Caroline Kennedy Qualification Question.
Harvard grad. Lawyer. New York Times best selling author. Multi-million-dollar fundraiser for one of the nation’s largest public school systems. Member of the boards of several non-profit organizations ranging from the Commission on Presidential Debates and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, to the American Ballet Theater. Part of a three-member team which found a running mate for a presidential nominee.
Sounds like the resume of an accomplished professional. But throw in these two words -- Caroline Kennedy -- and suddenly, that same resume is considered to be so slender as to render its owner unworthy to even ask to be considered to fill a soon-to-be-vacant U.S. Senate seat from New York.
Whatever you think of the Kennedy family and whether members of so-called political dynasties should be considered for public posts based on their names alone (like a Bush, a Cuomo, a Clinton, a Jackson), what really disturbs me about the criticism of Kennedy’s request to be included in the pool of candidates to potentially assume Hillary Clinton’s Senate seat when New York Governor David Paterson makes his final decision, is that people are describing her as unqualified simply because she hasn’t held elective office. When it’s pointed out that First Lady Hillary Clinton had held no elected office when she ran for Senate -- when, unlike Kennedy, she didn’t even live in New York -- Kennedy detractors say, “Well, at least Hillary ran for the office. She earned it by getting her hands dirty.”
Here are the facts: There will be an open U.S. Senate seat in New York after Clinton officially becomes the Secretary of State. The person who will fill it, until the term expires in two years, will be appointed by Paterson, whose own father was deeply involved in New York politics. The election for this seat is two years away. Like it or not, someone will be the chosen, not elected, for that seat. That’s the way the system works. So what’s with all the hating on Kennedy for simply tossing her name into the mix?
As a New Englander, I’ve witnessed a number of male Kennedys come and go in public office over the years. When a Kennedy’s name is bandied about for this post or that one, it’s not unusual to hear grumbling about the fact that we are no longer royal subjects and that we shouldn’t have a de facto royal family whose members automatically get political posts simply because they desire them. So when it comes to the anti-dynasty line of argument, I can understand to some degree. In a piece in the Washington Post, Ruth Marcus, while calling Kennedy’s resume “impressive,” said, “. . . [P]olitical dynasties are fundamentally un-American.”