Jasper Smith

Commentary on politics, economics, culture and sports.

Ms. Plausibility or, In Which Jasper Officially Becomes a Caroline Kennedy Suckup

with 2 comments

Anti-Caroline hysteria sentiment in the ‘sphere seems to be intensifying, and I’ll have none of it, dammit!

Okay, seriously, I’m not saying Ms. Kennedy is the best candidate for the job, mind you; but she’s obviously a plausible candidate in a narrow universe of plausible candidates. People continue to talk about her like she’s some kind of grossly underqualified airhead — but that’s seems like wild exaggeration colored by Kennedy bashing. She doesn’t have experience running in and winning elections*, but that’s the only thing she lacks from what I can see**. She’s got money, fame, looks, glamor,*** sterling education credentials (Harvard and Columbia Law), she’s a life long New Yorker, she’s prominent in Democratic party circles (vetted Obama’s VP choices and was a co-chair of his campaign, I think), she possesses a strong relationship with the president-elect, she has a pretty impressive rolodex, she’s a respected constitutional scholar, she writes well, and she’s done substantive, meaningful work in policy analysis, non-profit fundraising and governance, arts advocacy, and education. She’s seems to be a very straight arrow (nice family, etc.), and likely has fewer skeletons in her closet than the various elected public officials who would also be plausible candidates for the appointment. And, as Democrats who actually want to win elections (unlike libertarians who understandably would rather see us lose) realize, Caroline Kennedy is almost certainly likely to prove an unsurpassed fundraiser in 2010 — a year when coaxing money from contributors may not be an easy task. Again, she may not be the optimal candidate from the perspective of background and experience (Spitzer’s downfall makes the scene devoid of an obvious concensus choice), but politically — and this is ultimately how such things get decided — she’s very plausible indeed.

*I frankly think this is a weak argument with respect to this particular candidate. I mean, she freaking grew up in the White House, and her uncles were Bobby and Teddy. I have a feeling she knows how the government works, and how legislation gets enacted. Moreover, while personal legislative experience is obviously a plus, Hillary Clinton has shown lack of it isn’t a deal-breaker. And anyway, what’s wrong with having someone with a different perspective sitting in the great deliberative body? Heaven forbid someone other than, you know, a career briber of voters, be sent to Washington to join Schumer.

**Well, she may lack natural political instincts/communication skills based on her upstate tour. It definitely wasn’t an auspicious start. I personally think it’s too early to tell — and I very much doubt Patterson will write her off based on one or two initial missteps (Hillary wasn’t a natural from the getgo either) but Caroline certainly needs to improve in this area.

***I can almost hear the sneering now, but y’all have to take off your good citizens caps and put on your political consultants caps: you can certainly make the case that Kennedy possesses many of the practical attributes — especially in an era when fundraising is likely to get tougher — especially with a mid-term coming up where Democrats are likely to be facing stiff challenges — of someone who can beat King or Rudy (and help other Democrats — most importantly Patterson himself — in the bargain). Cynical or not, that, my dear friends, will surely be of paramount concern in Patterson’s mind.

Finally, one word about the hand-wringing over political dynasties: our constitution got rid of royalty. It doesn’t say people who grew up with backgrounds in politics and affairs of state can’t or shouldn’t be able to run themselves. It seems to me you’ll have to change human nature to insure that. Bottom line is voters have brains, and in a democracy they’re perfectly free to reject princelings, and often do. Neither Romney nor Hillary Clinton is about to enter the White House. George H.W. Bush couldn’t retain it in 1992. The Republic has always known families prominent in public affairs, and always will. John Quincy Adams’s foray into politics didn’t sink us, and neither will Caroline Kennedy’s.

Written by Jasper

December 23, 2008 at 9:29 pm

Posted in Miscellania

2 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Her education credentials have to be taken with a grain of salt. Being the daughter of a President and a member of a prominent political family, admissions into an elite college are fairly easy.

    Also she is not a constitutional scholar. Her book, which received fairly poor reviews was published in a non-academic journal, with a co-author who did most of the heavy lifting in writing the book.

    Finally NY has elected a republican to the Senate in 16 years. We shouldn’t worry about electibility in a very liberal state. No to Caroline.


    December 27, 2008 at 5:07 pm

  2. Her education credentials have to be taken with a grain of salt. Being the daughter of a President and a member of a prominent political family, admissions into an elite college are fairly easy.

    No doubt her parentage didn’t hurt her admission chances to Harvard (one can say this about ANY offspring of alumni), but do you have any evidence she did poorly? I recall her late brother wasn’t the brightest bulb on the tree (failed the bar multiple times), but I hadn’t heard CK was anything but a conscientious student. And again, you point here keeps bringing up what I regard as a fundamentally illiberal point: judging someone because of the circumstances of her birth. If she screwed up at Harvard and Columbia, fair point, otherwise not.

    Also she is not a constitutional scholar.

    She’s written six books, I think, two of them about constitutional issues. Okay, so she’s no Cass Sunstein. I officially change “constitutional scholar” to “accomplished author.”

    Finally NY has elected a republican to the Senate in 16 years. We shouldn’t worry about electibility in a very liberal state.

    So in other words you do acknowledge CK’s electability.

    The fact is a a GOP win is entirely possible given a sufficiently strong candidate like Peter King or Rudy Giuliani. Remember, 2010 is still likely to be suffering the effects of severe recession, and that’s almost always bad for the party of the incumbent president. Will the Dem be favored? Sure? Guaranteed? Not by a long shot if the economy is still very week.


    December 27, 2008 at 7:36 pm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: