Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), whose district spans from the Upper West Side through the World Trade Center site to Coney Island and Bay Ridge, and who is among the most progressive members of Congress, has announced his interest in the Senate seat being vacated by Hillary Clinton.
Here's what Nadler, who chairs the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties, told Democracy Now's Amy Goodman today:
AMY GOODMAN: Speaking of districts, are you interested in the Senate seat?
REP. JERROLD NADLER: Certainly.
AMY GOODMAN: And what is the politics that goes on behind this?
REP. JERROLD NADLER: Well, that’s very hard to know. This is an appointment. It’s entirely internal to Governor Paterson’s head. So one doesn’t really know what the politics is. Obviously, the people supporting Senator -- I’m sorry, the people supporting Caroline Kennedy think that a public campaign would be helpful. Other candidates have not been doing it. I have not been doing a public campaign. And no one really knows.
AMY GOODMAN: Have you talked to Governor Paterson privately?
REP. JERROLD NADLER: Yes.
AMY GOODMAN: And do you think Caroline Kennedy is qualified to be senator?
REP. JERROLD NADLER: Well, that’s up to Governor Paterson to decide, and I’m not going to comment on that. All I’ll say is that I think that’s the wrong question, and the press has been asking the wrong question. The question should not be is Caroline Kennedy or any other individual, for that matter, qualified, because the assumption there is if you meet the certain minimum qualification, you’re entitled to the seat. The question ought to be the same question anyone hiring someone for any responsible job would ask, and that is, is this person the most qualified of all the available candidates? That’s the relevant question.
AMY GOODMAN: And why do you think you’re the most qualified?
REP. JERROLD NADLER: Well, I think all the candidates think they’re the most qualified. I think my record in Congress is a very progressive and forward-looking record. I think I’ve shown very good judgment. I was one of the few downstate people who voted against the war, against the PATRIOT Act. I’ve taken a leadership role on civil liberties, on economic development. And I led the battle against the—I led the battle for eight years against the Bankruptcy, so-called, Reform Act of 2005, which we now recognize as probably responsible for maybe a third of the foreclosures that are going on in this country.
One more thing from the interview, in case Nadler's politics were unclear:
AMY GOODMAN: We just were listening to Vice President Cheney. One of the remarkable things he said was, well, as you pointed out, echoing back to Nixon—if people have seen Frost/Nixon, we just had Ron Howard on—that issue of, if a president does it, it’s not illegal.
REP. JERROLD NADLER: Well, that’s the definition of a monarch. We rebelled against that notion in 1776. And, in fact, it is just completely either ignorant or malevolent. It’s the antithesis of a democratic country. It’s the antithesis of the rule of law. The whole point of the way they drafted the Constitution was that they didn’t want the president to be an elected monarch. A president, anyone in this country, must be subject to the rule of law and not above it. The people are sovereign, not the president. And someone who says that if the president does it, it’s legal, betrays the Constitution and betrays the entire goal of American government, which is to have rule by the people, not by a king.