Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Caroline Kennedy? Huh?

Caroline Kennedy is now openly campaigning for the Senate seat that Hillary will vacate if she becomes Secretary of State. I find this bizarre. At first, I wasn't sure why she would want it. But it should be obvious: her good friend Barack Obama is about to become president, so serving in public office would be fun in a way that it hasn't been for a long time. Okay, I get that.

But it strikes me as rather arrogant and egotistical to think that you can just jump into being Senator. Caroline Kennedy strikes me as a very nice woman. I'm sure she's smart, I'm sure she has good political instincts, and I'm sure she knows a lot about politics. But after a week, I'm still not sure what her qualifications are. Hillary herself, of course, benefited from her famous name. But she also had a record of holding responsible jobs in public service, and she campaigned for the position, and won. She may have been a carpetbagger, but she did win the election, and reelection. Obama, of course, was accused of having a thin resume, but at least he had held elected office.

Nicholas Kristof thinks this is disrespectful to the other women in New York who have put in the time in elected office. I agree. It's not just disrespectful to those women; it's disrespectful to the people of New York. Who know something about respect and disrespect. There is a real question of whether or not Caroline Kennedy can actually do the job. Electing any governmental representative is not just a question of voters judging them on their policies and beliefs. They are also judged on their qualifications. Being a United States Senator requires a particular set of skills. It also requires that the person not merely have those skills, but have them at a very high level. It's not enough to be smart and a good networker. There's a reason just about every senator holds some other office before being elected to the Senate.

I saw Caroline Kennedy when Michelle Obama came to UCLA during the campaign. I liked her, but I don't remember thinking "Wow, SHE should run for office!" If she's so passionate about public service, where has she been all these years?

It's not personally relevant to me, since I don't live in NY any more, but if I were David Patterson, I would tell Ms. Kennedy thanks, but no thanks.

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