Kennedy Wants Clinton’s Senate Seat, But Some Cry Foul. Is All Fair In Politicis and Kennedys?

After more than a week of does she or doesn’t she chatter, Obama supporter and childhood education activist Caroline Kennedy has made her intentions for Hillary Clinton’s New York senate more clear. The New York Times recently wrote that Kennedy wants the job.

Some are surprised. Kennedy has spent nearly all of her life out of the political fray. While her cousins ran for office, she worked on her charities, wrote and edited books and mostly remained a political wallflower/family symbol as the only surviving child of President John F. Kennedy. While educated and politically curious, she simply didn’t seem interested and who could blame her? Her entire family tree is littered with politicians, some successful, some not, some who like their Ambien and alcohol too much and some who faced an untimely demise.

Politics is an ugly business and you have to be one part Messiah complex, one part biggest ego in the world to withstand the dramarama that surrounds it. You have to be think you’re Allen Iverson, that you’re “The Answer” to the problems of your constituents. That you can deliver … hopefully better than Iverson.

This is a compliment to Kennedy in the fact that I, quite honestly, did not think she had the ego for it.

Kennedy sank her gigantic familial chompers in for a huge bite of the political apple this year when she threw her reputation and last name behind Barack Obama for president. Apparently she is hungry for more.

But not everyone is skipping down Camelot memory lane. Especially those who supported Hillary Clinton in her presidential run (and that was the vast majority of New York Democrats), those who feel they’ve politely worked hard and waited their turn (that would be another family name, Cuomo, as in NY State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo) and those who involuntarily roll their eyes upon hearing the name Kennedy.

The United States of America doesn’t have a monarchy, but that doesn’t stop Americans to choosing to worship the political dynasties of their liking. The Republicans love the Bushes. Democrats still overwhelmingly love the Kennedys.

But the Kennedys are shrouded in desire and mystique because of when they came to political prominence and the life altering events that surrounded them. You can’t get a much bigger backdrop than the 1960s, defined by war, civil unrest, injustice, violence, youth movements/youth culture and ideological warfare. If you couldn’t make a name for yourself that decade it simply couldn’t be done. But two assassinations shared by one political family was enough to wrap the Kennedy name up in romance. And so the name came to embody a certain American mythology. While the story is rooted in truth, the Kennedys are just people, extremely rich and influential people, but if all the boys and their alcohol/drug/women troubles have taught us anything, they are flawed.

A last name doesn’t guarantee greatness.

But I suppose my larger point is — why? Why does Caroline Kennedy want this job? Is this about the people, the party or the family name? Or is it all three? Are their individuals more qualified? Actress/activist Fran Drescher, quite strangely, wants the job. A reader floated Harold Ford Jr.’s name to me as a possible appointee for Clinton’s seat. He was a supporter of her and has become more of a New Yorker, leaving his native Tennessee and his father’s sphere of influence. (Yet another case for nepotism, but in New York the Ford name has less tread.)

Rev. Al Sharpton as endorsed Kennedy, yet a New York Democrat has compared Kennedy to “J. Lo,” in the regard that they both have name recognition. How does this affect New York Governor David Paterson, who has to make this choice? Kennedy could definitely pull the money needed to hold the seat in 2010. And she has the name recognition. After all, Paterson would also be up for election in 2010 and it wouldn’t hurt to have some attention grabber on the ticket, but … what is this?

I was hoping Kennedy wouldn’t want the job because you can’t talk about Caroline Kennedy as a politician without talking about her family, specifically the mix of martyrs, tragedies and fuck ups that make up the Kennedy political graveyard. And Kennedy has no other political history to discuss other than the family history, turning us all into vulture voyers yet again. And people complain about “affirmative action” when it involves us at the bottom of the class warfare food chain, but isn’t the potential Kennedy appointment the more classic case of “affirmative action?” As in, her last name is Kennedy therefore everyone acted affirmatively in her appointment?

I’m not saying Kennedy’s not qualified. Qualifications for all elected offices are bare bones to make it easier for anyone to run. She’s highly intelligent and politically astute and is easily the most likeable Kennedy, but 90 percent of her likeability is based in the fact that she is an activist who raises money for charities. She’s seems nice and is non-controversial. But it’s hard to get excited about this unless you like reruns. This isn’t a “Great Gastby” scenario of the self-made politico, like Barack Obama or Bill Clinton, who had no name, money or status to trade for power. This is romance based on an old, doomed relationship in hopes it will be like the love before.

Will this be love redux or is Gov. Paterson about to potentially pass over better contenders to please those who can’t get over our lack of monarchy? Is there someone else who would be better for the job? The answer is probably yes, but I’m almost positive that if Kennedy wants the seat it is truly hers to be had.

The name is still in demand.

17 thoughts on “Kennedy Wants Clinton’s Senate Seat, But Some Cry Foul. Is All Fair In Politicis and Kennedys?

  1. Snob, you ask, “Is this about the people, the party or the family name?”I think all three. Although the first two may be intertwined.Appointing Caroline Kennedy gives PE Obama a confirmed ally. Having not been in politics before, there is less deal making needed in garnering her support as he trys to implement his plans. This helps the people and the party.The family name agenda cant be overlooked. This country may have been founded on doing away with “royalty”; however, the Kennedys have been very instrumental in the progress this country has made. If there is one dynasty that I have no problem with, it is this one.I’m not a New Yorker, but I would be pleased if she were appointed.

  2. As a New Yorker I will support Ms. Kennedy if she is appointed to the seat.What get me are these crazy PUMA types, elected officials, and other on a mission to tear Caroline down.People act as if Clinton were a New York born, all about the people Senator and she isn’t.She chose to make New York her base for her senate seat, with sights of course set on the next prize, the White House.Clinton promised New Yorkers thousands of jobs, health care etc on her infamous “listening tour” of all the counties in New York State. She has been an ineffective carpetbagger in my opinion.The only hesitation that I have in Gov. Paterson appointing Caroline to the seat, is that Attorney General Andrew Cuomo wants the senate seat too now and if he doesn’t get it, Cuomo WILL run a primary against Gov. Paterson for the Governor’s seat; the prize he really wants.Cuomo is the same man that talked about Obama shucking and jiving, ran a primary against H. Carl McCall, a few years ago in his unsuccessful run for governor, and in my opinion has very little use for black people unless you are about advancing his agenda.So yes I will support Ms. Kennedy, but wonder at what expense to the residents of the state of New York….

  3. Appointing Caroline Kennedy to the Senate is basically the same as admitting GWBush to Yale or Al Gore to Harvard – it’s the legacy. While she may be just as qualified as anyone else, she benefits from “affirmative action”, for connected white folks. She doesn’t have to “earn” it.

  4. I’m conflicted. I mean, I don’t doubt that Caroline Kennedy is smart talented and capable. But it does rub me wrong that she doesn’t have to work her way up the political ladder like other folks. I hate to think that she is doing this because her dear Uncle Ted is going to be stepping down, or stepping back. I’ll choose to believe that Obama inspired her so much she wanted to join the political fray.”but 90 percent of her likeability is based in the fact that she is an activist who raises money for charities. She’s seems nice and is non-controversial.”I think this is one of her greatest strengths. I mean, I would love to vote for someone who had truly dedicated their life to public service. So I’m torn. But if the choice is her or Cuomo – is there really a choice? (we’ll assume that Fran Drescher is not an actual choice)

  5. Hello there!I think that there are many people speculating about WHY Caroline Kennedy has decided to step into the role of Senator.It’s a no brainer. This country is going to hell in a hand basket and everyone who is ABLE to wield influence on a broad level in a way that will produce positive change for this country better step off of the yacht and out of obscurity NOW.I think Caroline now realizes that this nation needs more of her leadership on the front lines.Her mother always said in interviews that Caroline was the child that she felt would be the best-suited for public life.Caroline got married and devoted her life to her children while maintaining a STRONG presence in the political arena supporting progressive-thinking candidates WITHOUT having her name in every issue and cause that she has been advancing from the sidelines.Obama did not bring her out front simply because her last name was Kennedy. He knew that she had a very seasoned understanding of the political machine in his country because her own family has helped to shape that political machine.People claim that sitting on boards is not “REAL” experience. They have never served on a board with a significant role because boards members hire and fire organization and corporate officials and shape policy and guide organizations to market leadership. Board members are responsible for evaluating the implementaion of initiatives and for evaluating the effectiveness of leadership practices.Caroline has had this responsibility for decades. I don’t feel we should take it lightly.Caroline is unimpressed by wealth and power and is the least likely to be “bought” by Washington special interest groups. Caroline also understands consensus building. She will be a unifier and I believe that is vitally necessary.Peace, blessings and DUNAMIS!Lisa

  6. I have no strong feelings about Caroline Kennedy one way or the other, but I do think it’s funny that so many of the people who so vehemently supported Sen. Clinton in the primary are suddenly up in arms about someone running for office on her family name. As Amy Poehler-as-Clinton said in that SNL sketch, “I think it’s funny people suddenly care about this.”

  7. She’s been in public service- quietly – for nearly her entire adult life. She’s as qualified as Hillpatine when SHE ran.Plus, she’s not a carpetbagger. I have no qualms with this.Plus, if she gets the seat, then that means there’s no backup plan for Hillpatine. Her ass will have to follow orders and do her damn job as SOS or worry about being FIRED. I love that. The Honorable Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg – Senator of New York. has a nice ring to it.

  8. As a native New Yorker who used to work in politics Caroline is more qualified than HRC was to be Senator from the State of New York.I would not appoint Cuomo. The only reason Gov. Patterson would is so Cuomo won’t run against him.Any HRC supporters talking smack about Caroline need to get a damn grip. At least Caroline IS a New Yorker has done a lot to help the City and the State. As opposed to Hillary Clinton who moved to New york to run. Please.

  9. p.p.s This was her father’s seat and it would be deep if Cuomo who had a very ugly split from Caroline’s cousin (and is now dating that annoying semi-homemade woman from the Food Network) were to be appointed. I’m sure Andrew never saw this situation going down back in the day.

  10. I agree with metricpenny. But at the same time I cant help but feel giddy and happy that this particular branch of the Kennedys want in on politics. There was always something about CK and JKj that I liked and respected.Oh well.

  11. nyc/caribbean ragazza: I could be wrong (and I’m too lazy to Google) but isn’t the NY senate seat her uncle Bobby’s old seat? I thought Edward Kennedy was sitting in JFK’s old seat in Massachusetts?

  12. Snob – you’re right about the Senate seating.RFK moved to NY for Senate seat.Teddy got the seat vacated by JFK.I honestly believe the Clintons have issues as evidence by all *ish that went down this year – their reaction to this story is no surprise.

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