Tuesday, December 16, 2008

And the new senator from New York is ...

There seems to be excitement in the air that one of America’s princesses, a political family’s princess, that is, has decided at the age of 51 to go into the family business. Of course when you’re a princess, only the best will do. And if you’ve got your eye on a Senate seat, why not as a Senator from one of the more populous states? In fact, why bother with elections when you can be appointed?

Caroline Kennedy, born of a privileged family, seems to be a very nice woman who’s managed to reach middle age without having any substantial career outside the family except for some writing and lots of charity work. And, yes, even her stint with the public schools was more of that fundraising and charitable work. She’s really good at raising money. Now, as to substance. It’s true that she went to Radcliffe and Columbia Law, but that’s not a great achievement for someone with her money and family connections. I’d be more impressed with that were she from Anywhere USA with no money or pedigree.

Interestingly, she neither distinguished herself academically nor took on noteworthy work after graduation. Rather she wrote two legal books with a law school friend, who most likely did the writing and was happy to share authorship with a name that would sell. Fair contribution, but not a true achievement. But more to the point, does she have what it takes to fight for New York?

Hillary Clinton did indeed work and distinguish herself even before becoming First Lady. As the junior senator from New York, she became known as a very hardworking senator. A highly intelligent overachiever. A role model whose shoes I don’t believe Caroline Kennedy could ever fill. The populous State of New York needs more than a dilettante sitting in the Senate, charming as she may be. We’ve learned that Hillary knows policy and the ins and outs of complicated issues.

Let Caroline, if she’s interested in politics, begin working her way up. At least a little. Maybe she could begin by campaigning publicly rather than privately, and going through an election process. There is no reason to start at the top by getting the spot with an appointment. New York deserves better. Anyway, isn’t this the year we were discouraging women who didn’t have real qualifications?

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