While Caroline Kennedy's withdrawal from contention to replace Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in the Senate remains murky and confusing, the fact that New York Gov. David Paterson (D) bungled the entire process mightily is all too clear.

As New Yorkers urged Paterson to get going and make an announcement these past months, he refused to bow to the pressure yet was content to keep on talking. He didn't want the media pushing him around, he didn't want the guessing game, and he was happy to let us know that Kennedy had something like a 50-50 shot, with pluses and minuses, he said.

It is true Kennedy wasn't a perfect choice, and frankly Paterson didn't have to pick her. But messing this appointment process up — when Kennedy is so close to President Obama — can't be good for Paterson. He allowed the narrative to become about how he wanted to get Andrew Cuomo out of the way so he wouldn't challenge Paterson in 2010, but also needed Caroline to have the best shot and the most help in 2010.

While it is true there are many qualified candidates seeking the appointment, it is hard to believe Paterson hadn't made up his mind a while ago. On Tuesday he said he would announce on Saturday because he had a good idea of where he wanted to go.

"I thought that with something this serious — that when I came to a point of view — that I wouldn't react to it immediately. So since I'm going to be here for another couple of days, I thought I would see if it feels the same way when I come back on Wednesday as it did, I guess toward the end of yesterday afternoon, when I think I started to come to a point of view."

Doesn't inspire a lot of confidence.

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