I first met Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg at the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston. Returning from a visit to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library, I stopped in the press center and found her talking with New York Times columnist Frank Rich, who introduced us. I told her I had just been to the library and saw her doll collection. We had a brief conversation during which I noticed something missing: pretentiousness.
Like many Americans my age, I first "met" Caroline when she was a child. The image of her in those black-and-white photos holding her father's hand and riding her pony remain indelible.
Now, Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg wants to be a United States senator. After success as a wife and mother with no hint of scandal, the Senate might be a step down for her, but if she wants it, who will deny her? Certainly not David Paterson, the governor of New York, who can only gain by appointing her to Hillary Clinton's soon-to-be vacant seat.
"She's not qualified," some say. Was Hillary Clinton qualified when she ran for the seat? Sen. Clinton had never served in elective office, either. And what "qualifies" one to be a member of Congress? Sweetheart deals on loans? Men like Ted Stevens of Alaska and the 91-year-old Robert Byrd are the twin peaks of pork. Has their behavior "qualified" them to be in the Senate?
In a Dec. 16 New York Times story headlined "Resume Long on Politics, but Short on Public Office," David Halbfinger offers a resume that looks pretty good to me. (She) is "no dilettante," he says, which is in stark contrast to some in Congress who are. Halbfinger then lists a number of private efforts by Kennedy Schlossberg that accomplished worthwhile things with her own time and money. What conservative wouldn't support volunteer work and raising private money, rather than spending more public funds, of which there are none left?
Being a Kennedy, of course, means she is a liberal, but that isn't a disqualification for public office or there wouldn't be so many of them. It's New York, after all, and Gov. Paterson is not about to nominate a conservative.
Even if the governor offers her the seat, state law requires her to run in 2010 to complete Sen. Clinton's term and then again for a full term in 2012. That's a lot of running, which doesn't leave much time for working.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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