The Gillibrand moment

Gillibrand has challenged Trump, and he has accepted her as a rival, almost gifting her with an insult that could be interpreted as calling her a whore: “She’ll do anything.” Gillibrand has made the recognition and extirpation of sexual assault one of her primary themes, and, in “Kirsten Gillibrand’s Moment Has Arrived,” Politico notes that the world has caught up to her. Trump’s tweet is a kind of perverse confirmation that America’s political obsessives now live in what Politico calls “the Gillibrand moment.”

This moment has been building for some time. She cannily opposed every one of Trump’s nominations to the cabinet, no matter how qualified. In this, she was correctly reading the mood of influential core Democratic voters and the bulk of the media, who hold Trump as illegitimate. And she’s been noticed, provided with a glammy profile in Vogue, a magazine that had to pulp much of its expensive women-in-power series — including a Hillary cover photo — when Trump won the election. Now Gillibrand has successfully maneuvered herself into position as a potential Democratic nominee, and she’ll get to test-drive her skills on the media and the Democratic donor class. My prediction: She’ll do very well.

This is quite the transformation for Gillibrand, who got her first lift into federal office when Chuck Schumer and other Democrats went looking for unconventional “moderates” after the 2004 election. Elected in 2006 from a rural upstate New York district, Gillibrand joined the Blue Dog coalition, gained a 100 percent rating from the NRA on gun rights, and earned some of the highest marks for any Democrat from groups that favor restricting immigration. She voted against a version of McCain’s “comprehensive reform” when it came into the House, denouncing amnesty. She talked about the biblical characters that inspired her politics. And she won a crushing reelection in 2008. Her elevation to the Senate by Democratic governor David Paterson was initially greeted as an affront.

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