Maybe I’m about to contradict myself, so be sure to write in with your comments. Earlier this week I laid out the case why Bill Clinton should not replace his wife in the U.S. Senate and why Beau Biden should not replace his dad (Beau has already declined). Both would have been by appointment. On the other hand, I fully expect Jeb Bush to run for a U.S. Senate seat in Florida with a good shot at winning. The difference is appointment vs. election. If you want to run on your famous name, fine; but to expect a free pass because you are famous is another matter.
So let me break my own rule.
There are reports that Caroline Kennedy is, indeed, interested in being named a U.S. Senator from New York to replace Hillary Clinton. If the appointment is offered, she should take it. I think she would do a good job.
Caroline has always been a low-key Kennedy, and I admire that. Some of her cousins have not been so; and their behavior has at times tarnished the family name. From Patrick Kennedy and his odd drug and alcohol escapades to William Kennedy Smith and his arrogance, some of the Kennedys appear to have acted with a sense of entitlement. To be fair, I think it’s tough to be a Kennedy. The expectations and pressures the mere name must bring are monumental. Some of the Bush kids and grandchildren have been beset by the same problems. Fame is bipartisan in bestowing its blessing, or its curse.
The Kennedys have done some great things. Near and dear to my heart is their work with the Special Olympics. So I don’t criticize them lightly.
That brings me to Caroline. Unlike some of her mischievous cousins, she has shunned the limelight and has been almost a recluse. She and her husband did a marvelous job of keeping their own three kids out of the spotlight. But Caroline is one of those behind-the-scenes folks who can get things done. She’s not flashy or a braggart. She knows who’s who in the political and business world; and she’s been a “go to” person who can pick up the phone for certain causes and quietly get things done.
She’s smart, she’s confident, she’s mature and she often strikes me as indebted to her country, not entitled by it. That last-mentioned quality is the one that always impressed me about John McCain, too. Like McCain, Caroline Kennedy is in her family’s third generation of public service. For them to feel they still “owe” rather than “are owed” is commendable.
Another thing that’s appealing about Kennedy is that she won’t be just a caretaker for the Senate seat until the next election can be held. I would expect her to be an activist Senator and a political broker. At a time when Washington needs bipartisanship, she knows how to reach across party lines and deal with competing ideas and interests. Only truly savvy and practical politicians know how to do that. She’s the kind of person who can broker a deal and perhaps reform and pass the No Child Left Behind Act I wrote of Friday that remains on life support on Capitol Hill.
What are her credentials? Consider these items from her biography at Wikipedia.org: “From 2002 to 2004, Kennedy worked as chief executive for the Office of Strategic Partnerships for the New York City Department of Education. During this time, she helped raise more than $65 million for the city’s public schools. She currently serves as the Vice Chair of The Fund for Public Schools, a public-private partnership founded in 2002 to attract private funding for public schools in New York City.”
Caroline Kennedy was also born in New York and spent much of her childhood and adult life as a resident. No one could call her a “carpetbagger!”
Write in with your comments if you think I’m advocating a double standard; but I think if she is offered the Senate seat Caroline Kennedy should accept.
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