Paul Kirk Replaces Ted Kennedy, to Sighs

Speculation about who will fill the Senate seat ends, as Michael Dukakis comes up short again

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Pundits have been floating myriad options for filling Ted Kennedy's Senate seat, from Harvard Professor Charles Ogletree to Michael Dukakis to magazine wordsmith Atul Gawande, but in the end, Massachusetts Governor Duval Patrick seems likely to go with the safe choice: Paul Kirk, a loyal Kennedy aide.

Was this a good pick? It seems that many connoisseurs of the political horse-race are a little disappointed, but others say it was in the interest of the Kennedy family.

  • A Poor Choice, writes Marty Peretz at the New Republic. Before the final choice was made, Peretz asked hopefully, "Will the governor who has an independent streak be able to resist? Let's hope so." Kirk, he said, would only tarnish Kennedy's legacy: "We should not sully his [Kennedy's] name with that of a hack. A loyal hack, to be sure.
  • A Safe Pick, says Chris Cillizza at the Washington Post. He suggests that Kirk was chosen because of "his closeness to the Kennedy family and a belief that his selection would do no harm to the political prospects of the governor or the state legislature."
  • A Bow to the Kennedy Family, writes Jason Zengerle at the New Republic. "My guess is that anti-Kennedy sentiment, never that widespread in Massachusetts to begin with, is at an all-time low at the moment, so soon after Teddy's death. Which means that Patrick will ultimately bow to the Kennedy family's wishes and pick Kirk; after all, it is only a temporary appointment."
  • A Pick That Could Backfire, suggests Alex Koppelman at the Salon War Room. "[T]here've been a whole lot of issues with governors making Senate appointments recently, and in this case support from the Kennedys could actually be a point against Kirk -- if Patrick's nervous about making a choice that looks dynastic, or like he's putting a Kennedy puppet in, he could look elsewhere."
  • A Checkered Career, says Ben Buchwalter at Mother Jones. "Kirk is best known for his role as the co-Chairman of the Commission on Presidential Debates, the body that organizes debates for leading Presidential candidates. Under Kirk's leadership, critics have said that the CPD waters down policy discussion (or avoids it altogether), pretends to be non-partisan despite heavy party control, and is fueled by corporate lobbyists."
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