'll give you a clue.

      •  oh come on. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Miss Blue

        really. do we have to go THAT far?

        i';m so sure caroline is sarah palin in disguise. {eye roll}

        •  Did I say that? (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          nycjoc, ChiTownBlue2000

          At least with elected officials, they've stated their positions and have acted on them so we know more or less where they stand.

          President-elect Obama. I like the sound of it!

          by AUBoy2007 on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 05:40:07 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  you said (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Miss Blue

            do we even know she is a progressive?

            that's just ridiculous.

            I get it that she hasnt stated many of her positions publicly (although many have been) but you took quite a leap when you said "are we sure she's even a progressive".

            Sorry. I sounded just as silly to me as comparing her to palin.

            She's written books, papers, letters, been involved in many activities. When we are looking at cabinet appointments obama is considering we take all that into consideration dont we? I've seen people on this site post extensive diaries about a persons past work (elected or not), writings, papers...and many of those appointmnets still have not publicly stated a policy position.

            I say this only to say that suggesting that you canot tell what her politics are because she (as yet) has not filled a position paper is absurd and doesnt help your argument.

            YES she should be filling in the blanks. But to actually say "We are sure if she's a progressive" is hogwash.

      •  Read her books on the First Amendment. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        stephdray

        We at least know that she's a civil libertarian.

        "I just don't think we can let these people back into polite society ... and just let them pretend that nothing ever happened...." -Richard Clarke

        by Vico on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 06:39:18 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  I have no idea whether Caroline Kennedy would (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Pd, StrayCat, nycjoc, ChiTownBlue2000

    be a good senator. She might be the best since Wellstone, or the worst since Lieberman.

    But that's not the point.

    It's the principle of the thing. I agree with kos.

    "Great warrior!?" (laughs) "Wars not make one great." -Yoda

    by VictorLaszlo on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 05:02:55 PM PST

  •  "Doing it right" (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    zeke L, NotGeorgeWill

    Why, oh why, is a "caretaker appointment" doing it right for anybody except Beau Biden?

    This will be a second-rate Senate seat, a lame duck before he even takes office. Delaware will have less influence in the body.

    Bowers is generally right, although the much faster solution is state action.

    And for those who complain about the cost of special elections or the vacant seat, the Founders always demanded that House vacancies be handled this way. The Senate was a bulwark against scum like us.

    •  not always house vacancies with special elections (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Vico, Elwood Dowd

      It's only that house vacancies cannot be filled by appointment, but nothing says there has to be a special election...could stay vacant until next general

      "I do think it is kind of sad when everybody who owns a laptop thinks they are Thomas Paine" Redlief take on Helen Thomas, 2008

      by redlief on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 05:08:35 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  "The right checking account" problem... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    StrayCat

    MIGHT be helped by a law that sez nobody can donate to their OWN campaing any more than anyone ELSE can donate to the same. PS - many apostrophes in "Governor's" in the second paragraph.

    License they mean, when they cry Liberty! - Milton

    by Rocco Gibralter on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 05:05:32 PM PST

  •  How about the fact that a special election will.. (11+ / 0-)

    deprive states like NY,IL and other from crucial representation, and resources( they don't currently have) for the sake of electing somebody that will have to run again in 2 years?

    this Caroline derangement syndrome has to stop

    and Hamsher should be ashamed of her self....criticize Caroline all you want, but do with some respect and logic.

    This year we can declare our independence...Barack Obama

    by PalGirl2008 on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 05:06:21 PM PST

    •  Along those lines... (0+ / 0-)

      I wish Hillary would follow Obama's lead and resign now, rather than waiting for Senate confirmation that she's guaranteed to get.

      Bad enough we in NY have to go back to a seat with zero seniority in the Senate - if we have to wait until later in January or February or longer, our new Senator will fall all the way at the back of the seniority gravy train, behind all the rest of the new members of the Class of 2008.

  •  Kos certainly seems to have become obsessed (10+ / 0-)
    with this appointment to a Senate seat thing.  This is his second diary on the subject just today.  Funny, I did not hear him complain about it when this occurred in the past.
    •  This is past obsessed (16+ / 0-)

      This is bordering on pathological.  Look, Kos, you are exhibiting the most blatant form of prejudice.  You are saying that Caroline Kennedy can't be a Senator just because she was born a Kennedy.  You don't care about the fact that she is a lawyer who has written books about constitutional issues, you don't care about the fact that she has raised millions for the NYC schools, you refuse to even consider what she has done in her life.  You won't respond to the fact that she endorsed Obama early OVER Clinton, the establishment Dem. Let's face it.

      This isn't populism, this isn't democracy with a small "d". This is blatant prejudice.  You won't respond to any of the arguments brought up by those of us who live in NY, who know statewide politics, who know it is going to be rough in 2010.  You just keep repeating that meme that she is a Kennedy and therefore, she doesn't get the seat.

      And now you and Bowers want to expend energy on a Constitutional Amendment to prohibit governors from making appointments? Are you kidding me?  I like my state just fine, thank you.  There's no corruption in NY.  I don't need you or Bowers putting your purity troll noses in my state's business. We do just fine here, thanks.

      What an idiotic idea.

      We do not rent rooms to Republicans.

      by Mary Julia on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 05:25:46 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Hmm. I seek a compromise. (0+ / 0-)

        Let's let the Illinois Kossacks weigh in on who should be their new (TEMPORARY) Senator.

        Then we can let the NY Kossacks discuss theirs whilst the DE and CO Kossacks take up their own debates.

        I respect the arguement being made, and I do understand why it riles people up. In fairness, it is a bit of an odd situation, and one with no particulary good solutions.

        But I also really agree with those who wonder if this is the most pressing issue on the progressive agenda these days.

  •  Jean Carnahan was VOTED in. (7+ / 0-)

    Mel's name was in the ballot but every voter knew that she would be appointed to replace her husband upon his posthumous election.  She (or her ghost husband) went on to beat the despicable John Ashcroft, and the Senate (made up equally of Democrats and Republicans) promptly confirmed him as Attorney General so he could continue his depredations.

    Silvio Levy

  •  Wow, Kos, you really are off on a tear (21+ / 0-)

    When you devote even a tenth of the energy you're devoting to Kennedy to using whatever influence with the Democratic Party and public noise-making power you have to pursue justice against Bush, Cheney, and the rest of the war criminals I'll consider paying attention to your tantrums about Kennedy.

    •  Kos is 'full of himself' lately ie an (4+ / 0-)

      elitist ...

      When you find yourself in the majority, it's time to pause and reflect! ~ Mark Twain

      by shiloh on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 05:12:39 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  He's full of himself (6+ / 0-)

      He's full of himself right now, and so is Jane Hamsher.

      But all the kicking and screaming they are doing isn't going to accomplish one God Damn thing.

      Markos and Jan do have power, but only when they are reasonable and can garner the support from almost 100% of the people they give their message to.

      Neither have close to 100% support on this. In fact, I would say it's less than 50%.

      Which makes their virtual hissy fits irrelevant.

      McCain: US economic woes 'psychological'

      by DAVE DIAL on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 05:37:54 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  yeah, um, cause you know we kinda let Nixon go (0+ / 0-)

      and that worked out REALLY well for us when Cheney, Powell, Rumsfeld, Baker, Bush and Rove and all of Nixon's little fan-boys grew up to build their treasonous little fucking nightmare of an administration.

      Good god, does anyone understand the tiniest whit of historical context?

      We have one path: justice, accountability and personal responsibility (i.e. throw the fuckers in jail and punish the crap out them.)

      Or we could just let them all go free again, because, um, that has worked out so well for the last 30 years.

      Yeah, um, hmmm.  Issue? NonIssue?  Hmmm.

      Yeah, I think it's a really critical issue in moving our nation forward to debate the 17th Amendment.

  •  You're continuing to invent a controversy (14+ / 0-)

    we invest governors with lots of powers, do we want to subject every decision to a referendum? That's not what a republic is.

    Besides, if this were a real campaign she'd approach it the same way (round up the high profile endorsements and the top politicos) and she'd WIN ANYWAY.

    It's not like Patterson's considering appointing a baboon for Senator...(Besides, McConnell's already got a seat).

    --------
    Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.

    by PBJ Diddy on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 05:07:17 PM PST

  •  I figured out what the hair across Kos'... (4+ / 0-)

    ...ass is.

    As he says, appointing someone to fill a vacancy does not carry with it "the trappings of democracy."

    Even though the appointment is made by an elected official elected during a general (high turnout) election as opposed to a special (low turnout, manipulated) election.

    I'd rather have the wisest political choice made, and I'll beg off on those, um, trappings.

    This is not what I thought I'd be when I grew up.

    by itzik shpitzik on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 05:07:21 PM PST

    •  Additionally... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Miss Blue, itzik shpitzik

      It was democracy that established that the governor of the State of New York would be empowered to appoint someone to fill the vacancy of a US Senate seat.

      I am absolutely confused as to why this proposal is not democratic in nature.

      NARAL and HRC endorsed Lieberman. Therefore, I can no longer endorse them.

      by LeftofArizona on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 05:55:14 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  With all this railing against (4+ / 0-)

    "elitism", there better not be any arugula served at the dKos Inauguration Party.

    I am for the individual over government, government over big business, and the environment over all. - William O. Douglas

    by Its the Supreme Court Stupid on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 05:08:46 PM PST

  •  Great Idea. Democrats Should Promote Meritocracy (0+ / 0-)

    Use strict nepotism rules at all times for these appointments. Also ban all business associates/partners or past/present hirelings (anyone who once worked for the appointer).

    Those connected folks can hold office the legit way: get elected by the voters. All of those parties will have huge advantages anyway, but we should make every effort to bust up these dynasties (Bush, for one) so that our representative democracy will get a fresh infusion of new blood and ideas as time goes by.

    If that is so, then we must tend our own gardens then.

    by Otherday on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 05:09:31 PM PST

  •  I think we need to play poker with a deck (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Feanor

    of cards ... I'll call your Queen of Diamonds Caroline and raise you two Jacks Udalls. Oh wait, you probably have the King of Diamonds Teddy in the hole.

    What a mockery!

  •  Complaing of "elitism"?!? (4+ / 0-)

    Come on Kos, has it come to pushing this meme?  Are you really going down this road?  

  •  All hail Ceaser, and the Son of Ceaser, and the (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    StrayCat

    son of the son of Ceaser...

    Well, we all know how well that turned out for the Republic.

    I'm a progressive man, and I love progressive people - Tosh

    by VeganMilitia on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 05:12:43 PM PST

    •  er, my spelling: 'Caeser' .. and his sons (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      StrayCat

      by any other spelling were detrimental to the Republic.

      I'm a progressive man, and I love progressive people - Tosh

      by VeganMilitia on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 05:16:24 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Technically... (0+ / 0-)

      At the fall of the Republic, the son of Caesar wasn't the son of Caesar, and the next son of Caesar wasn't the son of Caesar either, and so on. They just adopted who they wanted as their successor and this was used as a way to legitimize their rule. Apparently the opposite of here, where we would rather Caroline Kennedy pretended her last name was Smith.

      Stephanie Dray
      of Jousting for Justice, a lefty blog with a Maryland tilt.

      by stephdray on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 08:25:17 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  re: Beau Biden (and maybe others) (5+ / 0-)

    For what it's worth, Beau Biden (and others like him) couldn't really divest themselves of their advantages even if they tried. Every politician who actually wants to get elected does their best to clear the field, suck up the resources, and plug into the networks before their primary or general-election competition can do it first. Beau can't very well ask the Delaware Democratic powers that be to pretend they've never met him and that he's just another Iraq vet-slash-Attorney General running for national office. He couldn't appropriately handicap himself even if he wanted to, and he shouldn't want to, if he actually thinks he'd do a good job.

    I'm not saying there's anything remotely desirable about our little faux-monarchies, which gave us Dubya thankyouverymuch and may yet give us Senator Jeb. But Beau, Andrew, certain Kennedys, the younger Jesse, and someday (probably) Chelsea, etc., are all at least plausibly smart and talented people in their own right, whose real advantage over the rest of us is in knowing first-hand that running for office is something actual mortals like Mom or Dad can do.

    It's our responsibility as voters to weed out the idiot princelings from the talented people who happen to be related to other politicians, not theirs. Hey, maybe we just can't quite bring ourselves to swallow a Kennedy-less Senate right at this moment in time. Okay, and if that weakness means that we the Democratic electorate are rewarded with a somewhat-less-than-optimal Senate as a result, fair enough. For now I'd say the union and the party will survive.

  •  I cannot imagine a bigger waste of time or energy (11+ / 0-)

    We have SERIOUS fucking problems and you guys want to play with Constitutional Amendments that would literally go nowhere.

    What a waste.

    Why not look at this the way it is - the law requires the Governor to appoint. The voters have their say in 2010. If you want to primary challenge the person who was appointed, you go for it. In the meantime, NY is ensuring 2 more years of seniority. NY gets a good Democrat who can be reelected easily in 2010 - against ANY Republican who may run (the same can't be said for all the other options). Kennedy can fundraise on her own (same can't be said for other options) freeing us up for donating our money to other Senate races which will be MUCH closer.

    Your obsession over this is starting to look bad.

    •  Actually (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      stephdray, Escamillo

      They don't need to amend the Constitution--the 17th Amendment already specifies elections to fill vacancies in the Senate: unless the legislature of the state in question has elected to allow the governor to make "temporary appointments until the people fill the vacancies by election as the legislature may direct."

      Seems to me that's exactly what kos and Bowers are blathering about. Not to mention that if they really think that a special election is somehow more democratic and less likely to result in dominance by dynasties or plutocrats, they should perhaps reflect that since these elections are by definition not regular, the only people who are likely to be able to capitalize on the opportunities they present are those with sufficient money and name recognition to have a prayer of winning on a short calendar. In short, the dynasts and the plutocrats.

      Oops.

  •  christ almighty Kos give it a rest. (10+ / 0-)

    jeez.

    This make what the 18 diary you did today on this? We GET it.

    I get both arguments, honestly I do. A sort of sickening feeling happens when i think entitlement. But then I think, why the fuck not?

    At the end of the day it not really all that important. Will she vote for Obama's agenda in those two years? YES? OK. Great. Let 2010 worry about itself.

    And quit bellyaching over this Kos. Please?

  •  Why not give it back to the State Legislatures .. (0+ / 0-)

    ... let the state legislators elect the fill-in Senator until the next regular Senate election.

  •  Biden's replacement is Ted Kaufman (0+ / 0-)

    I heard this on the radio like two hours ago, about the time you posted this.

    I really don't have an opinion on this, although generally I think the system has worked fine as is.

  •  Ugh. (7+ / 0-)

    Really? We have no bigger problems than this?

    Sheesh.

  •  Jeb Appoints Jenna; Palin appoints Piper (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Wufacta, StrayCat

    How would you feel about that?

    Seems appointments work great after the team wins a big election.  When the next time comes around and the fascists appoint their own, will you agree with those of us who think appointments aren't such a good thing?

    I'm a progressive man, and I love progressive people - Tosh

    by VeganMilitia on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 05:19:48 PM PST

  •  Elitism in Senate Appointments seems redundant. (6+ / 0-)

    I mean, aren't the majority of the Senators elite in some way? Isn't the Senate an elite body?

    I actually like Caroline Kennedy, and I think she'd do great things as a Senator. Although I like Cuomo, and apparently he'd been the leading contender before. But I'm not a New Yorker, so my opinion most likely doesn't count much. ;) I wonder how she polls in New York.

    At any rate, I didn't figure whomever they appointed would be anything other than "elite" in some manner of speaking. Regular people don't become Senators very often.

  •  Carnahan and Chafee were not nepotism. (0+ / 0-)

    They were appointed to fill out the terms of their dead relatives, a longtime tradition in US legislative history (virtually all early women officeholders took it that way).

    John Salazar, even, is an elected Congressman (and one could certainly argue that the most obvious man to fill out the mandate given to Ken S. by the voters would be his brother; not that I want John to get it, since we'd probably lose his seat).

  •  Pretty Silly idea... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    stephdray, Mary Julia, Miss Blue

    Like using a sledghammer to drive a penny nail...

    Using loaded words like monarchy, dynasty etc is just designed to paint a scary picture that does not exist.

    What it boils down to is an effort  to restrict voter choice based on an accident of birth or of marriage.

    For a party that was so vehemently against term limits because the voters should be trusted some sure seem to have swung the other way...

    This effort also smacks of naivete. As if those not a part of these so-called dynasties are just sitting on their front porch like Cinncinatus waiting to be called into service. No one gets appointed unless they have a political base and are well connected...regardless of who they are related too.

    Fact is, many of these people whose appointments you decry have turned out to be excellent public servants...precisely because they came from families dedicated to it.

    Sorry, one corrupt Governor is not worth changing the system for...

    •  Great comment (6+ / 0-)

      But now we are in the FOURTH diary by Kos about Caroline Kennedy. And you know what that means.  Can a fifth be far behind?

      Kos won't respond to any of the comments about Kennedy's qualifications or what she has done in her life.  He won't give her any credit for coming out for Obama EARLY over Clinton, the establishment Dem.  He's not concerned about statewide politics in NY, or the difficulty of running in TWO elections for this seat (2010 and 2012), or that Paterson has to run for election.

      No, Bowers and Kos, and Hamsher and Atrios (and even Maddow last night, and I thought she was smarter than this) are hung up on the fact that she's a Kennedy and therefore, she shouldn't get it.  Accident of birth, true, but hey, just because she would be a great candidate who could raise tons of money with instant name ID who could carry in upstate NY, nope, screw her, she's a Kennedy.

      What's next, Kos? Are you moving to NY to run to stop this unholy possibility? When is this nonsense going to stop?

      We do not rent rooms to Republicans.

      by Mary Julia on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 05:50:50 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  There are bigger problems to worry about (5+ / 0-)

    Seriously, we're talking about a possible Senator who will vote with Democrats most, if not all, of the time.  Who cares if that person is a Kennedy or some Congressman from upstate (or, heck, any accomplished New York lawyer, for that matter.)

  •  Life is unfair. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    magurakurin

    Tell us something we didn't know.

    I wish I could get worked up about a Senate seat (which, to be honest isn't exactly a monarchy).  It's the presidential seats where I have a real problem with dynasties.

    Given that the Senate is populated with a bunch of supposedly "qualified" people (Reid, Lieberman), most of whom I find I have no real use for (they remind me of the seagulls in "Finding Nemo" - "mine, mine, mine, mine, mine"), what's another appointment, crappy or otherwise?  

    I don't live in NY so it really doesn't much matter to me.  Kennedy is a Dem, what kind of Dem is always the question. I'm guessing "liberal", but I could be wrong. In the end she's just another Senator-one that will suck at it or won't suck at it. Given the ineffectiveness of that branch I'm not sure that it matters much who occupies the seat.  As to how she gets the seat, see above-life being unfair and all.

    I agree special elections is the best way to deal with these open seats, especially in light of Tweedledumbest of Chicago trying to sell it.  Who controls those strings to make it so?

    Do you ever get the feeling that the only reason we have elections is to find out if the polls were right? - Robert Orben

    by mentaldebris on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 05:25:32 PM PST

  •  So (5+ / 0-)

    The state goes un-represented until the special election can be held?  Or, if the election is held on a week's notice, what person who doesn't have high name recognition has a chance?

    This aggression will not stand, man.

    by kaleidescope on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 05:25:33 PM PST

  •  I don't think corruption's the argument to make (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Elise, NMLib

    I see no reason whyappointed Senators are any more vulnerable to corruption than people who are elected first.  I also don't see in any way how the process is any more open to corruption than any other process in our government.

    It seems to me that about 95% of corruption within government comes from those who are duly elected.

    In my opinion, it's just a really negative correlation your making(and in the process, unwittingly ignoring the broader question of elitism within our politics, which, if you ask me, is fairly equally distributed between those who come from privelage and those who don't.  There's also the fact that many(perhaps even most) of the people in elected office are in the position they are in because of some form of elitism - whether it's a Bob Casey who established a career in PA politics largely because of his father's reputation and career or an Al Gore, who certainly wasn't hurt by the fact that his father held the House seat Al would win and was a Senator before him(I can't say for certain they held the same Senate seat, but it doesn't matter)).

    Singling out appointments seems to be missing the forest for the trees.

    Harris Wofford was a special appointment to replace John Heinz.  He lost, but there was nothing untoward about his appointment.  And it certainly didn't make him more prone to corruption and unethical behavior simply because he was appointed.

    I agree with the argument that special elections are preferable and more in line with democratic principles.  It is much the same argument against  the caucus system in the primaries.  But then the argument was made that the caucuses were perfectly legal, but should be changed afterwards.  I fail to see why that doesn't apply here and can only assume pressure for an alternative is more because of support for other candidates than it is genuine disgust at the notion of Caroline Kennedy(gasp!) being appointed to a Senate seat.

    Let's allow Paterson to make his decision.  And then we won't have to worry about changing the rules in the middle of the game.  It can be done deliberately, thoughtfully and rationally without all the hyperbole currently fueling this debate.

  •  Much ao about nothing. (8+ / 0-)

    Progressives are such knee-jerk liberal pussies. Ask yourselves: how much of this hysteria about senate appointments would exist if Rod Blagojevich hadn't got caught in a pay for play about Obama's seat? How many at OpenLeft were up in arms when Hillary carpetbagged her way into the senate seat?

    Fuck Chris Bowers. Caroline Kennedy will make a fine junior senator.

    Our next mission: take down John McCain and Joe Lieberman to get to 60 in the Senate in 2010.

    by eclecticbrotha on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 05:30:18 PM PST

    •  well, OpenLeft didn't exist back then (0+ / 0-)

      thankfully.

      I would have hit recommend on your post if you hadn't used the "p" word, since you hit the nail on the head on everything else.  Especially the bit about that irrelevant Bowers character - that was the guy who concern-trolled Jim Webb to death back in 2006 during a time when he should instead have been campaigning for him, and I haven't forgotten, nor forgiven.

  •  Either way the voters will get their say (6+ / 0-)

    at the special election. If they don't want any of the candidates that you object to they will pick a different primary challenger or the Republican.

    And linking Caroline Kennedy to Lieberman simply because she hired someone who worked for him is stretching it. That doesn't mean that she supports Lieberman or his positions. In fact, as Caroline Kennedy worked for Obama, the last thing that she would do is support someone who campaigned for McCain.

  •  Blame the Constitution, I'm fine with that. (10+ / 0-)

    but don't blame Caroline Kennedy when appointments are a normal part of the process in America, and having a name being an advantage is a normal part of the process as well, and they happen to both occur in this particular situation.

    I actually haven't heard you crying about the Udall name, or the Sarbanes name, or any other of the countless politicians who are aided by their name.  In fact, I've seen you brag countless times about how Republican X wasn't going to be able to beat a certain name in a political race.  

    But now you are a purist?  Be a fair purist, say screw all democrats who have careers aided by something their spouse or family member did!  Screw them!  It doesn't matter if it hurts electing democrats.  The new purpose of dailykos will be to break the evil human response known as name recognition, which allows for political nepotism to take place in America!

    I like Michelle more than Barack.

    by duha on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 05:33:45 PM PST

    •  "elitism" vs. "nepotism" (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      supak, duha

      I knew there had to be a post somewhere starting
      to tease apart the blurred connotations here.  Unfortunately,
      "elite" is often applied to anyone with a PhD or
      any advanced degree, even if their parents had no
      degree past high school, and they worked their way
      through college and advanced degree.

      Strangely, there is a history in the USA of such anti-intellectualism, even attacking those with humble roots, while conversely, it is part of the American folklore, that anyone can learn enough and work hard enough to "accomplish their dreams".  And if you don't, it's your fault.

      Anyway, Kos, please make sure to distinguish between Nepotism and plain hard work.

      Thx,
      Bennie

  •  I agree (0+ / 0-)

    about the sentiment of eliminating the powers of the governor to fill senate vacancies.  However, this is missing the point.  We are electing these corrupt bastards into office (over and over).  I am losing faith in goverment more and more.  Maybe it's the election hangover talking, but seriously I can not name one honest politician.  Come to think of it, I'm having a hard time naming one honest, decent person.  We reap what we sow.

    "The Only Thing We Have to Fear Is Fear Itself" - Franklin Delano Roosevelt

    by djbender on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 05:36:39 PM PST

  •  KOS, almost everybody here was talking money (0+ / 0-)

    Obama's fundraising helped him out in the election, right?

    Name recognition in the USA will help you out too. Connections and the right degree from an Ivy League school will take you pretty far.

    The system is NOT based on merit or achievements.

    Maybe one day...

    •  The right degree is proof of merit. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      AmericanRiverCanyon

      Unless you want to emulate the 'no nothing' Republicans, why would you not see that the right degree is proof of merit. I'm n ot talking about some legacy degree from Harvard Business School - I'm talking about being at the top of your class at Harvard Law. Shit, getting a B.A. from Columbia is proof of some serious intelligence and work ethic. These are real achievements. What do you think would equal them?

  •  This is becoming a joke (7+ / 0-)

    Since when is having high name recognition, good fundraising ability, and a connection to the incoming Democratic president a bad thing. Kos, I like your site, and I tend to agree with special elections, but for a site that wants to elect strong Democrats. Maybe the next time you shouldn't so aggressively push for people like Tom Udall to run in New Mexico (I strongly supported Udall's run early on and in the general and I support Caroline Kennedy, she'll be an excellent Senator for my brother in Brooklyn).

  •  Carolyn Kennedy Would be a Great Senator (3+ / 0-)

    Half of the freaking Congress are legacy candidates. Chris Bowers' honey, Hillary Clinton, won on her last named. I can't help but think that you and Chris are against Carolyn because she supported Obama - neither of you could really disguise your dissatisfaction with his candidacy.

    Being a professional politician should disqualify every potential politician from higher office. A joke like Gary Ackerman opposes Carolyn's candidacy. Suckling at the public teat does not make someone a statesman - it makes them a parasite! I don't like the idea of people being elected because of their name recognition but I don't like politicians who are there because they are making more money than they could in the private sector. No one has explained to me why any New York pol would be better as Senator, so why not a Kennedy.

  •  I'm for the idea of a constitutional amendment (0+ / 0-)

    The costs of holding a special election for statewide office are brutal, but nothing like as brutal as the corruption of the appointment process.

    There's a downside for Democrats, though -- we need to get better at special election voter mobilization.  Texas in 1993, the trainwreck of a senate special that elevated Kay Bailey Hutchison to Lloyd Bentsen's seat, is a good illustration of this, even allowing for the weaknesses of Kruger as a Democratic candidate.

    Aside from TX and AK, does anyone else do specials for senate seats?

  •  Governors Used to Appoint *ALL* Senators (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    stephdray
    Until the 17th Amendment in 1913, no senator was ever elected by the people. Instead, each state had a law directing how their state government would appoint a senator. Usually it was the state legislature's ballot that selected a senator. Which meant states were parliamentary systems whose majority party selected a senator representing their party. Or the governor appointed the. Because the Constitutional role of a senator is to represent their state's government, not its people (the House of Representatives is "the people's house") to the Federal government, that process probably seemed appropriate for a long time. But as more people got the vote, more people wanted the vote to control more offices.

    But since 1913, a bunch of senators have continued to be appointed, to fill vacancies. The work of 1913 should be completed, and all senators should be elected, even to fill vacancies. Removing that ancient perk of the legislature majority or the governor would also mean that insiders like senators might not get "promoted" as often, because that would risk their party losing the senator's seat, and more outsiders might be chosen instead.

    "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

    by DocGonzo on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 05:45:11 PM PST

    •  Did you read the 17th Amendment? (0+ / 0-)

      Or just link to it?

      It specifically states:

      When vacancies happen in the representation of any State in the Senate, the executive authority of such State shall issue writs of election to fill such vacancies: Provided, That the legislature of any State may empower the executive thereof to make temporary appointments until the people fill the vacancies by election as the legislature may direct.

      •  Of Course I Did (0+ / 0-)

        What's your point?

        "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

        by DocGonzo on Wed Dec 17, 2008 at 05:41:19 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Did you specifically read the first sentence (0+ / 0-)

          of the above blockquote? Because it provides for exactly what you wanted: elections to fill vacancies in the Senate. All you have to do is convince the 50 state legislatures not to allow appointments.

          •  Finish the Job (0+ / 0-)

            Yes, and as we're discussing, and you're now agreeing, the states haven't done so. Many states instead direct that the temporary appointment be replaced by the next regularly scheduled election, which can be as long as 6 years away.

            So don't insult me with obnoxious but inane questions like whether I read the 17th Amendment. You can discuss the finer points without coming off like a jerk.

            "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

            by DocGonzo on Wed Dec 17, 2008 at 06:24:22 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Wow, sensitive much? (0+ / 0-)

              My point was that it's stupid, pointless, and inane to insist on another amendment to the Constitution when the means for achieving what you want are already provided for in the document. I happen to think the idea that all vacancies should be filled by special elections equally stupid, inane, and pointless, but that's beside the point.

              •  Inanity (0+ / 0-)

                The Amendment has allowed the problem of appointments until the next regular election, which is the problem we're discussing. I never said we need another amendment, just more immediate elections.

                You just asked me an obnoxious question, like whether I read the 17th Amendment I just based my comment on and linked to. Even though I obviously have, and your implication that the Amendment conflicts with my comment is wrong. When I call you out on being obnoxious, I'm "sensitive".

                You're an asshole. Does that bother you? Maybe you're too sensitive. But judging from your posts, I doubt it.

                "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

                by DocGonzo on Wed Dec 17, 2008 at 08:12:27 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

  •  What a fu**ing joke this site (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    stephdray, magurakurin, Miss Blue

    is becoming with this idiotic Kennedy obsession. Have you considered a vacation? Or therapy?

  •  B R A V O . . . K O S . . . ! ! ! ! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    StrayCat

    Exactly.

    Without some effort to head back to the ideal of democracy, to what this country was supposed to be, to what this country should be, we are all well and truly fucked.

    What we call god is merely a living creature with superior technology & understanding. If their fragile egos demand prayer, they lose that superiority.

    by agnostic on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 05:46:54 PM PST

  •  Kos is being unrealistic (4+ / 0-)

    If Caroline Kennedy didn't have the support of a large chunk of the populace of NY, Gov. Patterson could tell her to get lost.  She's not the only political figure in New York.

    But Patterson can't do that.  And it's not because Kennedy has the support of a bunch of local politicians -- that's about fundraising for the election in two years.  It's because a lot of people from NY know who she is, and like her.  She has more popular support than any of the other candidates for the Senate appointment.

  •  I decided that the best answer is... (0+ / 0-)

    PIE for Kos.

  •  I would rather see a repeal of the 17th. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    canyonrat

    People giving a damn about their state legislatures again would be pretty nice, and restoring the process of the state legislatures electing Senators would go a long way towards doing it.

    Kind of tired of Senators just being 'super representatives'.

    The probability that we may fail in the struggle ought not to deter us from the support of a cause we believe to be just.

    by fifty7 on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 05:51:31 PM PST

  •  Wrong battle kos (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    stephdray, Larry Madill

    Why are you choosing to fight against nepotism the ONE freaken time it will actually benefit us? There are so many other things to get pissed off about. I find it ironic that we're arguing about the one appointment Obama can't make when the ones he's been making so far are atrocious.

    "There are some things I don't understand. I don't understand how we ended up invading a country that had nothing to do with 9/11." - Next POTUS Obama

    by Cleopatra on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 05:51:41 PM PST

  •  this is getting ridiculous (4+ / 0-)

    all of this from Caroline Kennedy?

    Good gravy this is becoming seriously overwrought.

  •  Oh for F**k's Sake, you'd think it was one of the (5+ / 0-)

    .... Spawn of Satan™  Bush twins that was being considered for the appointment.

    Democrat, liberal ? yes
    Washington, national, international experience in public eye? yes
    Law Degree? yes
    Resident of New York? yes
    Scandals?  no

    I hope Patterson does appoint her because it would drive the moron Republican Congressperson the dead enders just sent to DC in my district absolutely crazy.  And if that isn't enough for you, you're hopeless.  

    "Toads of Glory, slugs of joy... as he trotted down the path before a dragon ate him"-Alex Hall/ Stop McClintock

    by AmericanRiverCanyon on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 05:59:10 PM PST

  •  A Constitutional Amendment is NOT the answer to (7+ / 0-)

    every problem with a vaguely political nature for fuck's sake. Will people stop trying to muck around with the Constitution for every single little issue?

  •  Given the strong, deep, and wide bench (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    pundit, Wufacta

    in New York and the perceived "front-runner" status of someone that is not a member of the strong, deep and wide bench I have to agree wholeheartedly.

    Nothing against Ms. Kennedy but she has done nothing to deserve this Senate seat and there are any number of very qualified, very capable, very experienced, New York elected officials at both the state and federal level that have earned their way onto that bench.

    Carolyn Maloney, Nita Lower, Judith Kaye, Kirsten Gillibrand, Brian Higgins, Nydia Velasquez, Steve Israel, and heck! If you want a "name" candidate then you have Andrew Cuomo who has done far more to deserve the opportunity then Kennedy.

    Personally after having given this a lot of thought and consideration over the last several weeks I've decided to publicly advocate for Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand. She is not as experienced as some of the candidates but she has all the qualities that would make an excellent, excellent US Senator.

    And, unlike the "perceived front-runner" with the big name, Kirsten Gillibrand has worked her rear end off the last 4 years and has shown no signs of stopping now that she is secure in her congressional seat. She is a dynamo!

    Peace,

    Andrew

  •  Sooo (3+ / 0-)

    witht he economy in meltdown, Iraq precarious, Cheney/Bush admitting war crimes,we obsess about appointing a woman who is intelligent, capable, comes for a family committed to public service and whose father believed that a rising tide lifts all boats?  No wonder the country is going to hell in a handbasket.

    Is Caroline less experienced than Paul Wellstone when he was elected? Al Franken if he is elected? How about Montana's Jon Tester?  Geez, give it a rest.

    He has risen with his honor, grace and civility intact. Chicago Tribune endorsement of Barack Obama

    by MufsMom on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 06:06:59 PM PST

  •  Geez, man... (5+ / 0-)

    when did Caroline Kennedy snub you?

    I remember when this site used to be about promoting progressive Democrats, not opposing them. If getting more such people elected is the goal, what's the point of having "caretaker" officials who would stand little chance of re-election? Surely the best strategy would be to appoint the best candidate that could run an effective campaign against a Rudy Giuliani in 2010. I can't think of a better candidate than Caroline Kennedy. The assumption that anyone who comes from a well-known political family is necessarily a feckless, dissolute dilettante is fallacious and, in this case, erroneous. Do you know anything about Caroline Kennedy - or have you been unable to get past her name?

    It's also worth pointing out that if "Beau" Biden weren't in Iraq, he probably would have been appointed to fill his father's seat. And, it need hardly be pointed out, governors making such appointments may not seem like "the right way" to you, but it is the legal way. I appreciate that you are now calling for a Constitutional amendment as a matter of urgency, but with so much wrong with our electoral system, focusing on gubernatorial appointments strikes me as being unmitigatedly trivial.

    If you are that upset by political patronage and the advancement of the rich, powerful, and famous, perhaps you should be lobbying for the elimination of political parties. Our Founders were more opposed to them than they were to, say, John Quincy Adams having a political career. (Oh, yeah, you also left the names  Roosevelt, Taft, Gore, and Cuomo off your list of evil dynasties - among many, many others.)

    You think there might be anything else going on in the world, man? You are making yourself and this site look ridiculous and petty - even more ridiculous and petty than during your demonization of the Clintons.

    Oh, but wait - all the people who loved the Clintons are supposed to be the ones hating Caroline Kennedy. I'm confused, Kos. Who am I supposed to be hating this week?

  •  there is a simple solution for those who fear (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    stephdray, Miss Blue, NMLib, Escamillo

    the ever-present elitism of our current system.

    There is only one system that is 100%, truly and completely, unabashedly, DEMOCRATIC.

    RANDOM SELECTION. Completely random, jury-duty/lottery-style random selection.

    Otherwise you are just trading one elite for another.

    Random is the only true democracy.

    As far as Caroline Kennedy goes, this is quite simply not a big deal.  I do not think it is a worthwhile thing to get worked up about.

    1. she's not been appointed yet.  Let's wait and see who gets appointed before we scream crooked.
    1. Umm.  She's Caroline Kennedy -- she's probably, given her open and unbashed support of Barack Obama, pretty reasonably to the left of Hillary Clinton, and further, a long-time New Yorker instead of a carpet-bagger.
    1. Further, this site really went ga-ga about even the idea of Hillary being president.  Are you saying Caroline Kennedy would make a worse Senator than Hillary Clinton?  Personally, I think she'd do fine.
    1. As pointed out NUMEROUS times, historically, very few appointed Senators hold the seat.  Even if appointed, the track record for appointed vs elected is very very clear -- folks who get appointed to the job historically do poorly when seeking the office on their own.  It's a nominal advantage, if even that.
    1. While I see the arguement against (and I really understand, and respect it) -- this country has shown pretty clearly that we don't have any real objection to Dynasty Politics.  Bush, Clinton, Roosevelt, Rockafeller -- the list is essentially endless.

    So while YOU obviously don't like it, most of America appears to mostly care less.

    1. America was robbed, twice, of what the Kennedy family might have offered us politically.  There are some who wish we might have found out.  Say what you will about Ted Kennedy, but one thing remains true -- he's been a stalwart on progressive issues every moment and day he has been in the Senate.

    Do you truly opine that Caroline would be that different from her family?

    I get everyones distaste for this.  Completely understandable.  But let's see what happens.

    As far as Caroline Kennedy herself, I mostly reserve judgement.  Here is what I know so far:

    1. strong, open, loud supporter of Senator Obama.
    1. helped pick Joe Biden as the running mate.

    Both of these things tell me quite a lot about her.

    And so far, I like her.  I say good luck.

  •  kos, this is lame. (4+ / 0-)

    But the Biden situation, that of the voter-driven monarchy, is unsolvable.

    The people of Delaware will decide whom to serve them. Yes, name recognition is one thing; but Beau Biden will have served in Iraq, currently serves the people of Delaware as their Attorney General and has practiced law in multiple cases at the State level.

    He will have to be elected in 2010, and yes that's democracy at work. Now if that's not a reasonable resume with which to run for Senator, residents of The First State know what to do: Not vote for him.

    This reads more like a lamentation of those in privileged positions rather than to point out the well-publicized corruption of making appointments to other congressional seats.

    Chris Bower's point is noted, and so is your prospective acceptance of it. I disagree that taking a State's right to determine their own representatives by handing it over to the Federal Government via a Constitutional Amendment is the answer.

    That would make the case for aristocracy even stronger, not less likely.

    "Hew out of the mountain of despair A Stone of Hope." -Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

    by Patch Adam on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 06:21:23 PM PST

    •  concur. My DE peeps like Beau a great deal. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Patch Adam

      The word on the street was he was gearing up to run anyway.  Everyone I have talked to says Beau is a solid guy, not unlike his dad.

      If he was going to run anyway, and he runs for a seat that is effectively open, he would do well.

      If he was appointed, then ran for the seat, he is also likely to do well.

      I think Beau would/will do great either way.  I'm hoping he stays safe in Iraq, 'cause that strikes me as a pretty damn shitty place for a future Senate candidate, but thus is life I suppose.

      Here is the problem in DE.  I know this because I lived there a VERY long time.  And I know it's politics very well.

      1. Delaware has a deep, untapped, underutilized bench of great prospective Democratic congressional candidates.
      1. Not a one of them has had a chance to run in the last ~30 years because Roth-Biden-Carper, then Biden-Carper-Castle have so dominated that not one of them has ever mounted a serious challenge to the incumbents.  
      1. Delaware is a really really small state, physically and electorally.  That means it is incredibly easy for folks like Biden and Castle to develop REAL rapport with their consituents.  I would bet Joe Biden has shaken the hand of a HUGE percentage of the Delaware population.  EVERYONE knows him.
      1. That rapport is a HUGE advantage.  Thus, other DE dems are unlikely to ever seriously challenge "the big three" as we used to call them.
      1. Picking Kaufman -- a Biden loyalist and known quantity is a "safe" choice, in that no one gets mad about it.  He's basically Biden round 2, and everyone knows it.   But more importantly, the DE Democrats make a pick that doesn't hurt the feelings of the NUMEROUS Delaware democrats eagerly eyeing the Senate seat.  It's a safe, non-threatening, easy choice.
      1. This allows Beau and the rest of the peanut gallery to fight it out in 2010.  Beau has some advantages, in that his name is high-recognition and very respected, and that he is the State Attorney General.  But in all fairness, Mike Castle (R) wants that seat too, and without his good friend Joe Biden in it, Castle might make his move (finally?) -- so it's basically an open seat race with Beau & Mike Castle both having some early advantages.

      But it will go to the voters in 2010. It's our system, it ain't perfect, but in DE it seems to be working fine.

  •  UMMM. People, Jim Bunning is also a "senator", or (0+ / 0-)

    good god, Tom Coburn, and also such mighty political powerhouses as Orrin Hatch.

    Does it in any way benefit our side to get bent-out-of-shape about an actual, open, liberal with a true progressive philosophy when 40% of the Senators are complete shnooks?

    In the context of the US Senate, Caroline Kennedy would be a breath of fresh air.

    (p.s., my great idea du jour.)

    Patterson & NY Senate Democratic leader Smith have a bit of a problem, in that certain Democrats have been threatening to NOT caucus with the Senate Dems if Smith is Majority Leader.  Smith has wisely called their bluff, 'cause they too are shnooks of the worst type.

    Patterson solves all problems at once:

    1. appoints Senate Majority Leader Smith to the US Senate seat, creating a vacancy in the NY Senate.
    1. the Senate caucus in NY State elects another of the remaining 31 as Majority Leader.
    1. the 3 NY-Senate-Dem-Shnooks are burned and badly embarrased.
  •  My Q for CB: one of the more egregious examples? (0+ / 0-)

    The power of Governor's to appoint vacant Senate seats is one of the more egregious examples of this.

    I wonder what are some other examples of dynasty and elitism, Chris Bowers? John Quincy Adams?

    Oh, and the plural possessive of Governor is Governors'? Right?

  •  While we're at it... (0+ / 0-)

    ...abolish the office of Vice President.  Let the Majority Leader break ties, and the Speaker appoint an acting president pending a special election.  No more impeachment insurance.

    Half-baked ideas for sale - cheap!

    by Steaming Pile on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 06:41:15 PM PST

  •  I'm a New Yorker, actually (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    stephdray

    a Western New Yorker (57 years on Grand Island). Though I realize that this is a national seat we New Yorkers have a more vested interest in the appointment. Do I need to remind anyone that the elitist celebrity known as Hillary Rodham Clinton carpetbagged her way into the seat she is vacating? Mrs. Clinton made huge promises to upstate voters twice. In her first term she did squat and in her abbreviated second term she ran for president, again accomplishing squat for upstate. I am of the opinion that we will be much better off with a Senator Kennedy than we have been with a Senator Clinton and that is all that is important to me. I agree with the arguments against celebrity or dynasty or entitlement but the reality is that the current rules are what they are and under those rules Caroline Kennedy will be the best choice.  

    "Sometimes I sits and thinks, and sometimes I just sits." - Satchel Paige

    by 75RedSox on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 06:47:05 PM PST

  •  Ha Ha (0+ / 0-)

    The problem here isn't that candidates trade off their name for electoral advantage, it's when they trade off that name for a political appointment, bypassing the trappings of democracy in order to be handed something by fiat.

    Why do we keep blaming the candidate? If you elect the right governor they can simply say no.

    And, there is this:

    a Constitutional Amendment that would eliminate the power of governors to fill Senate vacancies

    The Senate has ultimate power over this.

    "Mr. President, I'm not saying we wouldn't get our hair mussed." General Buck Turgidson

    by muledriver on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 06:54:38 PM PST

  •  Poppycock (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    canyonrat, stephdray, magurakurin

    This is a tempest in a teapot, kos, and you know it. First, the Senate is supposed to operate by different rules from those appropriate for the House. Need I remind you (and Bowers) that as originally set out in the federal Constitution, all senators were appointed?

    More importantly, what the fuck do you need another amendment for? The Seventeenth gives you everything you need:

    When vacancies happen in the representation of any State in the Senate, the executive authority of such State shall issue writs of election to fill such vacancies: Provided, That the legislature of any State may empower the executive thereof to make temporary appointments until the people fill the vacancies by election as the legislature may direct.

    It's just now coming to your attention that there are political and cultural dynasties in the United States? Where have you been the last half-century, during which time there has always been a Dole or a Bush on the ballot somewhere (and probably a Kennedy most of that time)? If it were such a burning issue, don't you think someone would have done something about it by now?

    Special elections are lose-lose-lose propositions. Nobody has the opportunity to prepare for them, so the candidates we get are usually, gee, the rich and well-connected who are able to get something up and running in a short timeframe. That's really democratic, right?

    Then there's the fact that voter turnout is usually quite abysmal, meaning that it's only the hyperpartisans who are likely to participate, which is likely to skew the results. Not to mention the huge expense involved. (Estimates are from $30 million to $50 million here in Illinois--and we're already $2 billion in the hole this year, thankyouverymuch. If we're going to have to spend another $50 million, I'd just as soon have my tax dollars go toward something useful, like maybe fixing some of our crappy roads, or buying enough salt that our cities and counties can afford to keep the roads reasonably passable this winter, which is looking to be even colder and snowier than last year's was, and that was the coldest and snowiest winter we've had in a couple of decades.)

    The Republicans are pushing--strongly--to have the Obama vacancy filled by an election. Why? Because it's about the only chance they're likely to have to grab the seat--and they're looking desperate to hold on to as many as they can, a desperation that seems likely to increase if Al Franken wins in Minnesota (as seems likely to happen) or if Coleman winds up being the next Republican to get hammered by a federal indictment, which is not exactly out of the realm of possibility. They'd like for us to forget that salient fact, and also the fact that not all Democrats are corrupt (not even all Illinois Democrats). They'd really like for us to forget that in Illinois, the governor and the lieutenant governor, while they run as a unified ticket in the general, are in fact nominated separately. Pat Quinn was not Blagojevich's choice for a running mate, and he isn't tainted by Blagojevich's corruption--a point the Republicans conveniently omit to mention in the ads they're already running.

    So why are you helping do their dirty work for them?

  •  Yeah, that Barack Obama had every advantage... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    canyonrat

    we live in a world where the right name, the right checking account balance, and the right connections allow people to get ahead over those less fortunate.

    •  check back in 25 years (0+ / 0-)

      when his daughters are grown.  His children's children will prosper in turn, never wanting for anything.  If rewards were distributed more evenly it might not matter.  But ordinary children will be pauperized, and no amount of noblesse oblige will help them.  

      I happen to like Caroline Kennedy, but I'm ambivalent about her elevation.  We shouldn't mindlessly condone a princes/paupers kind of society, and yet here we are.  And taxpayers pay for better pensions and healthcare for Senators than we receive ourselves.

  •  I think that Kos is just amazing ... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    stephdray, Escamillo

    He has made a fine website, and the way it is organized, and the incredible depth of content puts it at the top of its class, in my opinion.  But, kos has slipped off the logical edge with this "elitist" argument.  After all, aren't the "Republicans" the ones always screaming "elitist" when they can't find anything bad to say about their opposing candidate.  "He is elitist, he read David Copperfield in high school" or some such thing.  Elitist is the wrong argument.  if you want to have a campaign to have  voting only for Senate, then do so, but don't drag people into the mix.  Stick with the ideas. I don't think the ideas work either, it is by definiton a Temporary position,

    As far as the New York Senate appointment is concerned, there are candidates qualified and they will be reviewed by David Paterson, Governor.  One of the issues is 'upstate' representation.  The last time there was an "upstate' Senator, he was appointed by Gov, Rockefeller (elected 1958), to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Senator Keating.  Nelson (in NYS we are familiar with our officials) appointed Rep. Charles Goodell to fill out the term.  Goodell was from Western NY, on the Great Lakes, a popular congressman.  He lost badly in the election and was never heard from again.( David, take note!).  An upstate appointment will do Gov. Paterson no good politically, and therefore it will not help the constituants of New York either.  

    Candidate Kennedy , an attorney of the New York Bar,has written 2 books on arcane Constitutional issues, such as PRIVACY.  I , for one, would have liked to have had a Senator steeped in that issue for the last 8 years, years which our right to privacy has been seriously eroded.  

    New York has a wide ranging and intelligent citizenry.  We need support for the Arts of all kinds, Education is a top priority for our parents, We appreciate our civil rights, and have the usual 'pot hole' requirements.  (And the other 49 may be in the same prediciment).  Caroline Kennedy would and will serve our purposes excellently.  

  •  Hillarity! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    magurakurin

    Voter Driven Monarchy! Buahahahahaha!

    Methinks Markos isn't as big a fan of Democracy as he thinks he is. Also, that he needs to take a refresher course in Poly Sci 101 on what monarchy really means. Hint: It's not when citizens elect people to a representative government who happen to be related to one another.

    Stephanie Dray
    of Jousting for Justice, a lefty blog with a Maryland tilt.

    by stephdray on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 07:52:13 PM PST

    •  Why should Markos be an opinion leader? (0+ / 0-)

      Just because he has high status and visibility doesn't make him particularly wise -- he's a beneficiary of fame, as is CKS. That's a fact of how our society works.

  •  Here's why you're wrong (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    stephdray, magurakurin

    Kos -- you write:

    "There is an endemic problem of dynasties and elitism in our political process."

    That presumes that the reality of the popular appeal of "dynasties" (the term is really a false description) is a problem. In fact, especially when it is one family member replacing another, there are really excellent reasons to applaud that maneuver. The family member is presumed to carry on the legacy of the outgoing or deceased elected representative. Who could better fill the mandate of the people? The people voted for one family member. It's not illogical to turn to another family member to fulfill the voter's expectations.

    THe real problem is whether or not to allow appointments. The thing is, we don't like short campaigns, or snap elections -- they don't allow the time to feel out the different candidates and have a broad debate. On the other hand, to leave a position vacant for months does a great public disservice. That tension is resolved by having short-term appointments.

    You seem to find value in a caretaker appointment. I think that's a waste. IN Massachusetts, when JFK was elected President, a family friend served in his Senate seat, until Teddy was old enough to run for it. That was a waste of a Senate seat. How could someone in his position achieve anything in a body where chits are kept and cashed? There wasn't even any incentive for him to excel in the position, since he was never going to face the voters.

    I would say the real problem is the "caretaker" appointment.

    Caroline Kennedy would be a great appointment, because of her celebrity. SHe will not have to spend 80% of her workday making calls to raise money. Moreover, she will be in a stronger position to gain election in 2010 than almost any other possible appointee. That means she can take chances and use her best judgment in serving the people of New York.

    Shouldn't that be the real test?

    Coming Soon -- to an Internet connection near you: Armisticeproject.org

    by FischFry on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 07:55:18 PM PST

  •  i'm starting to wonder (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    magurakurin

    whether political dynasties are Kos's white whale.  If Beau Biden gets elected because he's popular with the voters due to his dad, thus perpetuating a political dynasty, isn't that one of the built-in features (I won't necessarily call it a weakness) of democracy?  There's a reason Joe Biden is popular and why that popularity would lead to electoral success for his son.  Why is that so bad?  If JFK were a terrible president, would there have been a Kennedy political dynasty?  It is rewarding some level of success, I think.  And that's a feature of democracy.  If appointment of senators were our main method of selection we would have a problem.  It's not - it's what happens when the seat gets vacated.  And someone on the front page posted recently that there is little carryover effect from midterm appointees getting an incumbent bump.  So I'm back to the white whale theory.

    louise 'hussein' to you! proud donor to "White Dudes for Obama" Endorsed 11/1/07 and never looked back!

    by louisev on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 08:53:08 PM PST

  •  With great power (0+ / 0-)

    There seems to be a great rumbling over what is basically a procedural question. If Caroline Kennedy ran for an open U.S. Senate seat in New York, she'd likely win. And if a majority of New Yorkers feel that she'd make the best senator, then she ought to be voted in. What's more, the debate on this thread has persuaded me that she might well make an excellent senator.

    But if she were appointed by Gov. Paterson, she'd likely clear the Democratic field of legitimate contenders, and that does strike me as something of a disservice. To me, appointing Ms. Kennedy to the seat creates an unseemly appearance. Appearance is not the same thing as reality, but it should be taken seriously.

    Just because someone was born with a famous last name, that does not preclude the possibility that she is the most qualified person for the job. But sometimes elected officials have an obligation to go above and beyond to prevent the appearance of impropriety. If Gov. Paterson were to appoint a caretaker senator, he would go above and beyond to ensure that the next elected Senator from New York came by the position squarely. But this he should do.

    To imply that someone should eschew public office because of her lineage is too great a burden to lay on the conveniently sired. To insist that those of unusual pedigree take great pains to ensure they are subjected to unfettered democratic process is decidedly not. Gov. Paterson should appoint a caretaker to the seat. And if Ms. Kennedy runs for the seat in 2010 and effectively appeals for my support, I might even lend it to her.

  •  I have nothing against Caroline (0+ / 0-)

    Kennedy Schlossberg as a candidate.  Apparently she did well in her work for Obama.  She's picked her time well, a sign of political skill.

    I also have nothing against Beau Biden, who seems to be talented and personable.

    And I have nothing against Jesse Jackson, Jr, and I hope that if he did nothing blameworthy in the Blago scandal that he escapes without harm.  I appreciate the work he did as an Obama surrogate.

    Bottom line:  I'm OK to see any of these candidates go to the Senate.  But the thought of two or three of them makes me a little queasy.  It's a, "Dude, where's my country?" feeling.

  •  Elitism? Isn't that a right wing talking point? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rachel Q

    I don't necessarily disagree with your general point here Kos but I think you need to find another word than 'elitism' to describe baronial inheritance in American politics.

    (1) it's a codeword the right uses shamelessly to refer to anybody with half a clue, as if to say "you think you're better than JT Plumber, don't you?"

    (2) in the truest sense, I'd welcome a little elitism in government - I want the best of the best to run the show for a while instead of C minus legacies.

    I think "legacy" politician is a better term than "elitist" for what you're describing.

    I don't belong to any organized political party. I'm a democrat. -- Will Rogers

    by TheCrank on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 10:05:29 PM PST

  •  The Biden Monarchy! (0+ / 0-)
    That is fucking awesome hyperbole!

    I love kos.

  •  Has become? (0+ / 0-)

    Was there a time when it wasn't?

  •  Same about Carnahan in MO or Landrieu in LA? (0+ / 0-)

    In the moment of be critics with dinasties, not must forget no-one.

  •  This is a tie one hand behind your back argument (0+ / 0-)

    Because the GOP, no matter what system, is going to weigh name recognition and reputation as factors in assessing candidacies.

    The perfect is indeed the enemy of the good.

  •  Father, Son politics (0+ / 0-)

    Putting aside the elitist issues from Governor's backfilling Senate seats, the voter concept that a son may be a good fit for a political post isn't that bad. The reasoning follows that the son of a political figure whose views you "approved" of may actually have many of the same views as his father, thus may be a good match to your vote. And on the flip side, if you hated the father's views you won't expect the son to be much different.

    Now the entire state-managed process of replacing elected officials should be changed to the federal level or at least mandated that they must be "elected". I like the "caretaker" arrangement as we always need someone looking out for us even when its vacant. I worry that Obama is picking too many sitting U.S. Senators for his administration. Will this impact the overall balance in 2009?

    Wynter

    "Anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job." - Hitchhiker's Guide

    by Wynter on Wed Dec 17, 2008 at 04:23:28 AM PST

  •  Markos what if your son takes over your blog? (0+ / 0-)

    Would that be a dynasty?

    Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.

    by DiAnne on Wed Dec 17, 2008 at 05:30:53 AM PST

  •  This is a rational post (0+ / 0-)

    on this topic.

    Its valuable to discuss the constitutionality of appointments system under the 17th amendment.

    Then again - I think you could cut the last 2-3 paragraphs.  We get your opinion already.  ;)

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