Campaigns/Elections

The Lure of Royalty

Is Caroline Kennedy actually qualified for the U.S. Senate?

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If New York Gov. David Paterson wants to appoint a senator distinguished by global star appeal, a long family tradition of public service, royal bloodlines, and obvious availability, it's easy to think of the perfect candidate. Caroline Kennedy? That's setting his sights too low. If I were him, I'd put in a call to the Prince of Wales.

Really, what assets does Jack Kennedy's daughter have that the son of Elizabeth II doesn't? Both owe their prominence entirely to their ancestry. Both are immensely rich thanks to the sacrifices and achievements of people who went before.

Both have often represented their families at the funerals of prominent people. Neither has ever had to stress about finding a job, meeting a payroll, or keeping government functions going during a budget crisis.

And here's the most newsworthy similarity: Both expect to attain a high office without the bother of having to submit themselves to the voters. And both will probably get their way.

Kennedy is a well-spoken, pleasant woman who is indistinguishable from many other rich folks who would never be considered for a seat in the nation's highest elected body. Indistinguishable, that is, except for her name, which in some minds confers magical powers denied to ordinary mortals.

If she had been born Caroline Kelly, no one would indulge her expressed desire to become a United States senator. But because of her pedigree, Paterson appears to think she's doing him a favor instead of the other way around.

Kennedy is the latest example of the rise of "branding" in American politics—in which merely coming from a particular family is taken as a qualification for office. For most of his life, George W. Bush was famous mostly for his meager accomplishments. But because his father was president, he was able to get himself elected governor of Texas and then president as well.

A lot of people assumed he would have some of his father's better traits: a habit of hiring smart people, a measure of humility and the good judgment not to occupy Iraq. Instead, the younger Bush seemed to spend his presidency trying to show how different he was from the old man. Mission accomplished.

That experience should prove that political brands are not comparable to automobile brands. If you buy one model of Toyota rather than another, you can be confident it will live up to the maker's reputation for quality and durability. But just because a family produced a president and a couple of senators, all reasonably well-regarded, doesn't mean other members of the clan will do well.

In the Kennedy case, of course, not everyone would agree that Caroline's Uncle Ted has been a boon to the nation during his years in the Senate—quite the contrary, since he has long been one of the most liberal lawmakers on Capitol Hill. That's without even taking into consideration the minor matter of Mary Jo Kopechne, the young woman he killed in a mysterious car wreck in 1969.

Other Kennedys have fallen short in office. Joe Kennedy, son of Robert, was known as a telegenic lightweight during his time in the House of Representatives. Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.), son of Ted, has made news mostly with his drug use and traffic accidents. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, daughter of Robert, was elected lieutenant governor of Maryland, but in 2002 managed the feat of becoming the first Democrat in more than three decades to lose a governor's race in that state.

So what kind of Kennedy would Caroline be? Beats me. One way to find out would be to let her run for some entry-level office where she could learn the trade and make her quota of beginner mistakes without doing much harm. But she apparently feels no obligation to show she's up to the job before taking the oath.

You could say the same about her predecessor, Hillary Clinton, who had never held elective office before. But Clinton at least gave the citizens of New York the chance to assess her qualifications before ascending. Kennedy sees no need for such tedium.

Under the customs of hereditary monarchy, her appointment would make perfect sense. But if New York prefers that method, it might as well go with the real thing. Last I checked, Prince Charles didn't have any better offers.

COPYRIGHT 2008 CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.

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  1. yo, fuck hereditary monarchies!

  2. If she ran she’d most likely win, which makes the inevitable appointment even more infuriating. She just can’t be bothered to run.

  3. Oh, I should think it would be fun to be a Senator! Jeeves, run out and get me a Senatorship, would you?

  4. I’m a Brit.
    What’s this about ‘appointing’ a senator?
    I thought they had to be elected.

  5. Robert Hale,

    When a senate seat is vacated – for whatever reasons – (in this case, Senator Hillary Clinton being nominated for Secretary of State) some states nominate a person to fill the vacant seat until the next election. Some states hold special elections.

  6. Personally, I think the kennedy’s are overrated!

    Jess
    http://www.privacy.es.tc

  7. I am tired of Kennedy’s. When will they go away?

  8. I wonder how she’d fare if her name were Adolf Hitler Kennedy?

    My guess is that she’d still get the senate seat, but would have a bitch of a time getting her birthday cakes decorated.

  9. “sage | December 18, 2008, 7:55am | #
    Oh, I should think it would be fun to be a Senator! Jeeves, run out and get me a Senatorship, would you?”

    You’re fucking kidding. That’s a fucking gold mine. All you give me is a fucking please? Fuck them.

    *rips toy away from leukemia patient*

  10. I get tired of the charade of representative government in this country. You can’t have true representative government when the incumbent re-election rate is in the high nineties. People love aristocrats might as well get use to it.

  11. …immensely rich thanks to the sacrifices and achievements of people who went before [her].

    Not to mention their bootlegging, bribery, thuggery and buggery.

  12. Is she qualified? Only as much as any other member of her family, which is to say not the least bit.

    Why not appoint Junior Gotti? At least with him, there wouldn’t be any pretense.

    -jcr

  13. At least she isn’t retarded. That’s a Kennedy tradition she seems to have broken.

  14. P Brooks | December 17, 2008, 5:25pm | #
    The single most important demonstrable “qualification” displayed by the Senators who win their seats in open elections is an ability to win elections.

    What does that tell us?

    Maybe the State of New York should auction the seat. They need the dough.

  15. Not to mention their bootlegging, bribery, thuggery and buggery.

    Hey, now, I don’t necessarily blame her for buggery, she’s equipped to be a catcher, not a pitcher. At least that’s by outward appearances, come to think of it. Actually, uh, never mind, carry on.

  16. Let’s make a fair deal — the aristocracy can have their inherited stations if we peasants can bring back the delightful practice of periodically beheading them.

  17. I

  18. Fail, apparently. I love Abdul’s jokes!

  19. Not no but HELL FUCKING NO. NO more Kennedy, Bush or Clinton family members.. GO AWAY!! Contrary to the popular belief that the Kennedy family has magical power they do not. You would think a family that has the public execute so many of their relatives might get the fucking hint no one wants them in government. Go back to your silver spoon and let someone REAL take office. Now that would be CHANGE.

    Kennedy, the name alone makes me nauseated.

  20. Hey Dee, I sometimes wonder if there is some magic there. I mean how many people do you know that got drunk, drove a car off a bridge, killing your passenger, not reporting the incident until the body is found, and is still a sitting Senator almost 40 years later? Abra-Cadabra, bitches!

  21. I am tired of Kennedy’s. When will they go away?

    You know, two get gunned down, John John crashes his fucking plane, one finally gets put away for murder, one gets lobotomized, one died at birth, and one died of overdose.

    But they breed like rats, and some are even able to leave people to drown and still be successful. What can you do?

  22. how many people do you know that got drunk, drove a car off a bridge, killing your passenger, not reporting the incident until the body is found, and is still a sitting Senator almost 40 years later?

    It was just a prank. It’s not like he beat her to death with a golf club.

  23. Senator Clinton’s replacement will not be acceptable to the libertarian community no matter whom it is. So maybe better a perceived light-weight like Caroline, whose name will be attached legislation as co-sponsor to impress the rubes than some seasoned statist up through the ranks who will compete with Shumer and other heavyweights to “make a difference.”

  24. Look on the bright side. In all probability Elton John will get to sing that “Candle in the Wind” song again.

  25. Last night on MacNeil-Lehrer they had a discussion between a woman who writes for the WaPo who is for Caroline getting the seat and a guy from the Albany Times-Union who is against. The Albany guy was pointing out that she’s never dwelt in upstate New York, knows next to nothing about it, has no political experience above the school board level, and doesn’t appear any more qualified than a random 30+ year old that you pull off the street in Utica. Plus the fact that her attitude seems to be that the seat is hers if she wants it doesn’t ingratiate her with the populace.

    The pro-Caroline argument was basically that it made a nice story, with her getting the seat that Bobby used to have. That was about it.

  26. One hasn’t learned the intricacies of gravity, skis down hill into trees with his Buddy, Sonny (and wrong Bono).

  27. creech, that’s a good point, but keep in mind that lightweights in positions of power don’t believe in nothing…they believe in whatever their advisors tell them. (*ahem* Bush *ahem*) And I would imagine that Caroline’s advisors are more likely to be of the Schumer mold than the Jeff Flake mold.

  28. I should note that from my POV, you can’t get much worse than Hillary for that senate seat. She was fast becoming a moral-scold-cum-socialist of Liebermannic proportions. Heck, Schumer is a raging socialist, but at least he doesn’t push legislation to ban violent video games and such.

  29. Look on the bright side. In all probability Elton John will get to sing that “Candle in the Wind” song again.

    I’d rather hear the Misfits doing Bullet.

  30. What is the likelihood Princess Caroline is in favor of school choice (for her subjects, that is)?

  31. I hear Caroline has a half-sister locked up in a tower somewhere.

  32. Hands, touchin hands
    Reachin out
    Touchin me
    Touchin you

    Sweet Caroline
    Good times never seemed so good
    Ive been inclined
    To believe they never would

    You can throw up now.

  33. Speaking of the Kennedys, I remember being in high school physics, and we were watching that film about high-speed cameras, and it had that classic shot of the bullet going through an apple in slow motion. My friend then mumbles something. Since his mumbles were usually hilarious, I ask him to repeat it louder, and he says “just like JFK”. I couldn’t stop laughing.

  34. Okay, I admit that it has been awhile since I read the qualifications to be a U.S. Senator. Still, I think Caroline Kennedy is a better choice than Prince Charles, being as he isn’t a U.S. citizen.

  35. What qualifications does anyone need to be a Senator from New York (or anywhere for that matter)? You need qualifications for the simple job of wasting taxpayers money on worthless boondoggles?

    Of course, maybe they mean that more qualified people waste money in vaster quantities on more worthless things.

  36. Hands, touchin hands
    Reachin out
    Touchin me
    Touchin you

    Sweet Caroline
    Good times never seemed so good
    Ive been inclined
    To believe they never would

    You can throw up now.

    “A lot of people don’t know this, but I am fueled creatively by my intense hatred of immigrants. Ain’t that right, Charles?”

    – Ah, leave me out of this one, man.

    “No, I will leave you IN! I’ll smack you in the mouth, I’m Neal Diamond!!”

  37. Is Mr. Smith available? I think it was great when he went to Washington.

  38. She’s barely less qualified than Hillary, and a good deal more likeable. not that thats a qualification, but its nice to have someone you like screw you over as opposed to someone who makes you want to vomit.

    She’d probably be totally and completely useless as a senator – which is to say, one of the best ones we could possibly have.

  39. You neglected one point: love him or hate him, at least George W. Bush was elected (more than once), not appointed.

  40. domo, Hillary at least went through a long, rough and tumble of a campaign in 2000 to get elected. Caroline seems to think she can just make a couple of VIP appearances in Syracuse and get the job.

    And as above I do not agree that having a lightweight in a position of power is a guarantee that that power won’t be used. I’d prefer a stubborn hardcore statist who is jealous of his or her power rather than a lightweight who’ll be led around by the nose by people with more sinister intentions.

  41. No one ever loved W., they loved and too many continue to love the Republican Party. They think it stands for something other than warmongering and waste. And they think that by pointing this out I am endorsing the Democratic Party.

    Caroline is qualified because people have heard of her. That’s about it. And it says alot about how screwed our Republic is these days

  42. If I had to pick a Kennedy to serve in the Senate, it would most definitely be Tom. (Granted, he’s actually a Narz, and not a “real” Kennedy.)

  43. Is Mr. Smith available? I think it was great when he went to Washington.

    I honestly think that one of the now 4 vacancies should be filled by some relatively nobody who’s never held elective office at all. (IL would be my pick to do this). Yes, it’s cheap empty symbolism, but you need that every so often.

  44. Alternatively, realty show (e.g. ‘Who Wants to be the Junior US Senator from Colorado’?)

  45. Hate to be a conspiracy theorist, but this started a few years ago when she dumped Schlossberg. Who the hell would elect a Senator Schlossberg? That’s right, no one. But a Kennedy? It’s the difference between Hebrew National and Ball Park.

  46. reality show of course. Realty shows are a good part of why we find ourselves in the current mess. (but mortgage rates *are* back to a 37 year low.)

  47. She’s barely less qualified than Hillary

    Wow, talk about damning with faint praise…

    -jcr

  48. At least Hillary had a full time job sometime in her life.

    No one wants a Caroline Kennedy appointment more than Peter King. If Kennedy becomes the Senator, King will mop the floor with her in 2010. Cuomo would be able to hold onto the seat.

  49. Don’t forget William Kennedy Smith!

  50. Oh, puh-lease…..

    ANYBODY is qualified to work in the legislature.

  51. ANYBODY is qualified to work in the legislature.

    You call that work?

  52. Of course, once the libs get Kennedy in the Senate, they’ll go back to explaining how the govt should make our decisions for us because they are the “experts”, totally ignoring her lack of expertise in anything.

  53. Anybody can vote yes or no and speak pablums from the podium, yes. But if that’s all you do, you’re going to be about as effective as Ron Paul (zing!)

    However, being an effective legislator and getting things done in Congress requires a lot of skill.

  54. We are rapidly approaching having not one, not two, but three Kennedys in the Senate:

    Patrick Kennedy is poised to take over a Rhode Island Senate seat, maybe in 2010 if current incumbent Jack Reed takes over as defense secretary. Joe Kennedy, of course, will replace Ted, unless Ted’s wife Vicki places her dynastic claim first.

    And, of course, Joe Biden is maneuvering to guarantee his seat for his son. There’s a couple more dynastic successions out there that I’m blanking on.

    Somehow, a House of Lords wasn’t the Change I was Hoping for.

  55. Anybody can vote yes or no and speak pablums from the podium, yes.

    Mix in a healthy dose of voting “present”, and you can ride that to the White House!

  56. Just to be clear, the first post isn’t really mine, though the sentiment certainly is.

  57. At least Hillary had a full time job sometime in her life.

    I presume you are referring to the picture of her that was on display at the Rose Law Firm.

  58. And here everyone said Caligula was crazy when he appointed his horse to the Roman Senate…

  59. Ed Koch says she is qualified, look at her DNA. A grandfather who was a bootlegger and who supported Hitler to the point where FDR had to recall him from his ambassadorship, a father who was a philander, a mother who was a golddigger, and uncle who kept his wife barefoot and pregnant, and one involved in a suspicious death. Some DNA, EH?

  60. They keep bringing Andrew Coumos name up and something about him being thrown under the bus by the NY dems. The thing is Andrew was married to Teddy Ks daughter Cara. Had an ugky situation with Teddy about cheating with another woman while being married to Cara K. Thats a hell of a hoot! Anyway more soap opera than if Joan Collins came on the scene. All I want is my money back!

  61. Reminds me how many people at the time observed that Washington’s lack of a male heir was one of the positives about having him as the first President.

  62. Apparently Mrs. Schlossburg can’t even be bothered to vote.

  63. I saw her mini news conference yesterday, and if her performance was any indication of her talents as a politician, she’d be meat on a plate if she actually had to run for office. She’s the newbiest of newbies. An appointment is the only way she could ever reach the Senate.

  64. Reading over these posts……..WOW you all are some cold hearted mother-fuckers LMAO this here is some funny shit!

  65. Is Caroline Kennedy qualified? She has attained the Age of thirty Years, has been more than nine Years a Citizen of the United States, and is an Inhabitant of that State for which she shall be chosen, so yeah, of course she is.

  66. “It’s not like he beat her to death with a golf club.”

    No, but beating her to death with a water hazard seems to have been close enough.

  67. “And here everyone said Caligula was crazy when he appointed his horse to the Roman Senate…”

    At least they got the whole horse, instead of 100 of just one end!

  68. It’s been argued that hereditary monarchies actually produce better leaders than elective democracies.

    In a democracy, only power-mad con men (and women) seek and win elective office. In a monarchy, some of those in line for the throne are tyrants or incompetent, but others are wise or forbearing.

    In a democracy, leaders don’t have to worry about the long-term effects of their policies — they can loot the treasury for the benefit of their cronies. In a monarchy, the king has to deal with the consequences for a long time.

  69. Mister DNA

    Thanks

  70. “Let’s make a fair deal — the aristocracy can have their inherited stations if we peasants can bring back the delightful practice of periodically beheading them.”

    And now Homeland Security is following this thread.

  71. Hey Sage, that’s not the magic. The magic was surviving the crash in the first place which is worthy of Houdini. It’s almost like he was never in the car in the first place…

  72. “And here everyone said Caligula was crazy when he appointed his horse to the Roman Senate…”

    I’m getting pretty sick of people knocking Incitatus,, he never took a bribe, slept with another Senator’s wife (indeed he may not have been unfaithful at all to his lovely wife, Penelope), and when he was dismissed it was because Claudius said it was solely because he no longer satisfied the financial qualifications. In other words he didn’t take ENOUGH bribes. Plus when he ran there was less horseshit than usual.

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