Caroline Or Change?

Ken AshfordCongress, DemocratsLeave a Comment

Caroline2 Several A-list liberal bloggers are quite unhappy with the prospect of Caroline Kennedy taking over Clinton's Senate seat:

  • Firedoglake's Hamsher: "It seems Caroline Kennedy has decided she'd rather have a US Senate seat than a pony for Christmas. […] It appears Ms. Kennedy thinks that US Senate seats are something to lobbied for amongst political elites when one decides one wants them, and that the public should be happy to simply fall in line. The fact that one has a family political machine currently in the process of steamrolling David Paterson and a famous last name should be enough for the little people. I thought at least she'd get out before the cameras and start making her case to the public before she announced her intentions, because simply lobbying your well-connected buddies just oozes an outrageous sense of entitlement and insufferable pomposity."
  • Open Left's Chris Bowers: "Frankly, I consider [Kennedy] to be undeserving of the seat, given that she has never won an election and that basically her only qualification would be her family name. Further, at a time when Democrats are suffering from a major corruption scandal over Senate appointments, appointing a dynasty candidate would only add fuel to that fire. Republicans will run in 2010 on an argument that one-party rule leads to waste and corruption, so nepotism like this would be a bad idea."
  • Mother Jones' Kevin Drum: "Rich and famous people already have a huge leg up when it comes to winning political office, but at least they still have to run and win. Appointing them instead so they can avoid the whole messy business of engaging in a campaign is just a little too Habsburgian for my taste. Needless to say, I've got nothing against Kennedy. But appointing her to the Senate just isn't the right thing to do."
  • Daily Kos' Moulitsas: "When you're rich and come from a political family, and are heir to American royalty, you can apparently dispense with dealing with pesky voters by simply ringing up the governor. […] Kennedy might very well be a favorite of Democratic primary voters in a contested race (and current polls suggest that), but that would require her to run, and elections can expose candidate weaknesses not readily apparent before the harsh glare of the spotlight is trained on them. In 2002, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend lost her bid for the governorship of heavily Democratic Maryland despite entering the race with a 27-point lead in the polls. In 2004, Sen. Jean Carnahan lost the special election to the seat she was appointed to in 2002 after her husband was tragically killed in an airplane accident. But running for office is an icky process. It's hard work. Much harder, of course, than merely picking up the phone and calling the governor."

I respectfully dissent.  I think she would be an excellent choice.

Sure, she's a Kennedy, but I don't think that makes her less qualified than otherwise.  She's certainly been around politics her whole life; there's no learning curve there.  And it's not like she's going to be a Kennedy in the womanizing and getting-drunk sense.

Furthremore, she's a Columbia Law graduate and co-author of two books: In Our Defense: The Bill of Rights in Action and The Right to Privacy.  Having a senator cognizant of the Constitution is a good thing.  She will also be a champion for education and funding for the arts.  She's served on several prominent boards, including Obama's transition team.  And her "celebrity" status might bring some light to key progressive bills and legislation that might not otherwise be there.

Yes, it's true that she could have decided to be a politician decades ago.  And yes, she chose other paths, never having run for elected office.  But again, how does that make her a less able senator than someone who has been a career politician?  It's worth noting the seat she is seeking was held by both her Uncle Bobby and Hillary, neither of whom ran for political office before becoming a senator either.

RELATED:  In an article at Politico, discussing the "nepotism" of the Democratic Party (e.g., Caroline taking Hillary's seat; Jesse Jackson Jr. taking Obama's seat; Beau Biden taking Biden's seat), we find this quote:

“Democrats seem to lack a common man who can just win a good, old-fashioned election,” said Rep. Tom Reynolds (R-N.Y.), the former chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee. “They’ve got seat-warmers, seat-sellers and the making of pillows for the seats of royalty. No wonder the public wonders what’s going on in Washington.”

Excuse me?  Who is currently the president, and what was his father's prior occupation???