The Strange Tale Of Mrs. Schlossberg

January 22, 2009 5:50 p.m.

I won’t claim to have sorted through the whole Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg-David Paterson mess—how could two smart people have let things get so out of hand?–but I’ll pass along what I heard tonite from a New York Democrat who is close to the situation. This person did not know why Caroline pulled out of the running but insisted that John Kennedy’s daughter was under the impression that she was still very much a contender from Wednesday afternoon when she decided to withdraw, according to the source, through Wednesday night right until 12:00 AM in the wee hours of Thursday morning when she officially wrote the governor and pulled the plug on her short-lived bid to be appointed senator to replace Hillary Clinton. “I don’t know why she did,” said this source, referring to her withdrawal and adding that she’d made the decision in the afternoon on Wednesday and spent most of the rest of the day mulling it over.As for why Paterson took so long to decide, the source said that the governor had always been mindful of John Tower, the late Senator from Texas who was nominated by George H.W. Bush in 1989 to be Secretary of Defense and was considered a sure bet because he was a member of the Senate and a leading member of the Armed Services Committee, to boot. Tower’s nomination, though, was defeated after allegations of drinking and sexual harrassment. He later died in a plane crash. (The job went to a congressman named Dick Cheney.) Paterson, the governor, was also mindful of the case of William Paterson, who was nominated to the Supreme Court and then had his nomination withdrawn and resubmittedby George Washington. The first president did this because Paterson had been a member of the Senate when the Supreme Court was created by statute in 1787. Washington thought his nomination of Paterson unconstitutional and waited until Paterson finished out his Senate term before reappointing him a few days later in 1793. In other words, it ain’t over ’til it’s over.

Thus, Gov. Paterson wanted to see Hillary Clinton confirmed before he made a final call on the remote chance that she would keep her Senate seat and, indeed, the former First Lady, unlike Obama, did not vacate her elected post until her Secretary of State post was in hand. As for why Caroline withdrew, the source said it wasn’t tax issues–“that was of no consequence,” the source added–and not an affair, as papers like the New York Post have implied. “She’s not telling people why,” the source added. The source was mystified as to why Paterson’s office was going after Kennedy so hard, implying she had not been in the running for weeks. Will keep reporting.

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