Reports continue to pour in from the chattering class about pushback from both sides of the aisle regarding the possible appointment of Caroline Kennedy to fill Hillary Clinton’s soon to be vacant Senate seat. Allow me to add one more voice to the chorus from the perspective of one who has seen our junior Senator’s seat occupied by persons of questionable qualifications for some time now. It’s not that I hold any particular malice against Caroline nor the Kennedy clan in general. I have great respect for the public service provided by many of her relatives, (not to mention the fact that, as an opponent of prohibition, I’ve always been a big fan of bootleggers) and her many charitable activities are to be admired. But what sort of background and personal attributes would she bring to a job in the upper chamber?
A brief look at Ms. Kennedy’s professional career might prove telling. Yes, she has a law degree and is a member of the bar in two states, which is very nice. But among her jobs and professional accomplishments she lists the following:
Co-founder of the Profiles in Courage Awards (in honor of her father)
Two years in a three day per week job with NYC Dept. of Education (fundraising)
Vice Chair of The Fund for Public Schools
President of the Kennedy Library Foundation (I’m sure the name is a coincidence)
Honorary Chairman of the American Ballet Theatre
In short, most of Ms. Kennedy’s life has been spent in honorary positions, largely non-competitive and often provided either by her family or by people who wanted the name of a Kennedy on their board of directors. Again, much of this work is admirable, but it hardly paints a picture of a hard-working, charge-to-the-top personality. Let’s face it… the woman is an heiress. If politics were an industry, Caroline Kennedy would be the equivalent of Paris Hilton. Being a Senator is a serious job which will often require long hours and tremendous responsibility. What is there in her past to give us confidence that she’s up to the task? What sort of drive and fight exists in her to handle the challenges of the campaign trail? (Remember, she’ll be spending much of her first four years battling to win two consecutive elections for that Senate seat in 2010 and again in 2012.)
There are so many other proven horses in this race, it’s somewhat bizarre to imagine that this is the best we can do here in New York. When Hillary Clinton was running for this seat in 2000, I opposed her on very similar grounds. If my toilet is broken I’ll call a plumber, not someone who was married to a plumber. The same sentiment applies to the plumber’s daughter. Hillary, at least, gets credit for having to win an election (such as it was) to take the job. Kennedy is looking to simply have it handed to her, much as everything else has apparently been laid at her feet up till now. New York, (and Governor Paterson in particular) we can and should do better.
UPDATE: From the comments section, SuperDestroyer chimes in with a suggestion I wish I’d thought of first.
Patterson should nominate some sort of place holder who does not have big ambitions. Then Cuomo, Kennedy, and others can run in 2010 without one of them having the advantage of being the incumbent.
ms. Kennedy should run if she wants to, but she should not be the incumbent when she runs.