by Alex Knepper
From the day she launched her candidacy, Kirsten Gillibrand had me asking what the rationale was for her candidacy and who, exactly, was clamoring for a Gillibrand presidency. When observing her campaign, I could not help but frequently think of Tim Pawlenty in 2012, another candidate whose inability to gain any traction left him sad and confused. Both are politicians who, on paper, should have been viable candidates, but whose individual problems kept them from being taken seriously as presidential material. Between her conveniently-timed flip-flops on guns and immigration — and her too-frank admission that she changes her positions based on who she is representing — her conveniently-timed condemnation of Bill Clinton, her conveniently-timed transformation into an ‘intersectionalist’, and the suspicion that her call for Al Franken to resign from the Senate was less than fully principled, Gillibrand never shook the sense that she is an opportunist.
This all might have been forgivable if she had a compelling policy platform, a distinctive vision for the country, a powerful political legacy like her Senate predecessor, also perceived by many as an opportunist, Hillary Clinton; or a couple of vital issues that are obviously close to her heart and always have been. But she can’t help but come across like what she is: just another random politician who would really love to have The Big Job, but who has more ambition than ability, and whose long streak of good luck finally hit a brick wall at the national level. Let’s remember that she was appointed to her Senate seat — there’s no evidence that even home state New York organically clamored for Gillibrand.
I don’t think she embarrassed herself as badly as Bill de Blasio or John Hickenlooper have embarrassed themselves, but this has no doubt been a humbling venture for Senator Gillibrand.