Democrats, too, have questioned whether Kennedy has the necessary experience and fire in the belly. On the other hand, how hard is it, really, to be a senator? Not very, though it is hard to be a great one. How effective one is often depends on skills and qualities not always measurable by resume.
Temperament and intelligence are the new tropes of which we seem most fond these days. Political Prozac is what we're after.
Kennedy offers all of the above. A gentle spirit who conveys humility despite her sterling origins, she is an attorney and author who until now has shunned publicity. She is an accomplished philanthropist. To her credit, she has raised three children out of the spotlight. No babies as props for this child of tragedy.
Do such things qualify her for the Senate? No. But they do speak to her character and approach to life. And it doesn't hurt that the president-elect has referred to Kennedy as "one of my dearest friends."
There is otherwise a certain logical symmetry to a Sen. Caroline Kennedy, even if her anointment offends everything we claim to value -- merit, struggle, and earned rather than inherited privilege. A Democratic woman replaces a Democratic woman and the Kennedy dynasty continues.
No one should find solace in the now-popular refrain that at least the seat isn't for sale, as in Illinois, where Gov. Rod Blagojevich allegedly tried to auction Barack Obama's U.S. Senate seat. Of course, Clinton's seat is for sale.
Caroline Kennedy, who brings to the table a powerful political name, a family fortune and a friendship with the new president, is merely the highest bidder in a silent auction.
It may be a classier act, but it's still the same play.