Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Article Of The Week

The article, "She's No Jack Kennedy," by Richard Bradley, who cautions his "view of Kennedy is shaped by personal experience," appeared in Slate on December 8.

Bradley demonstrates that Caroline Kennedy, apparently one of many individuals being considered for selection by New York Governor David Patterson to fill the Senate seat of Hillary Clinton, is no Jack Kennedy or even John F. Kennedy Jr. He argues that Caroline- unlike John Jr., who "enjoyed meeting regular people, rode the subway frequently and happily," and "started a magazine whose intention was to popularize politics"- lacks a common touch.

But Mrs. Schlossberg's inadequacy for the job goes well beyond the personal. (Although Michael Wolff's characterization of her as "a china doll, a kitschy presence" is not far off the mark.) Disregard Mike Bloomberg's recent praise of her as "a very experienced woman, she’s worked very hard for the city. I can just tell you she’s made an enormous difference in New York City," as an effort to ingratiate himself as mayor of New York City with a woman who may be the next senator from New York. Bradley notes Ms. Kennedy's "work with the city's schools was limited to part-time fundraising" and "her commitment to (public service) has always seemed essentially ceremonial."

Caroline Kennedy swooped down on the body politic only this year, while Republicans were busily denying their political heritage, and her claim to serious consideration seems based on privilege. Jane Hamsher of firedoglake.com asserted, because "her uncle once held the seat? Because she's a Kennedy? Because she took part as a child in the public's romantic dreams of Camelot?" She asserts the Senate is "not a place for anyone to be wearing political training wheels" and Bradley explains

Unlike Clinton and Schumer, Kennedy has always seemed more interested in avoiding public issues than engaging them. As an adult, she has tended to work at jobs that didn't require her to work all that hard and didn't require her to mingle with ordinary people. She has a law degree but does not practice law, instead co-writing two books about important Supreme Court cases. The books were typical of Kennedy: high-minded, earnest, but distant, as if she never really wanted to take a position on something relevant to the events and debates of the day. More recently she has published books on more domestic matters, such as A Family of Poems: My Favorite Poetry for Children and The Best-Loved Poems of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.

Sentimentality is a weak reason to appoint someone to the upper chamber of the national legislature, and Bradley is clear, concise, and correct when he writes: "she shouldn't get it."


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