The perils of punditry: On Monday, CNBC chief Washington correspondent and New York Times political writer John Harwood predicted that the Massachusetts legislature would not pass a law enabling Democratic Governor Deval Patrick to pick a temporary successor to the late Senator Ted Kennedy. “I don’t think so. Doesn’t look like it,” Harwood announced on CNBC’s Squawk Box.
The very next day, the Massachusetts Senate passed the bill that would partially reverse the law Democrats passed in 2004 to prevent a Republican governor from naming a Senate replacement if Senator John Kerry had been elected president. The bill reached Governor Patrick yesterday, and today, Patrick announced the selection of former Democratic National Chairman Paul Kirk to become Senator until the state’s voters pick a permanent replacement in January.
Today’s Washington Post, hardly a conservative outlet, scorned the move as “playing partisan politics” and disrespectful to Massachusetts voters:
Playing partisan politics once again with a U.S. Senate seat, the Massachusetts state legislature voted to give the governor the power to appoint a successor to the seat held by the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D). While we respect its desire to fulfill the wishes of Mr. Kennedy, this is no way to treat the voters of the commonwealth.
For its part, the Boston Globe editorialized for the bill (“state senators should pass the measure”), and recommended Michael Dukakis as their choice for U.S. Senator.
Here’s Harwood's display of political acumen from shortly before 6:30am EDT on Squawk Box, September 21, about 75 hours before Kirk’s appointment:
CO-HOST JOE KERNAN: When are we going to find out what happens up in Massachusetts, John, with, you know, how we replace the Senator?
WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT JOHN HARWOOD: Well, we’ve got a race that’s going to play out in early January. You’ve got people lining up on both sides, a pretty spirited contest-
KERNAN: But they’re not going to change it back to-
HARWOOD, SHAKING HIS HEAD: I don’t think so. Doesn’t look like it.
KERNAN: Okay, so then you’re going to be missing a vote.
HARWOOD: Yes. And Democrats -- and this is by the way what I wrote about in my column this morning in the New York Times -- the Democrats are going to have 59 votes and they’re going to try to put that together with Olympia Snowe, who said some flattering things about President Obama in an interview I had with her last week, and see if they can get past the filibuster that way. Not going to be easy to hold all of the 59 Democrats, and not going to be easy for her to join them. But that looks like the most promising route of the Obama health care plan right now.
CO-HOST CARL QUINTANILLA: John, we'll see what happens. Busy week. Talk you soon.