Sweet Caroline - Macleans.ca

Sweet Caroline


Baby boomers will fondly recall the photos of Caroline Kennedy with her father, and who can forget the heart-wrenching photo of her taken the day of JFK’s funeral? Kennedy is now thrust in the public eye for reasons unassociated with nostalgia or sweetness: she wants to become the next senator of New York. For the first time in her life, she is at the centre of a controversy, with questions swirling over her qualifications to fill Hillary Clinton’s seat. Welcome to the world of politics.

At first glance, the detractors have a point. She may have a magic name, but her credentials appear to be rather thin when compared with some less-famous pretenders. Her appearances in the media in recent days have done little to dissipate the doubts or the opposition. Her latest claim to fame has much to do with her pivotal support of Barack Obama’s candidacy. Of course, this did nothing to endear her to Clinton Democrats. My guess is that Governor David Patterson will select Caroline anyway.

Kennedy brings many attributes to the table. Aside from the famous family connection, she has, in a private way, led a model life, participating in numerous volunteer and fundraising ventures, writing books on the US constitution, and working for various causes in need—not to mention raising a family and becoming a lawyer. Tragedy has struck her life and family in immeasurable ways and she has dealt with this by showing grace and courage through it all. This may not be a credential in itself, but it shows character. Her resume is modest, but we know the newly elected president faced a similar obstacle. And in the end, Obama overcame it and many other obstacles along the way. The detractors are correct to debate her candidacy, but my belief is that, if she is chosen, her character and temperament will justify Patterson’s decision.


Sweet Caroline

  1. Well I agree with your second paragraph. She isn’t qualified but will probably be named anyway. I totally disagree with your third paragraph however. Obama has won the election but has yet to overcome his lack of experience. He hasn’t governed yet. We have yet to know if his lack of experience will be detrimental to his presidency. Obama had to convince a nation that he was the best man for the job, regardless of his little experience. He succeeded. Caroline has to convince but one man of the same thing, and looks like she will do it. What a shame. Endorsing the winning candidate and enduring family tragedy does not make you fit to be appointed Senator. Nor does living through events that are beyond your control give you courage. She may have grace but who cares?

  2. If it was up to me, I would eliminate appointed senators and make them run in special elections. The problem is not that she’s unqualified, what are the qualifications to be a senator?, but that she’s being appointed solely due to her name and baby boomer nostalgia.

    Senate seats aren’t meant to be family heirlooms which is how it’s being treated at the moment in NY and a couple other states. Let Caroline run in proper election and let NY’ers decide if she’s qualified, if she’s up to the job.

    Personally, I don’t think she has what it takes to be senator, she comes across as a mousy dilettante.

    • Well and indeed Caroline *will* run in an election in 2010 and then another in 2012 for a full term, so I’m not sure why you’ve got your panties in a bunch about this.

      Pretending like she’s “not qualified” whatever that means, forgets that not one of the other 99 Senators is “qualified” in any meaningful way. They don’t have to pass a test of competence or intelligence – it would be a hard slog to convince anyone that Caroline Kennedy is less capable or experienced than Hillary Clinton was when she first ran for the Senate, and I think even her most ardent detractors would admit she turned out to be a good Senator. And by comparison to certified morons in the Senate like Bunning or Inhofe, she’s George freakin’ Mitchell.

      States like New York are very difficult to run Senate campaigns in, because they are so large, and therefore expensive. Kennedy’s ability to raise money easily eclipses that of any other Democrat, as does her ability to gain access to important people, especially the President. How she came by that privilege is a secondary question – the important thing is that she has it. Paterson would be making a responsible choice by selecting Kennedy, in ensuring that the seat remains in Democratic hands in the long run.

      • I am not bleating about qualifications, it seems like you haven’t read what I wrote and decided to have a rant instead. I am against people being appointed to Congress and think there should be elections instead.

        I am curious to know what people who are supporting Kennedy for senator, who has zero experience, thought of Palin and her bid to become vp.

        It seems to me a lot of people who were against Palin claimed it was her lack of experience that was most damning about her candidacy for a position that holds no power or defined role but are now cheerleading for a woman who has no political experience for a position that holds a great deal of power and influence.

        • As I pointed out to you above, there are elections. Kennedy, if chosen, will be appointed to fill the term until the next election. I’m not sure what about this concept is unclear to you. I’m also not sure what the alternative is, short of leaving the seat vacant until the election.

          As for the Palin comparison, I suspect you know it doesn’t hold. If Obama had selected Kennedy for VP, I’d have said it was a bad and irresponsible choice and she was unprepared for that position, and so would have most people. As it happens, she isn’t being selected for VP. For the record, though, I seriously doubt that Kennedy could compete with Palin for sheer ignorance of some very basic issues of politics and government. In addition to having a JD from Columbia, Kennedy’s written a few books on the Constitution – Palin couldn’t even reliably answer questions about what a VP does.

          I’m also not sure how you get that one Senator among a hundred, in a body where power is derived almost entirely from seniority, wields more power or influence than the Vice President.

          • Yes, but she would first face the electorate with the benefit of incumbency, which provides her with an unfair advantage against both other Democrats in a primary and other candidates in the general election. I’m not saying she’s unqualified, just that I think she should face the electorate *before* being put into office.

          • It would be wonderful to believe that opposition to Kennedy is grounded in some kind of objective opposition to Senatorial appointments in general, rather than full-on hate of her name and her family’s legacy, but that would, regrettably, be stretching credulity beyond its breaking point. Senate appointments occur on rather a regular basis, yet I can’t recall a single one raising so much as a question or a comment about the appointee’s qualifications, or about the practice of Senate appointments in general. Where was the media handwringing over Roger Wicker’s qualifications to replace Trent Lott, or when, even more egregiously, Sarah Palin’s erstwhile rival for the governorship, Frank Murkowski, appointed his daughter Lisa.

            As a purely practical matter, I’m not sure what the value is in holding a primary election for the seat *now*, when Kennedy is likely to win such a primary by an overwhelming margin. Moreover, the only even semi-serious opposition comes from Andrew Cuomo, another scion of a political family beloved by New Yorkers, and hated by Republicans. If, by 2010, there is a Democrat brave enough to challenge Kennedy in a statewide primary, they are of course free to do so.

            As an even more practical matter, Kennedy will be appointed because Obama wants her to be appointed. In my view, that can only be a good thing. Having access to the President can only enhance her ability to contribute to the Senate, which can be notoriously frustrating for freshmen. I’m not sure how choosing a two-bit Congressman with no name recognition can serve the interests of New Yorkers better.

    • fortunately it is not up to you but you have a point about Palin . However , vp is more important than NY Senator .

  3. I am tired of hearing about this family. And this woman is undeserving.

    • I disagree and hopes she will be chosen .