Monday, December 08, 2008


I'm not thrilled about this possibility, but, damn, would it be that bad, Jane?

Caroline Kennedy? Thanks But No Thanks

Everyone seems to be salivating because Caroline Kennedy called David Patterson and is apparently interested in the Senate seat being vacated by Hillary Clinton.

Well, no -- gossip-peddlers are salivating. Not the rest of us.

It's a truly terrible idea.

Her leadership could have been really helpful when the rest of us were trying to keep the progressive lights on and getting the stuffing beaten out of us by a very well-financed right wing for the past eight years. But when things were tough, she was nowhere to be found.

OK -- but maybe what you need when you're trying to hold what you've won is not the same kind of force that you need when you're trying to win. This is the nation-building phase, so to speak.

...The woman has never run for office in her life. We have no idea how she'd fare on the campaign trail, or how well she could stand up to the electoral process. She simply picks up the phone and lets it be known that she just might be up for having one of the highest offices in the land handed to her because -- well, because why? Because her uncle once held the seat? Because she's a Kennedy? Because she took part as a child in the public's romantic dreams of Camelot?

Maybe. This is America. A lot of voters, God love 'em, will think she has political qualifications, just on the basis of her name. It's possible that she'll come in with goodwill that can help neutralize political distrust.

Look, I'd prefer someone who's been in the trenches, too. But the holder of this seat will be vulnerable to a serious challenge, possibly from Mike Bloomberg (who'd be a social-liberal centrist center senator, but who'd probably caucus with the Republicans) or from Rudy Giuliani (who could easily mount a comeback in this state). Maybe this makes fund-raising easier. Maybe she plays better upstate than, say, Carolyn Maloney or Nydia Velasquez. I simply don't know. (To be frank, I don't know how Velasquez's rather pronounced accent would play upstate.)

...There's an enormous problem in the Senate right now with entitlement, with the sense that its members owe their allegiance to each other and not to the public. Witness Joe Lieberman's recent confirmation of Homeland Security Chairman, when Democratic Senators circled the wagons and helped him hold on to power...

Hunh? I realize that the source of all evil on the planet is Joe Lieberman ... but I really don't grasp how career Democratic pols' support for a fellow career pol relates in any way to the possible elevation of someone who's never held political office. Anyone? Can you explain this?

And are we forgetting that we're talking about the replacement for a woman who herself had never held elective office before becoming a senator?

I don't consider Caroline Kennedy the best choice. But I understand why she's being considered. Rightly or wrongly, I think the public would regard her as having political credibility (more so than, say, Al Franken -- did Jane Hamsher object this strenuously to his candidacy?). And let's face it, anyone who holds a Democratic Senate seat from New York is going to be declared an Antichrist by the right; the ability to put up with being hated that way is as much a part of the Kennedy family business as being loved.

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