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December 07, 2008

Caroline Kennedy? Thanks But No Thanks

Posted in: Uncategorized

Everyone seems to be salivating because Caroline Kennedy called David Paterson and is apparently interested in the Senate seat being vacated by Hillary Clinton.

It’s a truly terrible idea. 

Her leadership could have been really helpful when the rest of us were trying to keep the progressive lights on and getting the stuffing beaten out of us by a very well-financed right wing for the past eight years.  But when things were tough, she was nowhere to be found. 

Now that the Democrats are in power, she’d like to come in at the top.  We have absolutely no idea if she’s qualified, or whether she can take the heat of being a Kennedy in public life.  She’s certainly shown no appetite for it in the past.  She’ll have a target on her back and if she can’t take it, if she crumbles, she will become a rallying point that the right will easily organize around.

The woman has never run for office in her life.  We have no idea how she’d fare on the campaign trail, or how well she could stand up to the electoral process.  She simply picks up the phone and lets it be known that she just might be up for having one of the highest offices in the land handed to her because — well, because why?  Because her uncle once held the seat?  Because she’s a Kennedy?  Because she took part as a child in the public’s romantic dreams of Camelot?  I’m not quite sure.

There’s an enormous problem in the Senate right now with entitlement, with the sense that its members owe their allegiance to each other and not to the public.  Witness Joe Lieberman’s recent confirmation of Homeland Security Chairman, when Democratic Senators circled the wagons and helped him hold on to power — despite the fact that he refused to hold hearings into the government’s response to Hurricane Katrina and protected billions of dollars in contractor graft from being investigated.  Nobody, including Howard Dean, seemed to think that his performance record as head of the Committee was something that should even be taken into consideration.

The new Senate is going to face incredible challenges in the upcoming session, and we’re lucky this year that it will be infused with some much-needed new blood.  It’s not a place for anyone to be wearing political training wheels.    If Caroline Kennedy aspires to that lofty perch, let her run for something first — her name recognition, political connections and ability to fund raise should make it a cake walk. It could be a tough year for Democrats in 2010.  It would be good to have her in the game.

In the mean time, I’m glad she had fun being part of a winning campaign in a year that saw a rather rosy playing field for Democrats.  But simply being well-known and a member of the "American nobility" in a celebrity-driven society shouldn’t be enough to axiomatically entitle her to be a member of the US Senate.


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