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