Thursday, December 18, 2008

Caroline Kennedy for Queen of the World

By Michael J.W. Stickings

I must admit -- and contrary to Carl -- I'm not terribly enthused about the prospect of Caroline Kennedy being appointed to fill Hillary's Senate seat.

It's not that I don't like Kennedy -- hell, she's better than Fran Drescher, who was on Larry King the other night talking about her supposed qualifications for the job, which apparently including having been to Washington and enjoying talking to people (the interview was one of the lower points of Larry King's career of low points) -- it's that I think a more seasoned political figure would be a better choice. I don't dispute that she's done an awful lot with her life, as Carl points out, but, let's face it, she's topping the list of candidate right now largely because she's a Kennedy. Surely there are many other New Yorkers who have similarly hefty resum├ęs.

Over at The Plank, Michelle Cottle makes much the same argument Carl does: America has dynasties, like it or not. Yet, like me, she's cool to the Kennedy-for-Senate movement: "Not because she's unqualified or entitled or a nepotistic threat to democracy or any of that. I'm simply weary of the entire Kennedy myth (and, by extension, the family) -- as I suspect are most people under the age of 50. For all their glamour and mystique, the Kennedys embody the past. Which is fine, but they tend to make the older generation get all mushy and misty-eyed and sentimental about a golden age that was never really all that golden. Time to move on, folks. The theme du jour is 'Change,' remember?"

I'm not as tired of the Kennedys mainly because I just don't pay them that much attention. Besides, other than the present patriarch himself, Ted, it's not like the Kennedys have been political A-listers dominating the Democratic Party.

Among other things, though, what bothers me is what The Stump's Noam Scheiber calls Kennedy's "Palin-esque stiffing of the press." It's not enough just for her to want the job. As she's running her de facto campaign, she needs to answer the questions being lobbed her way, not ducking and running and generally avoiding any engagement with the press. And she needs to explain to New Yorkers just why she wants the job, why she thinks she's the right choice, what she'd do in the job (what are her political positions and policy priorities?), and what her political future would be (she'd be required to run for re-election in two years). After all, although the decision is New York Governor David Paterson's alone, the appointment is obviously a public issue, and the public deserves to know more about the person who may soon represent them in the U.S. Senate. In a democracy, lest we forget, appointments to democratic institutions are, by definition, undemocratic. Kennedy would be a senator, with the advantage of incumbency when running for re-election, without ever having been elected. It seems to me that the burden is on Kennedy to prove herself worthy of the position and to do so in an honest and open fashion, just as it is on Patterson to ensure that the process is as open and honest as possible.

Anyway, that's a long preface to some very funny Andy Borowitz (via The Plank's Chris Orr):

Caroline Kennedy would like to be considered Time magazine's Person of the Year for 2009 and has let the magazine's editor know of her interest in the honor, aides to Ms. Kennedy confirmed today. While some observers considered Ms. Kennedy's bid to be premature, especially since 2009 has not officially begun, aides to the New York senatorial aspirant said that it reflected her view that 2009 will be a very big year for her....

In addition to the Person of the Year honors, Kerry Kennedy said that Caroline had also expressed an interest in next year's Nobel Peace Prize. "That's a call she hasn't made yet," Ms. Kennedy said. "She has to figure out the time difference in Oslo."

Like I said, it's not enough just to announce that you want the job. Whether you're a Kennedy or a Drescher, you need to prove yourself worthy of such a high office. Drescher obviously isn't. Kennedy may very well be, but she has some convincing to do.

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  • I actually respectfully disagree on the Kennedy issue.

    Like I alluded to on my other comment, I really don't think that her prominence because of being a Kennedy is relevant here, because Clinton got the job the same way, and even worse: by relocating to New York State so she could run for office 6 months later.

    I've argued with several recently about this--name recognition and profitability is how politicians get nominated and elected all the time. Arnold? Ventura? Reagan?

    I don't like it, but when you need dollars to win elections, the best resume doesn't always get the nomination or party support or the win. This isn't a meritocracy, and it seems odd that much pundit commentary about Kennedy acts like it is.

    It would be nice to use an appointment like this to get a Senator who isn't so "connected" but if of superior quality. But to talk about Kennedy as if it was an outrage, seems to ignore actual history, and Clinton herself.

    By Blogger lindabeth, at 6:53 PM  

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