Joan Vennochi says exactly what I was just thinking:
If it’s Kirk, Patrick is picking a Kennedy foot soldier and political insider who is well-known inside Washington’s power circles — but is virtually unknown to Massachusetts voters. If it’s Kirk, Patrick is rejecting Michael S. Dukakis, who served three terms as governor of Massachusetts and won his party’s presidential nomination, fighting all the while for core Democratic values. The Dukakis loss to George H.W. Bush in the 1988 presidential race is an unpleasant reminder of Democratic failure. But it is also an example of Dukakis’s unwavering commitment to key Democratic principles, including health care reform. Dukakis’s wife, Kitty, was also an early and avid Patrick supporter, who stood behind his bid for governor when other Democrats wrote it off.
Either Dukakis or Kirk would no doubt vote the way the DC Dems want on most important issues. Either of them would no doubt keep Senator Kennedy’s constituent services operation running to the best of their ability. And I’m sure Paul Kirk (about whom, as I’ve already mentioned, I know very little) is a fine fellow and a good Democrat. But Mike Dukakis has been elected by the people of Massachusetts to serve as their Governor three times. They also voted for him to be their President. Whereas Paul Kirk is pretty much a black hole to most MA residents. If Kirk is appointed, most people in MA will say, “who?” And then shrug their shoulders, secure in the knowledge that, once again, a backroom deal has been cut that makes a DC power broker even more powerful and that makes some other well-connected folks happy, but that doesn’t seem to have much to do with the people.
With the greatest respect to the Kennedy family, it is not up to them who gets the interim appointment. It is up to the Governor to decide who would best serve the interests of the people of Massachusetts for the next few months. That, after all, is what Senator Kennedy wanted.
I don’t even know if Mike Dukakis wants to be an interim Senator. But if he does (and the fact that he’s filling out financial disclosure forms suggests that he’s interested), I’m hard pressed to see why Paul Kirk is a better choice.