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Sundries
...a sweatshop of moxie

Friday, December 19, 2008

Caroline Kennedy Is Good Enough

I have been following the "Caroline Kennedy to the Senate in place of Hillary" saga as long as everyone else, and I confess -- I still do not get it.

Why is Liberal America in such a tizzy of distaste at the prospect?

Of course, not just liberals veer from astonished to annoyed about this matter, but it's understood that conservatives would be in opposition. Being anti-Kennedy is a Republican birthright.

No. It's evident that as the Left blog about Governor Paterson's forthcoming decision, they are each day less and less amused that the choice should fall on the demure shoulders of this 51 year-old woman, one of the earliest to break with the Clintons and back Obama, at that.



It's just really fascinating to watch this unfold with such thinly disguised animosity towards Caroline's candidacy. And here I must say this -- I use her Christian name not as an intimate, obviously, but as recognition that she's been a part of American life since she was 3 years old. If her late brother was "America's Prince", she was his princess foil.

But hers is a life touched by endless tragedy, a story all of us could recite by rote from her father's assassination to her brother's disappearance off of Martha's Vineyard.

Such characters in a novel or in a film are usually hateable (due to the curse of human jealousy), unless their elevated social status is tinged with tragedy, or they redeem themselves by liking the poor. That has been the hook of almost every story dealing with the high and mighty since Aeschylus all the way to wayward Rose's love of the impoverished Jack in that dismal "Titanic". Only Proust could write about aristocrats with such approval, and still make people like them.

Could it be Kennedy herself that causes such a backlash?

I have heard liberal bloggers say she is a bad speaker. Yes, she's stilted. But have you heard Nancy Pelosi in action? Eye-crossingly boring.

I have heard some refer to her "debutante" New York status. Yes, but she's done an impressive amount of charity work, a legacy she took over when her mother died.

I have heard people say she is a dilettante. Then so was Obama when he ran for the Senate. They are both Harvard grads, both lawyers, and both published authors.

Unlike Barack Obama, her first book was a well-received co-authored one about the Bill of Rights, called The Right To Privacy. In fact, had this been an Obama book instead of a Kennedy book, I would've considered him less of an empty suit.

Having mentioned privacy, I think we are getting closer to the reason why 'Caroline Kennedy for the Senate' is off to such a rocky start.

This woman is notoriously, almost morbidly private, or as much as she can be as the fabled daughter of that political dynasty -- the Kennedys.

You can see her doing the entertainment rounds in New York, but rarely for the exclusive benefit of social diarists. It's always a cause, a benefit, or an awards ceremony, not a movie premiere preening in front of paparazzi.

Also, by all accounts, she is an involved and caring wife/mother.

She is certainly taking her mother's famous dictum to heart that it doesn't matter what else you do in life, if you fail as a mother first, the other stuff is almost meaningless.

(That must've been a zinger to the heart of Ethel Kennedy)

I have heard it say that Democrats don't want families becoming political dynasties with a sense of entitlement, which is real funny coming about the lady who would succeed Hillary Clinton. Honestly, do people even think out their objections? Dear God.

I could go on and on about this, including re-emphasising the fact that Caroline backed Obama for President over Hillary Clinton in such a way, as to make his dedicated followers proud of her sound political instincts.

But it's almost as naught.

For them, she intrudes in some strange way into their fantasy that the Democratic Party is for the working-class, or for those who rose up by their talent or grit -- and no one else need apply.

Kids, I got news for you: You guys have more millionaires and celebrities who back you publicly than we Rethuglicans do. It's long been the Party of Moët and private jets, not of Pabst Blue Ribbon and F-150s. Wake up and smell the Prada.

What do we have so far as points against her becoming a Senator?

- She has nil political experience.

Except for the fact that she's actively breathed politics since she was in her cradle.

I'm sorry; it counts. I know Americans don't like to hear this, but one's background really does give you a leg up in certain matters, and politics is definitely one of them. It may not appeal to the democratic nature of American culture, but to discount it totally smacks of a lack of sophistication, and not knowing how life works.

- She has never given a political speech in her life and was "scrambling" in Syracuse yesterday, putting herself forward as Senate candidate.

Really? Did I imagine all those interviews and discourses on politics not just in 2008, including at the DNC, but throughout her adult life?

- She is just a celebrity.

Riiight. Because we all know New Yorkers do not like famous people to horn in unto their political caste...

At the end of the day, she would be a caretaker Senator from New York, who would at worst have to run again in two years.

This isn't a life-time appointment, and if she's not up to snuff, there are other Democrats who I am certain would gladly run against her in 2010. In fact, she may decide the Senate gig isn't for her (it is really an intrusive proposition for a woman disinclined to be a public figure), and decline to run altogether.

You know, 2008 revealed itself to be a year where two women battled for two of the highest positions in the land, and for their bothers, they had to endure incredibly embarrassing levels of abuse, not from Republicans, mind you. But from Democrats.

Today, as I read the oft-insipid Jane Hamsher making her mealy-minded points about Caroline Kennedy on Huffington Post, I am reminded yet again that women do not support women. Worse yet, we make sexist points when referring to them (sometimes even in an otherwise positive piece), which in Hamsher's case was her original post about the topic, which included this lovely line:

Really? She's "making calls this morning to alert political figures to her interest?" I guess it was either that or get her nails done.

I have it on good authority Jane was making this moue when she wrote this.



(Was that really necessary? It's so petty, Jane. Since you don't mind petty, I am repaying you in kind with that comment above. You like?)

And how else is she going to inform the political establishment of casting her hat into the ring, but to actually go out and place some calls -- does HuffPo provide its writers with telepathic lessons that we do not know about? Because you know, maybe Caroline could've closed her eyes, and transmitted her thoughts to Paterson like Uri Geller.

(Don't believe it for a minute that if Kennedy-Schlossberg had called a press conference to formally announce this, that the Left would have given her less of a hard time. They would've probably had said she was being a prima donna. Also, I am reminded of people moaning about the cost of rescuing the remains of her late brother from the bottom of the sea, and those moaning the most seemed to be Democrats...)

By now, you are wondering if this makes me her champion. Not really. I respect her though.

I respect her tenacity and respect her political courage to break with a sure thing, as Hillary Clinton looked to be in January.

I think Caroline Kennedy should be given the same consideration, without the snark and reverse class-snobbery, same as any other candidate.

The point is not that there are better choices out there to fill the Senate vacancy left by Hillary Clinton -- but that Caroline Kennedy is not so bad herself.

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13 Comments:

  • Ah, Vic, I think your Kennedyphilia is showing.

    To me it's simply a sign that even Democrats have a limit to how far they're willing to be treated as peon plebs.

    This is a good thing.

    As for the comparison to Obama: you're forgetting -- he actually ran for something. A bunch of things, in fact. He won by getting Ayers and Wright on his side and having all his opponents removed, but he took his electoral lumps.

    It doesn't matter if she's to be Senator for two months, two years, or two decades: it's perfectly natural to suspect a woman who hasn't yet deigned to get her hands dirty outside her narrow set, and won't have to.

    Yes, they voted for Hillary (because name recognition helps), but not only did she take her lumps, they're sick of her too. Conservatives made the mistake of backing another Bush. Are they now required, for consistency's sake, to back Jeb in 2012 or 2016? I think not.

    By Blogger JSU, at Fri Dec 19, 02:46:00 am GMT-5  

  • But hers is a life touched by endless tragedy, a story all of us could recite by rote from her father's assassination to her brother's disappearance off of Martha's Vineyard.

    I would be surprised if more than 10% of the electorate could do anything of the sort.

    By Blogger JSU, at Fri Dec 19, 02:49:00 am GMT-5  

  • I agree that I am well-disposed to this political family (I am a bit of a dynast), but I think she is really worthy both in intellect -- such a concern for those who hated Palin, and are at pains to compare her to Governor Palin in their warped minds. I am not slagging off Governor Palin, obviously! Just making the DP comparison.

    Are they now required, for consistency's sake, to back Jeb in 2012 or 2016? I think not.

    Jeb would make a fantastic Senator from Florida. He would've been a better President than GW Bush (who has been an utter disappointment in his second term).

    This is really a question of les oranges and les pears, JSU. :P

    Missing you, BTW!

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Fri Dec 19, 02:55:00 am GMT-5  

  • I would be surprised if more than 10% of the electorate could do anything of the sort.

    Come on, now. JFK, RFK assassinations, mother marrying a Greek shipping tycoon and dragging Caroline all over, brother dying in a spectacular airplane accident. I think a good 60-70% could!

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Fri Dec 19, 02:56:00 am GMT-5  

  • but I think she is really worthy both in intellect

    Oops, the other part of the "both" was in intellect and personal knowledge of how politics work.

    Let's remember that this girl now turned woman interned with her uncle Ted, and helped in every campaign her enormous family have run in.

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Fri Dec 19, 02:57:00 am GMT-5  

  • "He would've been a better President than GW Bush"

    Oh, almost certainly. But then, Jeb couldn't get his hands dirty enough to beat the tar out of Lawton Chiles as he could have.

    The intellect thing isn't what's driving this, I think. Palin is very smart, but it's more relevant that she's both stuck to her guns under fire and gotten things done. Kennedy has lived in a world long on consensus and short on bottom lines, and (unless you count her foray into Obama-backing) she's never even been in a situation where she could demonstrate these to the public.

    By Blogger JSU, at Fri Dec 19, 03:03:00 am GMT-5  

  • "I think a good 60-70% could!"

    Vic, I think that before the convention, over half the electorate didn't even know McCain had been a POW.

    The Kennedy thing is a niche interest, particularly outside the boomer set. 60-70% could, with luck, remember that some other Kennedy was assassinated while President -- and with a little more luck remember that some jowly old guy with the name was a Senator (and maybe even that he killed someone). The rest? Not likely, particularly among the young.

    By Blogger JSU, at Fri Dec 19, 03:08:00 am GMT-5  

  • If she wants to run on her name, fine, all of her attributes apply. If she wants to be appointed, even for just two years, because of her name, I object to the dynastic assumption. Because just being in the chair yields an unearned, unelected political advantage if she decides to run. The setting of the "name" precedent tweaks my American nose, because we've had a bit too much of that over the last few years.

    By Blogger Ron, at Fri Dec 19, 03:12:00 am GMT-5  

  • "Missing you, BTW!"

    Me too: thanks for the shout-outs in the previous thread. I'm not sure I can particularly recommend any of this year's remaining broadcasts, btw.

    By Blogger JSU, at Fri Dec 19, 03:19:00 am GMT-5  

  • I would be surprised if more than 10% of the electorate could do anything of the sort.

    I think a good 60-70% could!


    numbers shumbers. I think:

    1) This is kinda of New York thing: So JSU, you have the floor here.
    2) The rest of America does remember those things our hostess reminds us of.
    3) That Jane Hamster chick gets way too much air (she has Obama/Clinton eyes BTW).

    I'd give her chance, at least. She's not her uncle/carbuncle. Nor is she RFK, Jr. (bleech)

    By Blogger chickenlittle, at Fri Dec 19, 03:27:00 am GMT-5  

  • I've seen turds swirling around in the bowl after my morning shite with more common sense than Jane Hampster. Ignore her.

    By Blogger dr kill, at Fri Dec 19, 07:08:00 pm GMT-5  

  • Not all of us liberals have a problem with Caroline. This is what I wrote in the comments here (on a board that discussed the recent push by Bill Clinton to get Chelsea named to the seat-- now THAT WOULD be a very bad pick.)

    Comment from: eli_blake [Member]

    There is a big difference between Caroline and Chelsea.

    Caroline Kennedy, though she decided to raise a family instead of having a career in it, is nonetheless a highly qualified legal mind, having studied and written about numerous issues and a member of the New York Bar. She's also a member of the Commission on Presidential Debates and was the founder of the Profile in Courage Award.

    She has also written several books including
    In our defense: the Bill of Rights in Action; The Right to Privacy and A Patriot's Handbook all of which show a strong civil libertarian lean-- you may not like that (though I do) but it is clear what her priorities are.

    In contrast, what exactly has Chelsea done? And does anyone know exactly what she believes? And let's be blunt here-- I've seen enough of Caroline Kennedy to know that she lives in her own skin, and if she had a disagreement with anyone in Washington (including her uncle) she wouldn't be afraid to tell them where to go. Does Chelsea have it in her to tell off her mom and dad? I don't know.

    12/16/08 @ 15:46/


    I would also add that Caroline Kennedy also chaired Obama's VP search team. And I think she did a good job at it. I remember when Biden was picked, a Republican interviewed was almost giddy-- he said, "There's a thick file on Biden." What he forgot was that yes, there WAS a thick file on Biden, and after Caroline looked through it she recommended to Obama that there wasn't anything in it that would be that damaging. Everyone has something to find, and if you pick someone who is previously unknown (i.e. Palin) then you guarantee that the media will go nuts trying to dig stuff out. So Caroline (who I'm sure knows very well how far the media is willing to go) actually did a pretty good job on behalf of Obama.

    By Blogger Eli Blake, at Sat Dec 20, 04:27:00 pm GMT-5  

  • Eli - hard to contend that she did a good job at it when Biden's name made the short list.

    Victoria, I wouldn't pay much attention to what Hamsher says about anything.

    By Blogger Simon, at Tue Dec 23, 10:22:00 pm GMT-5  

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