The Kirsten Gillibrand storyline shifts

gillibrand nyt front page 2010-12-23This was a big week for Kirsten Gillibrand. Two pieces of legislation for which she's gained a high-profile supporter were approved in Congress. First, it was the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell. And yesterday, it was the bill funding health care for 9/11 responders.

The legislative successes landed her on the front page of the New York Times today:

Once derided as an accidental senator, lampooned for her verbosity and threatened with many challengers who openly doubted her abilities, a succinct, passionate and effective Senator Gillibrand has made her presence felt in the final days of this Congress.
Her efforts have won grudging admiration from critics, adulation from national liberals and gay rights groups, and accolades from New York politicians across the political spectrum, including Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, who once shopped for potential candidates to oust her.
Even her relentlessness, which once drew mockery, is now earning the highest compliment of all: professional jealousy from her more senior colleagues.

Chuck Schumer said this week that KG's persistence on the 9/11 bill had Senate colleagues asking him to call her off:

You know, some of these senators said: Would you stop her from bothering me? And I said: No! And the result of all that hard work we see today. What a great victory for a new legislator, isn't that fabulous. For any legislator, but for someone this new to do so much so soon is utterly amazing. [State of Politics]

This coverage represents quite a shift in the media's attitude toward KG. Earlier this year as she faced a possible challenge for her Senate seat, stories often focused on issues such as her weight loss and the the tone of her voice. And just this past fall Harry Reid reportedly called KG "the hottest member" of the Senate.

As it happens, this recent arc is roughly similar to one Gillibrand followed here in the Capital Region. She wasn't given much chance of knocking off John Sweeney (though his self-destruction didn't hurt). And there were doubters she could hold onto the seat in the majority Republican district (which she did, easily).

May we suggest a new media frame for KG: not to be underestimated.

Earlier: Don't Ask Don't Tell as Kirsten Gillibrand's signature issue

image: New York Times

Comments

It's about time! Our junior senator is obviously very bright. I think it's an insult to all women to treat her less seriously just because of her looks. Those comments that Paladino made about KG during his campaign ("Schumer's little girl" or something equally offensive) REALLY pissed me off!

Sold me when she Spoke Mandarin during Chinese language newspaper interview. This was her undergrad major. Lot of years ago and she is still fluent. Mandarin is a tonal language where the same word has several meanings depending on how it spoken.

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