Unknown Gillibrand Appointed to Clinton Seat, Breaks Glass Ceiling
In a bit of unfortunate timing, Anne Kornblut has a page A01 piece in today’s WaPo headlined “Does a Glass Ceiling Persist in Politics? Kennedy’s Withdrawal Illustrates a Double Standard, Some Say.” The lede:
With her abrupt exit this week from consideration for the Senate, Caroline Kennedy added her name to a growing list: women who have sought the nation’s highest offices only to face insurmountable hurdles.
Like Hillary Rodham Clinton and Sarah Palin before her, Kennedy illustrated what some say is an enduring double standard in the handling of ambitious female office-seekers. Even as more women step forward as contenders for premier political jobs, observers say, few seem able to get there.
In less than two months, Kennedy, 51, was transformed from a beloved, if elusive, national icon into a laughingstock in the New York media, mocked for her verbal tics and criticized for her spotty voting record.
The fact that Hillary Clinton didn’t get elected president doesn’t much prove anything about the electability of women; indeed, she had twice been easily elected to the U.S. Senate seat to which Kennedy aspired. That Palin and Kennedy, who most observers judged as less than prepared for the offices they sought, were unsuccessful doesn’t exactly prove discrimination against women, either.
But Kornblut’s piece is especially problematic in light of the news — which was frankly expected before this piece went to bed — that Kirsten Gillibrand, a virtually unknown second-term Representative — and a woman — was going to be appointed to the seat:
PIX NEWS is being told that Congresswoman Kirsten Gillibrand is the reported choice of Governor David Paterson to fill the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Hillary Clinton. Two Congressional sources say New York Democratic delegation has been invited to join Governor Paterson for the announcement at noon in Albany Friday.
Two members of that delegation, agreeing to speak without attribution, told me that the Governor has telephoned New York’s Democratic members of Congress for their views after Caroline Kennedy withdrew herself from consideration. One of the contenders, long-term Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney canceled a scheduled appearance on “PIX News Closeup” Friday because of a “conflict,” which she did not disclose. She too will be in Albany. According to the sources, Gillibrand, now in her second congressional term, is favored by Secretary of State Clinton herself. Paterson has been under pressure to select a woman.
So . . . not only was being a woman not a hindrance, it was an asset?