It seems like only yesterday that I was writing about New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and her surprising pledge (during a debate) to serve her full, six-year term if re-elected nine days from now. (Okay… it was only yesterday.) The claim effectively removed her from contention for the 2020 Democratic presidential primary. At the time, I noted that “stories about politicians lying or going back on their word later rank right up there with dog-bites-man reports,” before going on to speculate that she might not have had that great of a shot at the nomination anyway.
The speed with which this particular debate pledge was walked back, however, took me completely by surprise. The debate was Thursday night and Gillibrand had barely had time to have breakfast the following day before she was slamming the brakes on the idea. As the Buffalo News later reported, journalists trying to pin her down on the question further were met with yet another reversal, with the Senator saying that she couldn’t really make a decision at this time and that she would think about it “later.”
U.S. Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand said Friday she isn’t prepared to make a decision now on whether to run for president.
“I definitely think about how I can help New Yorkers and how I can be successful in getting more things done in Washington,” Gillibrand said. “But, aspiring to a higher office is a very big decision. That’s why I’m not prepared to make it right now.”
“I can think about it later,” Gillibrand said during a meeting Friday with editors and reporters at The Buffalo News.
When pressed for an explanation of the obvious lie she put out during the debate, Gillibrand fell back on the excuse used by so many former Senators. “I’m really running for Senate,” Gillibrand said. “I’m focused on my Senate race, and it’s important to serve in the Senate for New York, and there’s a lot of work still to be done in the Senate.”
Was Gillibrand simply assuming that nobody would notice a Senate race debate where she’s leading her opponent by a two to one margin? Or is she just so jaded in terms of American politics that she believes she can casually lie at the drop of a hat and nobody will care? The latter may be a safe assumption, actually. This is still New York, after all, and the Senator is a beloved “rising star” of the liberal, progressive base, despite her lengthy previous history of being a conservative Democrat. A clear example of what would, in days gone by, have been seen as a complete failure in a test of character will now be shrugged off by a Democratic voter base who wouldn’t vote for her Republican opponent if Gillibrand personally came over and spit on their homes.
But should we really be surprised? As I pointed out in the previous article, Kirsten Gillibrand has a well-documented history of changing her policy views as rapidly as required to advance her political appetites. She lies as casually as most people doodle on a sketchpad. The fact that she stood at a lectern, pledged to serve out her full term and then changed her story the following day probably won’t cause her to lose any sleep or impact her prospects in the upcoming election. Since she knows she won’t be held accountable, why worry about a little thing like the truth?