When word leaked out that Caroline Kennedy had called David Paterson and let him know she’d like a Senate seat, please, the optics of the whole thing were just so wrong that it was hard to imagine she knew what she was getting into, or what the consequences of a high-profile belly flop would be:
We have absolutely no idea if she’s qualified, or whether she can take the heat of being a Kennedy in public life. She’s certainly shown no appetite for it in the past. She’ll have a target on her back and if she can’t take it, if she crumbles, she will become a rallying point that the right will easily organize around. The woman has never run for office in her life. We have no idea how she’d fare on the campaign trail, or how well she could stand up to the electoral process.
But even *I* in my most cynical moment could not have predicted the utter and complete mission fail of Kennedy’s public relations campaign over the next few weeks. She appeared to believe that if she just hired the right people and whispered in the right ears, everything else would follow. No doubt people who were drooling as she opened her formidable checkbook reinforced that sad delusion (and yes, I do mean you, Josh Isay).
But her roll out was positively masterful next to the abject meltdown of her waning moments:
Caroline Kennedy has reportedly withdrawn her name from consideration for the US Senate seat Hillary Clinton vacated today.
[It] might be due to concern over the deteriorating health of her uncle, Sen. Ted Kennedy, who suffered a seizure yesterday during a lunch to celebrate President Obama’s inauguration.
But wait! Hold the presses! People who Ought To Know say it’s not true:
UPDATE: DN Capitol Bureau Chief Ken Lovett reports a Kennedy family source said Kerry Kennedy, Caroline Kennedy’s cousin, spoke with both Paterson and Caroline Kennedy’s political consultant Josh Isay and neither were aware she is pulling out.
Or maybe it is….
UPDATE2: According to multiple sources, the candidate is AWOL at the moment, and everyone close to her is blindsided by this bombshell. It appears someone might have jumped the gun early, and this news might not be, well, news.
Assuming this is true, it does not look good for the people who were running Kennedy’s non-campaign for Clinton’s seat at Isay’s firm, KnickerbockerSKD, nor for some of her big boosters like Mayor Bloomberg, whose deputy, Kevin Sheekey, was also working the back channels on Kennedy’s behalf.
Well, she was probably consumed with grief over Teddy’s health crisis at the inauguration. Can you really blame her?
Short answer? "Yes":
Sources close to Senator Edward M. Kennedy tell TIME that his circle — including his immediate family — is furious that his brain cancer is being cited by some in her camp as the reason for her decision to withdraw her name from consideration for the Senate seat being vacated by Hillary Clinton in New York.
Before the fawning posts start climbing to the top of the Kos diary section by people prostrating themselves before the genius and grace of ATTORNEY KENNEDY who could not, um, you know, possibly have had anything to do with such sordidness because she lives in a world of sunshine, lollypops and rainbows that is known as CAMELOT and is obviously just the victim of unscrupulous VERMIN like Michael Bloomberg and Josh Isay, who you know "handled" Joe Lieberman, which it was not okay to mention because that was GUILT BY ASSOCIATION but that was before and this is now and so now it’s okay because it was an honest MISTAKE and how was she to know what reprobate SCALIWAGS were doing on her behalf because she is not a political HACK she’s a PRINCESS and a constitutional scholar who has written books about the CONSTITUTION, okay they were kid’s books but kiss my ass SHE KNOWS MORE ABOUT IT THAN YOU DO, they might want to read all the way to the end:
Multiple reports suggested that those around her — and possibly Caroline Kennedy herself — are citing her uncle’s condition as a reason, despite the fact that his illness and prognosis has been known for months. The New York Times, for instance, wrote in its Thursday morning edition: "The person who spoke with Ms. Kennedy said she cited concerns about the health of her uncle, Senator Edward M. Kennedy, who suffers from brain cancer and was hospitalized after a seizure Tuesday, as the reason for her abrupt withdrawal."
I’m sure Ruth Marcus is also wracked with inconsolable grief that the woman who was capable of such dexterous PR maneuvering never got to try her hand at governance.
Me, I’ll live.