Caroline On My Mind

By Ross Douthat

While Noam Scheiber does yeoman's work on the subject, Michelle Cottle questions the anti-Caroline backlash:

Of course America does political dynasties: Bayh, Biden, Bush, Clinton, Cuomo, Daley, Dole...If you've got an hour to kill, check out Wikipedia's massive entry on U.S. political families, alphabetically subdivided.

Sure she'd be skipping a few rungs on the electoral ladder. So did New Jersey's Jon Corzine. So did Virginia's Jim Webb. So did Hillary Clinton, for that matter. And, God help us, there's still an outside chance that Al Franken could pull this thing off in Minnesota. As for her simply being handed this particular seat: Until we do away with the ridiculous gubernatorial-appointment system (a worthy cause Blago may have helped along), anyone who gets this seat will have it handed to him/her.

Let's face it, all rich, well-connected, powerful people kinda think they're entitled to whatever they want. Michael Bloomberg wanted to be Mayor of New York. Jon Corzine wanted to be a Senator--then governor.  Perennial failure George W. Bush wanted to be governor, then President. Arnold and Jesse wanted to be governors. Life is just more fun and opportunity-filled when you're rich and famous. Deal with it.  

Well, look, obviously worse things have happened to American politics than the appointment of Caroline Kennedy to a U.S. Senate seat. But what's at issue here isn't so much dynastic politics, the gubernatorial-appointment system, or the particular entitlement of the rich and well-connected as the intersection of all three: Taken alone, these phenomena are tolerable; taken together, they're noxious enough to deserve at least some pushback. Yet instead,
Kennedy's bizarre pseudo-campaign for the New York Senate (conducted amid a major scandal involving another Senate appointment!) has received all sorts of fawning press coverage from a media that still seems starstruck by her father forty-five years after his death.

Again, I can live with legacy politicians, underqualified appointees, and entitled rich people. I just think the Senate can do without an rich, underqualified legacy appointee whose press coverage would lead you to believe that she's a cross between Florence Nightingale, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Princess Diana and Princess Leia.
But it looks like that's what we're going to get.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/personal/archive/2008/12/caroline-on-my-mind/55873/