Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Ten Good Reasons Not to Dismiss Caroline Kennedy So Quickly

It seems that quite a few political pundits are dismissing the idea Caroline Kennedy's appointment to the Hillary Clinton's vacant New York Senate seat as nothing more than a form of Camelot nostalgia.

In a recent article for Time, columnist Joe Klein wrote:

" I've met Caroline Kennedy a few times and she seems like a good person. Compared to many children of the rich and famous, she has lived her life quietly, modestly, in exemplary fashion. She has worked hard for worthy causes; those who've worked with her say she is intelligent and self-effacing. Or was self-effacing. You can't really say that she is now, having thrust herself into the midst of the selection process for Hillary Clinton's Senate seat. By doing so, she has displayed an eminently New York quality: chutzpah

If nothing else, Barack Obama's transition demonstrates his intent to launch an era of Real Serious Governance. He has chosen well outside the standard political fast-food menu in some cases--James (OOPs: Steven) Chu, the Secretary of Energy comes to mind. And I'd hope that Governor David Paterson might consider a similar sort of selection--an honorary, non-political (but Democratic) appointee, a person of real, world-class, distinction who would never normally serve in the Senate, to grace the seat until the next election--if he hasn't already been bum-rushed into the Kennedy coronation. Certainly, New York State is filled with extraordinary people."

I agree that New York State is filled with extraordinary people but before everyone dismisses Caroline's bid for office as "chutzpah" or a shot-gun coronation let's consider these ten reasons to think again.

1. Fred Grandy (aka "Gopher" from the TV series "Love Boat") former Congressman from Iowa.

2. Steve Largent, former Seattle Seahawk wide-receiver and former US Congressman from Oklahoma.

3. Jim Bunning former Major Leage Baseball pitcher, former US Congressman and now junior Senator from the state of Kentucky.

4. Tom Osborne, former Nebraska college football coach and Congressman from that State.

5. J.C. Watts, Jr., former quarterback for the University of Oklahoma and later US Congressman for that state.

6. Jack Kemp, former professional football player who began his political career as a Congressman in New York.

7. Sonny Bono, former record producer, musican(?), actor(?) and later Congressman from California.

8. Bill Bradley, Hall of Fame basketball player and former Senator from New Jersey.

9. Arnold Schwarzenegger, (The Terminator) former body builder, actor and now Governor of California ( a state with an economy larger than most countries).

and last but not least ....

10. Ronald Reagan, 40th President of the United States, whose acting career propelled him to the office of Governor of California.

Now I certainly wouldn't question the credentials of the aforementioned list but I would ask just what in their careers as athletes and actors made them more qualified for public service than Caroline Kennedy's experience as a lawyer, constitutional scholar, writer and service on the boards of numerous non-profit institutions.

Caroline Kennedy may not have a long political resume but apparently a little chutzpah and intelligence goes a long way. And it certainly couldn't hurt to be a good person.

None of us chooses the family to which we are born. We can only play the cards that we're dealt. Some might say that Caroline was dealt a good hand but should be held against her.

Maybe she should have played in the WNBA.


  1. Maybe in my next life I'll either get dealt a better hand on the notoriety front or people will start to value qualifications and experience more than fame.

    Not holding my breath!

  2. I'm not holding my breath either. However, since I know so many people who never thought they'd live to see an African American US President, I'm holding out a little hope that one day qualifications will trump fame, looks and gender.

    P.S. If I were given another ride on the merry-go-round I'd skip the fame and just take the money.

  3. I hear what you are saying...but
    there are some other really qualified women who are already serving in Congress that deserve a look.

    Personally, I don't know how she is
    going to be able to make the "leap"
    from a person who has guarded her privacy to getting down in the mud
    with the press, public, and other New York pols.

    If nothing else, it will keep the talk show busy.

  4. Wamlist,

    I agree that I can't imagine Caroline getting down in the mud like most politicians but is that the standard that she will be measured against. If that's the case then what is this "Change" that everyone is crying for.

    Even though I make no secret that RFK was one of my personal heroes, this post isn't meant to be a full endorsement of his niece. I'm not sure that she is the best person to hold the Senate seat either.

    I just think that the pundits who are dismissing Caroline as nothing more than a Kennedy with a sense of entitlement and her supporters as aging Kennedy worshipers need to be a little less bias in their assessment of the situation.

    And I can't help but wonder if this was the late JFK, Jr. or even Jeff Van Gundy that was being considered, the conversation wouldn't be very different.


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