Monday, January 05, 2009

And a new year begins

My column in Sunday's paper about Caroline Kennedy's bid for Hillary Clinton's Senate seat drew a few responses from readers. Most felt she didn't deserve it, and a few commented on her "lack of perfect political appearance...suggesting that unless she improves greatly, she's unlikely to be very successful in the Senate. one reader suggested she needed to "look" more Kennedy-like in order to gain people's confidence.

Personally, I don't have a problem with her making a bid for the seat. What I do have a problem with is the way these things are handled. I'm not a fan of having Senate seats filled by governor's who get to appoint whoever they want. That's not how it's done in the House of Representatives. A vacancy in the lower chamber is filled by special election.

If you think about it, does it makes sense that a two-year office is filled by special election, but a six-year term is filled by appointment? It doesn't to me.

There will likely be legisaltion submitted in Hartford this year calling for a change in the way vacancies are filled -- and having them filled through a special election. I hope it gets a hearing and is then brought out for a vote.


Blogger dweeb said...

I haven't seen any research on this (yet) and it may not be important, but I'm curious if those who are expressing concern about a 'name' without a ' track record' are mostly those of my cohort (I'm 56) with memories closely linked to JFK and Camelot.

A lot of the talking heads on TV I've seen expressing misgivings look like they're closer to my age than to either of my children (both of whom are in their 20's) who don't have the emotional memories or baggage their father does when we speak of "The Kennedys".

The sidebar I find most confusing is the "Sarah Palin vs. Caroline Kennedy" argument which, to me, says more about how many of us tend to perceive the mainstream media than about the differences between the two women.

Many comments I've read suggest the MSM 'had it out' for Palin while Kennedy is 'given a free pass' (not sure how true either of those contentions actually are), which may say more about our increasing inability to disagree WITHOUT being disagreeable than any qualifications (or lack thereof) on the part of either woman.

12:03 PM  
Blogger wtfdnucsailor said...

Until she was rumored for a Senate seat, the press normally said Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg. If appointed, will she be Senator Kennedy or Senator Schlossberg. Regarding appointment vs special election, I lean toward a special election but understand gubernatorial appointments make for faster filling of the seat (unless you try to sell the open seat to the highest bidder). I wonder of the appointment process as a carry over from when Senators were chosen by state legislators vice elections.

10:53 AM  
Blogger Ray Hackett said...

Dweeb...I agree, it does appear that most of the critics are our age...and who can remember the days of Camelot...which I also find confusing...and I don't Caroline is getting that much of a "free pass" from the media.

Wtfdnucsailor...appointment by the governor does speed up the process, but in the case of a vacancy caused by the political process of filling a cabinet post, if the one selected were to resign after being picked, that should be more than enough time for a special election to be held before the new Congress convenes. But that also means the appointee would need a leap of faith that their appointment will be confirmed.

No easy answer, but I still prefer allowing people to pick their Senators rather than reverting back to the days when Senators were appointed and not elected.

12:24 PM  
Blogger mccommas said...

Let’s drop the niceties and recognize that the Bulletin Buddies in Hartford are making purely naked power grab when it comes to changing the way vacancies are filled. Still the bill may be worth passing even recognizing their purely selfish intentions if there is an escape clause triggered by national crisis or war.

The Democrats and thier Bulletin (the Norwich Bulletin endorsed a virtue straight-Democrat ticket last November) foresee perhaps Dodd resigning and a Republican (on a good day she’s a Republican anyway) governor getting to pick his replacement.

The Bulletin and the Democrats fear that person will be Robert Simmons who would be hard to beat in 2010 if he is a sitting senator.

I actually don't have a problem with a special election and that in fact is my preference. There must however be a trigger in there in case of a national crisis such as what almost happened on 9-11 and it should apply to House seats as well.

On 9-11-01 had the crew and passages of Flight 93 not figured out their plane was being turned into a missile and had not these heroes overpowered the terrorists by force of their numbers and the aircraft successfully hit its target - The Capital Building -- ,our leaders would have been mass assassinated.

The press has not given these brave patriots their just recognition. Flight 93 Saved Congress. We know the target and it was the Capital. There is no question about it. Those brave ordinary Americans saved our elected leader’s lives

-- And these men and women gave up their own lives doing so. Recall the last words we heard from them was "Let's Roll"? Some of us have saddly forgotten.

Such an event would result in a huge amount of vacancies and emergency business would need to take place shortly afterwards. We were lucky in that the other planes hit their targets and the passages on Flight 93 found out about them. Were it the case that Flight 93 was to hit its target first; no doubt the terrorists would have killed many, maybe even a majority, of our elected leaders as they would have had the element of surprise.

In such a case, the governors should have the capacity to pick replacements for both dead Senators and House members before the smoke cleared so business can start up immediately.

There should be a trigger in the statue, such as if 20 percent of Congress is vacant, where the special election is bypassed and an emergency gubernatorial appointment(s) is/are made.

Congressman John Larson was been talking about this but people have been lulled into a false sense of security. Bush’s policies have been so successful that people forget we still have Muslim crazies out there who will sooner or latter try something again. With President Obama soon to set the terrorists in Guantanamo loose soon, we have cause to worry.

9:37 AM  

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