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Published: Monday, 8/12/2002

Ted versus Hillary

Politics is all about compromise. But two prominent U.S. senators from two prominent political families aren't budging. The power struggle of freshman Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York and the venerable Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts is over the site of the next Democratic National Convention.

She wants New York; he wants Boston.

The contentiousness that often marks national political conventions to anoint presidential nominees is flaring in two Democratic factions a full two years ahead of the staged affairs.

In what is described so far as a “friendly competition” between Senators Clinton and Kennedy, a tug of war has begun over the two eastern cities. Frankly, it's the kind of headache the challenging party doesn't need as it begins an uphill battle to recapture what it lost in 2000.

But despite the close, personal, public connection between the Clinton and Kennedy clans, the gauntlet has been thrown and neither side is willing to concede home base as the site of the 2004 national convention.

New York is the sentimental favorite for both Democrats and Republicans for obvious reasons. But as he passes 70, Teddy is pulling all the sentimental strings he can muster as the Kennedy patriarch, demanding his due from the party forever linked to the Kennedy dynasty.

The challenge between a liberal's liberal and a pragmatic centrist will prove who wields more clout in a party foundering for direction and leadership. Odds are Senator Clinton has the edge if the Democrats, like the Republicans, lean toward New York in a show of resolve after the Sept. 11 attacks.

The way the two parties are maneuvering early for a convention site with the best potential for media play and candidate promotion, perhaps the totally unexpected could occur and the Big Apple could end up hosting both conventions.

Not that it matters much to the average American. National convention sites, dates, and agendas are more important to media and political insiders. The latter - as evident by the so-far friendly feud between Ted and Hillary - can be easily consumed by the overrated event.

As Americans have discovered in recent years, the campaigns that precede the conventions are far more dramatic than the tightly scripted and anticlimactic conventions themselves.



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