Thursday, December 18, 2008

Caroline Kennedy and the Family Dynasty

The recent media attention to Caroline Kennedy, who is lobbying for an appointment to the U.S. Senate, is not that big of a deal to me. She's certainly under-qualified, but I'm one of those who remains fascinated by the Kennedy mystique, and seeing Caroline in power in Washington will likely give many Americans a warm sense of nostalgia in a period of tumultuous socioeconomic change.

Kennedy Family

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."

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.)
See more analysis at Memeorandum (here and here).

Photo Credit: Los Angeles Times

11 comments:

commoncents said...

Great post!

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shoprat said...

With the so-called Kennedy curse, I wouldn't want anything to do with politics if I was in that family.

Philippe Ohlund said...

I was almost 4 years old when John F. Kennedy was assassinated.

I actually have my first memory from my mother, when we were watching television in Sweden and got the terrible news.

I remember that my mother was completely devastated, and that she cried when we got the awful news.

I believe Caroline Kennedy has a very important mission to fulfill, and I wish her all the best of luck.

Norm said...

Unless she changes her mind her appointment is a done deal. In return, Gov. Patterson (who was not elected governor) will get tremendous financial and personal help from Obama in the next gubnatorial election.

Democrats are worried about this appointment because Rep. Peter King, Rep. Suffolk County, NY, has already thrown his hat into the ring for the 2010 Senatorial election. He will be a very strong candidate as he is already well known throughout the state and country. He is very popular among Republicans and Conservatives. So many of my local Democrat leaders wonder out loud whether or not Kennedy will be a viable candidate against King in 2010.

In addition, by 2010 it will be known that another Kennedy will take over Ted's seat; and a third Kennedy will be contesting a seat in Rhode Island. The picture of an American royal family could be a negative here in NYS.

Law and Order Teacher said...

Schumer is an egotistical jerk not worthy of discussion. Caroline Kennedy is someone who would fit very nicely into the slot once occupied by her uncle. NY loves celebrities more than anything, hence they elect them to various offices. She has no track record, no training and has accomplished exactly nothing out of the ordinary. Wow, we're lucky she didn't run for president. She's probably more qualified than Hillary was when she ran and she really is a resident of NY.

Grace Explosion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
JBW said...

Personally, I find the idea of American royalty and political dynasties repugnant; didn't we run those tea-sipping, biscuit-munchers out of here 232 years ago because we were tired of kings and all of their bullshit (sorry Don, "bovine excrement")? And I object to either a Hillary Clinton or Jeb Bush presidency for exactly the same reasons.

Maybe it's because she's avoided public life for the most part or because I'm too young to remember her and her family in the White House but I really don't know anything about the woman. She's not even being asked any questions about her stance on any issues by the press: isn't that their job? I know she's a Kennedy but I highly doubt any of the Republicans on this site would want Ron Reagan Jr. just being handed a senate seat.

Will she make a good senator? Who knows; there are certainly a lot of idiots in that chamber already so the bar is not exactly set that high. Will she be offered the job? From everything I read the answer is almost a definite yes; I'm not saying that I'm opposed to it, just that I know next to nothing about the woman.

More important to me is that whoever gets the seat votes with the Democrats on the issues I care about; other than that, you can install a ficus plant in the seat for all I care (oh, the ficus has to be a good fundraiser and get reelected in 2010, too).

Anonymous said...

i have seen example after example of Schumer's face mooning as close to cameras as he can cram himself behind whomever is in front of the cameras. what a publicity hound. ugh.

i guess if a cypher like Obama can be President without real qualifications, Caroline is no less qualified for a lesser post as Senator.

Not liking all these 'dynasties' though.

Average American said...

It seems like experience is no longer an issue in American politics. As long as you can walk and chew gum at the same time, you're in! Oh well, I suppose NY could do worse than Caroline. Maybe Michelle will conveniently move to NY later on and run for the Senate like Billary did.

JBW said...

Wow, what witty and insightful comments: hate, bash, hate, bash.

Just wondering Don: are you gonna smack down the Anon commenters that talk shit (sorry: fecal matter) and agree with you, telling them to get their own blogs as well? It's your site of course but were it me, I'd be embarrassed by hypocrisy; but as I said, that's just me. Maybe my nihilism and socialistic tendencies blind me to the superior ethics of conservatives.

karmikkurmudjun said...

Grace ... is it something in the water up there in NY? JFK did not die for this country. He died because a sick punk with a gun and a huge ego decided to shoot him, and a dumb secret service failed to protect him by agreeing to let him ride in an open-air limosine. That hardly qualifies Caroline Kennedy to be a US Senator. This is a serious political position into which she has not put one ounce of personal effort. She hasn't paid her dues, she has no clue what she is getting into, she's just a big celebrity phoney. On the other hand, I hope that she does get the job. All the easier for Peter King to trounce in an election. If Caroline Kennedy is the best the Obots can come up with, this country will next elect Al Franken as US Senator. lololol OMG They just did! She will be more qualified than Franken. The fairytale called Obamalot begins...

lmao :-D

karmi