Rumors have been swirling during the past week that if Sen. Hillary Clinton is nominated Secretary of State, then her husband, the former President, should be appointed to fill her vacant Senate seat. He could even be there in time to vote on her confirmation. Really!
Now let’s look at history. Ex-Presidents have served after they left office. William Howard Taft became Chief Justice of the United States; John Quincy Adams served in the U.S. House; and Andrew Johnson represented Tennessee in the U.S. Senate. So Clinton wouldn’t be breaking any new ground.
However, for Clinton to accept his wife's former seat would smack of nepotism, and that’s not necessarily a good thing these days. Former U.S. Senator Frank Murkowski, of Alaska, resigned his seat when he was elected Governor. Once in the Governor’s office, he appointed his daughter Lisa to fill out his Senate term. Lisa has since been reelected, but Frank was voted out of office in favor of reformer Sarah Palin, who was no fan of the “family affair” in Alaska.
The Clintons have to be worried about a similar backlash. Ever worried about their family legacy, the last thing they need is for Bill to run for reelection to the U.S. Senate and lose. Today a spokesman for Mr. Clinton told CNN that rumors that Clinton wants the Senate seat are “completely false.”
According to the Constitution, Governors make appointments to fill vacant seats in the Senate. For now, vacancies must be filled in Illinois and Delaware, as well as New York. Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden has wisely stepped away from consideration to replace his dad.
Among the other names being circulated in New York are those of Caroline Kennedy, daughter of the late President, and Robert Kennedy, Jr., son of the slain New York Senator. New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, son of the former Governor, is also on the list. All should take the high road and decline. Yes, their families have been dedicated to public service for generations, but the U.S. Senate is not an entitlement program. No family “owns” any seats, nor should they.
Maybe Governor David Patterson should instead consider two long-serving House members for promotion, Louise Slaughter and Nydia Velazquez. People should get these jobs based on merit, not on their family name.
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