Caroline's by no means assured an appointment, of course, despite all her glamour and name recognition. As John Fund reports, New York Governor David Paterson, himself recently appointed to office upon the fall of Eliot Spitzer, has a powerful incentive to appoint New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo to replace Hillary Clinton. By sending Cuomo to Washington, Paterson would remove one of his top rivals in home state politics.
Today's Los Angeles Times offers an interesting take on all of this, focusing on New York's dynasty politics. Recall, for example, that Cuomo is a former in-law to Caroline, having once been married to Kerry Kennedy, the daughter of Robert F. Kennedy, Caroline's late uncle.
In any case, I like this section from the Times article:
The joke in the U.S. Capitol this week is that a primal scream echoing through the hallways is from the senior senator from New York, Charles E. Schumer, a Democrat with a voracious appetite for attention even by the self-promotional standards of Washington. He was first overshadowed when the former president's wife waltzed in to New York to win her Senate seat in 2000. And now he may again be eclipsed by the supernova of the 51-year-old Kennedy, even though it's unclear, as one graybeard of New York politics put it, whether "she can cut the mustard."See more analysis at Memeorandum (here and here).
This is a woman who long avoided the public -- a seemingly shy princess of Camelot who moved with her reclusive mother, Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy, and younger brother, John Jr., to Manhattan's Upper East Side a year after her father, President John F. Kennedy, was assassinated. She later graduated from Radcliffe College at Harvard University and Columbia Law School; she married Edwin Schlossberg but never officially changed her name. She wrote and edited books and became a fixture not only at the openings of the American Ballet Theatre but also on the walk to school with her daughters and at her son's basketball scrimmages in sweaty public school gyms.
Kennedy has always been close to Uncle Ted, the iconic Sen. Edward M. Kennedy from Massachusetts, who walked her down the aisle and whom she reportedly speaks to several times a week.
But she only began stepping out as a high-profile political surrogate earlier this year after delivering a timely endorsement of Obama over Clinton.
"She always asked campaign staff on the ground how she could make the most out of her appearances, and apparently she did," said Joel Benenson, a former New York political writer and the lead pollster for the Obama campaign.
Robert Shrum, a Democratic strategist close to the Kennedy family for decades, said Caroline Kennedy needed to get her children launched (two of the three are in college) before she was ready to move into a more public chapter of her life.
Citing her inherent intelligence and leadership at the Harvard University Institute of Politics and John F. Kennedy Library Foundation, Shrum said: "She'd be a terrific senator. Caroline has always been interested in politics and public life."
Still, it is one thing for Kennedy to be treated as an admired flower under glass and quite another to be the target of pesky political observers and covetous rivals.
Despite the collective swooning over Kennedy this week, it's far from certain that she is a shoo-in to become the next senator from New York. (More back story: Her uncle Bobby, who was also assassinated, once had the same job.)
Photo Credit: Los Angeles Times