I’m out of town on some family business, and unable to do a lot of blogging, but I wanted to weigh in on Deval Patrick’s choice for interim senator. I don’t often disagree with Patrick, but this decision baffles me.
This is not a ceremonial appointment. Issues of huge importance are coming before the Senate between now and the June 25 special election. Massachusetts should send a player to the Senate to replace John Kerry, not just someone to warm the seat. I understand that whoever got the job would follow the leads of Barack Obama, Harry Reid and Joe Biden in the critical votes to come, and that some of Kerry’s staff would stay on to take care of routine business. But still…
I don’t know Mo Cowan, and I’m happy to assume he’s a good guy and a smart man. But we’d all be better served by someone with recent experience in Congress, not someone who has spent the last few years immersed in state issues on Beacon Hill. Barney Frank, who I favored, could have hit the ground running. He’s already an expert in the federal budget, a skilled hand in parliamentary procedures with personal relations on both sides of the Capitol. I hope Deval didn’t reject Barney because he campaigned for the job. I’d rather think that some of the big egos in the Senate (or the White House) saw him as a potential bull in the china shop who might get in the way of their delicate strategizing.
Fair enough. But what about John Olver, who also just retired from the House? What about Cam Kerry, John’s brother, who works in the Commerce Dept., or Melody Barnes, former top aide to Ted Kennedy who ran Obama’s domestic policy operation? Both may have residency problems, but surely there are others who would fit the profile of inside players who know their way around Washington, just as Paul Kirk, our last interim senator did. For that matter, why not bring back Kirk?
Because nobody knows much about him, much is being made of the fact Cowan is black, making him the second African-American in the Senate and the second African-American senator from Massachusetts. Who cares? There is work to be done.