A funny thing happens when you publicly criticize a sitting member of Congress. They notice.
Last week I told you I had all but forgotten New York's junior senator Kirsten Gillibrand. Since that column ran, her press office has determined that I will never forget the senator again. Three times last Tuesday, I got press releases from her office, followed by two on Thursday and another four on Friday.
Of course, the entire lot of press releases amounted to very little, in my opinion. And frankly, if they were trying to tell me she was worthwhile, a carefully crafted email saying, “Hey, Scott, Senator Gillibrand has done all sorts of good stuff. Here's some examples,” would have gone a lot further.
A quick review of those press releases shows that one is a feel-good measure about tax credits. Two were feel-good puff pieces about the first lady's campaign to fight childhood obesity. One was about her military academy nominations. Three were about the anniversary of flight 3407. One applauded the potential end of “dont ask, don't
tell.” And the last was her public schedule.
I have good working relationships with people in the offices of many members of the local congressional delegation; Congressman Lee, Congresswoman Slaughter, Congressman Higgins and Senator Schumer. And as a journalist, I'd like to have a good working relationship with Senator Gillibrand's office. That probably would have been easier were it not for my shot across their bow last week.
But, hey. I call 'em like I see 'em. And I don't think the junior senator has what it takes to hold the high-profile job in the US Senate.
Last Thursday, my friend Alan Bedenko, who writes under the moniker of Buffalo Pundit for WNYMedia.net asked, “Can any Democrat around here name for me something – anything – that would render Kirsten Gillibrand unworthy of re-election?” He went on to question the campaign of Harold Ford, who is considering a primary against Gillibrand. While I don't disagree with Alan's questioning of Ford, I do feel the need to turn the original question around on him. “Can you name me something – anything – that would render Kirsten Gillibrand worthy of re-election?”
Alan goes on to say that Gillibrand “comes from an upstate background and arguably has a better understanding of – and experience with – upstate issues.”
That was enough for me when she was first appointed. I keenly recall thinking that she and I shared several ideals. But that only makes her equally qualified as I am to hold her job. I may have an ego, but I'm not so full of myself as to think I'd make a good US Senator.
My big flaw with Alan's thought process is that we should keep her cause she hasn't done anything wrong. The absense of wrong does not make something right. We should strive for something more – something better – than “well, they didn't screw up too bad.”
A certain Buffalo radio station used to have a liner that went like this: “Let's face it. Buffalo radio sucks. But we suck less.” Is that what we're going for?
If you're content with mediocrity, then, by all means, keep Gillibrand in office and don't consider anyone who might run against her. Better yet, if you're content with mediocrity, get out of New York State so that those of us who aren't can do something to fix it.