Barack Obama, born in Hawaii and a citizen of Illinois, seems to have a veto power over who will be the Democratic Party’s senate candidate in New York State in 2010. Actual rank and file members of the New York State Democratic Party, on the other hand, won’t have any say at all, thanks to Obama’s meddling.
Kirsten Gillibrand was appointed to Hillary Clinton’s vacant seat in the U.S. Senate by New York Governor David Paterson earlier this year. Gillibrand had served just one term in the U.S. House of Representatives. She hasn’t done much during her time in the Senate so far, other than to court the favor of people in power. Yet, her inexperience and inaction seem not to disqualify her from being anointed the Democratic choice again in 2010.
President Obama is moving to eliminate primary challengers to Gillibrand in the upcoming Senate election. This week, Barack Obama called U.S. Representative Steve Israel to refrain from entering the race, just days before his official campaign announcement was to have been held. Israel complied.
After getting the call from Obama, Israel issued a statement explaining that he was dropping out “in the interest of providing New York and our country with a united front for progressive change”. What a crock. Kirsten Gillibrand is no progressive. She’s blue dog who has frequently voted with the Republicans against progressives on issue after issue. Her political career was founded on her father’s money and connections as a lobbyist for military contractor, not on any grassroots progressive experience.
Besides that, it’s not very progressive to deprive voters of a choice over who their leaders will be, is it? President Obama and the New York State Democratic Party seem to have a distaste for progressive politics these days. It was evidently all well and good for Barack Obama to use a primary challenge against a congressional incumbent in his own party to kick his own political career up a notch, but now that Obama’s on the top of the heap, such exercises must seem like an inconvenient obstacle to the smooth exercise of power from on high.
Other Democrats are still considering challenging Gillibrand. Let’s see if they can withstand President Obama’s push to have the Democratic Party keep its hold on power by appointments rather than through elections.