More on Caroline

Posted: Jan 21, 2009 10:07 PM
As Amanda notes below, there are conflicting accounts about why Caroline Kennedy has withdrawn her bid to become the next US Senator from New York.

My instinct is that the NY Post story is closer to the truth than the one in The New York Times (big surprise, right?).  Here's why: However fragile Teddy Kennedy's health, he is part of a family who values holding political office over almost everything else.  It's impossible for me to believe that it would have been anything but a morale boost and (from Teddy's perspective) a blessing to know that (1) a Kennedy will remain in the Senate, as there has been since 1952, when Caroline's father was first elected and that (2) she would be occupying the seat once held by his brother, RFK.

In fact, the critiques of Caroline's performance -- and the overweening fact that her candidacy lacked a clear rationale -- are actually pretty valid.  It's one thing if people want to elect someone whose primary distinction is her heritage to elected office, or if voters choose someone who could be considered weak on the "experience" side.  That's what democracy is about, and it's voters' right.

It's quite another if someone with those attributes simply manages to secure a Senate seat by appointment.  In my view, it's repugnant to the idea that all of us, as Americans, cherish: That we are a country where merit and performance counts more than bloodlines.

All that being said, Caroline Kennedy seems like a nice person who genuinely believes in public service, and I wish her well.