ALEX COHEN, host:
As Professor Muzzio mentioned, the choice of Kirsten Gillibrand provides gender. How important was it to pick a woman to replace Hillary Clinton, and how have the latest twists and turns of the Caroline Kennedy saga been playing out with women? Hannah Rosin and Emily Bazelon of Slate's Double-X Factor are here now to mull over those questions. Hi, ladies.
Ms. HANNAH ROSIN (Contributor, XX Factor, Slate.com): Hello.
Ms. EMILY BAZELON (Contributor, XX Factor, Slate.com): Hi.
COHEN: So, let's start off with your thoughts about this choice. Did Governor Paterson need to choose a woman to replace Hillary Clinton and if so, why? Hannah?
Ms. ROSIN: It's very interesting. The first line about Gillibrand is that she's a woman. And he needed to replace her - replace the first choice with a woman, and so that really happened. But if you just scratch the surface a little bit, of course, the two of them have nothing in common. Gillibrand is completely different kind of Democrat. Yes, she is a woman, but her voting record is very different from Kennedy. That's very interesting. There's a lot to talk about there. So, I don't know that he needed to choose a woman, anymore than Blagojevich needed to choose a black man for that seat. But that seems to be the way in the Obama administration, so...
COHEN: And Emily, what are readers saying on the Double-X Factor about this choice?
Ms. BAZELON: You know, I think people are kind of curious. She is a relative unknown. She's not someone who everyone's immediately going to have an opinion on. And so, we're starting to look at her votes and then wondering, you know, whether she is the kind of old-fashioned, conservative Democrat that some of her support - you know, for example, from the National Rifle Association - might suggest, or whether she's just really conscientious about representing her district, which is a relatively blue-collar, conservative place.
Ms. ROSIN: And it's so funny that we call them that old-fashioned. I mean, that's sort of the way the Democrats got their power back. That was a sort of great genius of the Clinton era, and it shows you how far we've come, that that's now been completely forgotten. I mean, when you read her record, you think, whoa, like I forgot that these kind of Democrats exist, you know? And I bet many of the Obama people feel that same way.
COHEN: Let's turn now to Caroline Kennedy. What do you see as the future of her career? Does she have a future career? Emily, what do you think?
Ms. BAZELON: I don't necessarily think that in elected politics, she is going to, you know, have much of a future, although I wouldn't rule that out. You know, I think that that this is sort of a sad coda or a moment in what's really been a very rich life of volunteer kind of public service. And I was reading a good piece this morning by Susan Dominus in the New York Times, who was pointing out that for a lot of women who, you know, really stayed out of the work world in their 30s, when they were raising their kids, there was something uplifting and inspirational feeling about that idea that Kennedy could become a senator, despite having done the same and really taken herself out of the work world. But the problem with that, which Susan points out in her piece, is that she was only able to navigate that because of her celebrity, so it's really not a role model for anyone else. And I think that the reliance on celebrity and putting herself forward for this pick was, you know, problematic from the get-go and also quite awkwardly handled.
Ms. ROSIN: And I have to say, I - the reason I didn't find that convincing and didn't feel sad about that is because almost all the women who were elected representatives of a certain generation also did that. I mean, Nancy Pelosi had - how many children, four or five?
Ms. BAZELON: Yeah.
Ms. ROSIN: I mean, there's lots of stories about Nancy Pelosi sort of sitting and doing her ironing for all the kids to go to school while she was on the phone, you know, raising money for whatever local Democratic club. That's not an unusual profile for a woman, so you don't get to do that just because you're a Kennedy. And the other thing is that Gillibrand is actually kind of a rookie. I mean, she hasn't had that much experience. But when you compare the two of them, I mean, she's also - sort of came out of nowhere but you compare them and you realize, like, she has absolutely clear views, you can tell what she's voted on, where she's been. She can speak about policy. I mean, she's clearly qualified. You may disagree with her, but she's qualified.
COHEN: Hannah Rosin and Emily Bazelon of Slate.com's Double-X Factor. Thank you both.
Ms. BAZELON: Thanks for having us.
Ms. ROSIN: Sure.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.