Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Why Caroline Will Get the Senate Seat

Caroline will get the Senate seat. So says my friend Swifty, remembering his days working for U.S. Rep. Carl Perkins:
Put yourself in the gov's position. This appointment is like any appointment a governor has, but a much bigger deal. A little ancient history ... Congressmen used to get to appoint the postmasters in their district, if they were of the same party as the President. The old rule was when the governor decides to appoint he or she ends up with one ingrate and a dozen enemies. The ingrate is the appointee, who immediately claims he or she was appointed on merit, not patronage. the enemies are the dozen or so people who wanted the appointment but didn't get it.

There's a bunch of people in NY who want it. The gov ends up with one ingrate and a bunch of enemies. He appoints Caroline and he's got just one more enemy among the disappointed, no ingrate, and the never ending loyalty of the Kennedy family, which is a very big deal. example ...

When Carl Perkins died, Ted Kennedy went to the funeral. I was in the official congressional delegation going to the funeral and it was a real process. The nearest airport that could handle the plane the Air Force used for the huge number of congressman going was in London, Kentucky, not even in Carl's district, but as close as they coul AM at Rayburn building, went to AF airport in Maryland, flew to London, rode buses for a few hours to Hindman, county seat of Carl's home county. it took a full day, early am to late night, of Ted's time.

Why did Kennedy make the trip? Because in 1960 Carl campaigned all over his district for Kennedy (who was in the House when Carl Got elected in '48) hurting his own reelection chances. In 1960 the anti-Kennedy forces in Appalachia used the term "Papist" because in Appalachia it sounded more un-American than Catholic. Carl worked 18 hour days, driving up every passable road, getting people to vote for Kennedy. the Kennedys knew what Carl was doing, and they never forget.

If NY gov knows the family political history, and I assume he does, he'll appoint caroline.
For extra credit, identify the Congressman in this postscript:
PS -- the rest of the staff had to fly commercial to Lexington or other airports and rent cars or get rides to Carl's funeral. i Igot to go free as part of the congressional delegation, with Air Force staff serving us drinks and snacks on the plane and bus. On the bus a congressman from NYC sat next to me. Can't remember his name but he was famous for being a great harmonica player and for shifting domicile around NYC to stay in congress every time there was a redistricting. As we rolled along, we passed crops in fields. He pointed out the window and asked me "what's that growing there?" I told him that was "tobacco." He said he'd always wondered what tobacco looked like. He had a big harmonica collection, including a tiny one he put entirely in his mouth and played.
Actually, it was marijuana.

Update: And the winner is--Swifty himself, his memory refreshed on the identity of the wheezer:
The congressman whose name I couldnt think of was Jim Scheuer, originally elected from the Bronx but I bet he really lived in Manhattan all the time and used addresses to run from. he knocked off a NYC machine hack whose name I also cant remember. always was a high type guy. he was an original Harmonicat, i'm told, a virtuoso.

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