Obscurity Knocks

Earnest, empathetic, industrious, unpretentious, gay Virgo in Milwaukee with a great life, amazing friends, and a wonderful family.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Caroline Kennedy

I'm conflicted about Caroline Kennedy wanting New York Governor David Paterson to appoint her to fill the Untied States Senate seat vacated by Hillary Rodham Clinton. Anyone who knows me knows that I'm a huge fan of the Kennedy family. I wrote my master's thesis on the historical memory of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. With the death of her brother in 1999, Caroline is the sole surviving member of President Kennedy and Jackie's immediate family.

I do think that she has many of the necessary credentials to serve in the Senate: bachelor's degree from Harvard, law degree from Columbia, author of a book about the Bill of Rights, author of a book about the right to privacy, successful fund raiser for the New York Public Schools, President of the Kennedy Library Foundation, member of the Commission on Presidential Debates, and honorary chair of the American Ballet Theatre. Caroline brings the mystique of the Kennedy name and of being the daughter of President Kennedy and Jackie, which means that she would have no trouble raising the money needed to run if Governor Paterson appoints her. The Senate seat she would fill was previously held by her uncle Robert F. Kennedy. Before he was elected President, her father served in the U.S. Senate. She would continue her family's proud legacy in the US Senate. Her uncle Ted is recognized as the "lion" of the United States Senate, and he likely won't live to see 2010 due to his precarious health situation. She took to the campaign trail earlier this year in support of Barack Obama.

On the other hand, Caroline has never held political office, either elected or appointed. In the United States we are not supposed to have political dynasties, but no one ever told that to the Adams, Kennedy, Bush, and Clinton families, plus a host of others. There are a lot of people saying that she hasn't paid her dues, almost the same criticism many leveled against Obama.

While Caroline looks like her father, her personality is much more like her mother's. Jackie was a master at manipulating the media and using the press to her advantage. Caroline learned this media savvy from her mother. She's Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg in her private life, but Caroline Kennedy (emphasis on the Kennedy) in her public life. While the two books I mentioned above didn't try to trade on her Kennedy name, she's made a fortune on her books about her family such as "The Best Loved Poems of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis." In other words, Caroline wants the media involved in her life when it suits her, but wants them as far away as possible when it doesn't. This is a page right out of Jackie's handbook.

Caroline's media interviews to date have not been particularly impressive. She says "you know" and "um" many, many times in each interview. You'd think that someone who has spent her entire life in the public eye would be able to speak more eloquently.

In spite of this, I'm still pulling for Caroline. Her brother was the one expected to go into politics, and had John Junior lived, he likely would have done so. But as the sole surviving member of the Camelot family, now it's up to Caroline. As someone who loves the Kennedys (especially Jackie), I hope that Caroline is successful and that Governor Paterson appoints her to the United States Senate. Good luck and bon chance, Caroline!


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