Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Senator Caroline Kennedy?

There's growing talk about Caroline Kennedy becoming Hillary Clinton's replacement as Senator of New York. This is an interesting development and one I fully support. However, I also heard talk that Caroline Kennedy was being considered for the Ambassadorship to Great Britain, as her grandfather, Joseph Kennedy was appointed by President Franklin Roosevelt to be the Ambassador to the Court of St. James just before the world devolved into war.

I know some detractors and Kennedy-haters are against this selection, but it does make sense. The Senate is a high profile office and most of the ones who want it are members of the House of Representatives, which New York has plenty of, yet none with a high profile name that can tap into a fundraising base as easily as a Kennedy. There's also history between the Kennedys and New York. In 1964, Robert F. Kennedy left the Attorney General position in the Johnson Administration to run for Senate of New York. He was accused, like Hillary after him, of being a carpetbagger. However, the Kennedy sense of humour downplayed the controversy. Because he had a large family (I don't recall off hand how many children he had at the time, but I'm thinking at least 7 by 1964, and ultimately 11 by the time he died), he said that by moving to New York, he already did more than most New Yorkers in growing the population and increasing the electoral vote. Also, he was born in New York.

In 2000, reports came out that John F. Kennedy, Jr. was supposedly livid in his last months alive in 1999 that Hillary Clinton was planning to run for the Senate seat. He had been expected to run for political office at some point, though his main focus remained his magazine, George, which had been struggling around the time of his fatal airplane accident. I had hoped to see John Kennedy run for political office and return the mythological "Camelot" back into the White House. He should've listened to his mother. She feared all his life that he would die in an airplane accident, thus why he didn't take up flying until she died in 1994.

In 2002, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend (eldest daughter of Robert F. Kennedy), ran for Governor of Maryland. She was the Lieutenant Governor and should've easily won in a Democratic state. When she lost to her Republican opponent, it effectively killed off her political career and the hope or possibility that she might be the Kennedy to return to the White House.

The other Kennedys from Robert's line with political aspirations include the disgraced former Congressman Joseph Kennedy of Massachusetts, who had planned to run for governor in 1998 until a series of scandals pushed him out; and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., who is supposedly interested in running for New York's Attorney General office in 2010. Senator Ted Kennedy's son Patrick is currently a Congressman from Rhode Island, but seems to be biding his time until a senate seat opens up in that tiny state.

So that leaves Caroline, the sole survivor of the tragic John F. Kennedy line. She has never shown an interest in public life. She inherited her mother's obsession with privacy that she even wrote a book about privacy issues in the age of electronic monitoring. However, after her more public brother's death in 1999, she seems to have emerged from her shell and grown more comfortable in the spotlight. It's hard to imagine what it must be like to see your entire family pass away and you're left alone, especially when your younger brother died through an accident that could've been prevented if he wasn't such a physical risk-taker.

I'm a huge fan of the Kennedys. I love that family. For as long as I can remember, I thought of myself as an "unofficial" Kennedy political offspring. I never let anyone talk shit about the family in my presence. Yes, there have been numerous scandals and ethical lapses, and even financial schemes by the patriarch (Joseph Kennedy). However, what I love about the family is their sense of loyalty to one another, their belief in the noblesse oblige principle (because much has been given to them, they in turn give much in return through their public service), and their idealism. When I think of the Kennedys, I think of the Peace Corps, the Special Olympics (started by JFK's sister Eunice Shriver, mother of Maria Shriver, who is currently First Lady of California and married to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger), the space program, and just an all-around coolness. These days, Senator Obama is the true inheritor of the Kennedy brand.

With Senator Ted Kennedy ailing from a brain cancer, his remaining time is ticking, and I'm sure that the family would like the Kennedy legacy to continue in the Senate. Is it right for Caroline to bypass many ambitious would-be Senators? That may be up for the people of New York to decide in 2010, when they can have their say. However, for now, it's up to the Governor of New York, and with the scandal in Illinois about how a Governor goes about selecting a replacement Senator, the Governor of New York can't afford to look like he's selling the seat.

From what I know about previous Senate appointments, they generally go to a well-known politician. It happened in 2000 when Senator Paul Coverdell of Georgia died. Governor Roy Barnes picked popular former Governor Zell Miller to replace the Republican senator, which caused an uproar in Georgia because both Governor Barnes and former Governor Miller are Democrats. We know how poorly that selection turned out, as Senator Zell Miller became a rabid and ranting lunatic who gave a vile speech at the 2004 Republican National Convention against fellow Democrat (and fellow Vietnam War veteran John Kerry) in favor of draft dodging Bush. He served until January 2005, which is just as well. His senate term was a disgrace.

As for New York, they have a Democratic governor in a heavily Democratic state. There's talk of the need to appoint a female replacement for Hillary Clinton. While I don't agree with that sentiment, I do agree that Caroline Kennedy would be a great selection. However, I don't know much of anything about New York politics, so they might have many capable candidates. From a national perspective, though, it's hard to argue against a Senator Caroline Kennedy. She has name recognition and the network necessary to be successful in that office. And most important of all, she knows a lot about privacy issues and that may be just the person we need to reverse some of Bush's wiretapping and electronic spying on the American people.

Caroline Kennedy's presence in the Senate would remind Americans of all that was good about the Kennedy family. And as I believe that America won't accept two dynasties at the same time, it's almost karmic justice that the outgoing disasterous Bush dynastic heir ruins chances for brother Jeb to run for Senate in 2010 or possible future presidential aspirations. The Kennedys didn't fare well during the Bush years, but with the emergence of Kennedyesque Obama as president, who is reported to be close to Caroline Kennedy, this is one partnership I'd love to see. Perhaps if Caroline Kennedy does a great job in the Senate, she'll be the frontrunner to become the first woman president in 2016. Or maybe the Senate remains her only political aspiration. That all remains to be seen, but I'm excited by the possibility.

Here's to a return to Camelot! Long live the Kennedy family!

1 comment:

Margie's Musings said...

I agree! I too would like to see a Senator Carolyn Kennedy.