Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Caroline Kennedy Show

So... Caroline Kennedy.

Her "listening campaign" has grown in strength over the last few days, as she sits down with Democratic power brokers in the state. She's spent much of that time reaching out to Dems upstate, since that is where her connections are weakest. Today she met with Al Sharpton, at Sylvia's in Harlem. The cynic in me wonders if that's because Sharpton is actually considered a power broker or if Caroline is greasing up the often squeaky wheel in advance (not a dig at Sylvia's food).

I'm really of two minds on this. I like her. I like where she stands on things, I appreciate the work she's done as an advocate for education in this city, and growing up in Boston, I am genetically predisposed to have a soft-spot for the Kennedys. Her moving op-ed in support of Obama, and active campaigning on his behalf, alongside her Uncle Teddy, was crucial during a brutal primary. With or without the Senate seat, she is clearly cut from the same cloth as her father, uncles and late brother. And that's mostly a good thing. Her history in the city is long, as recounted by Sam Roberts.

All that said, I'm pretty uncomfortable with the idea of anyone stepping into the Senate without having previously held some kind of elected office. Honestly, even some time on the City Council would make a difference in my eyes. I'm all for people stepping up to answer the call to service from outside political office, but I'm very wary of this. I don't particularly like the idea of anyone being appointed into the Senate. I agree with The Nation's John Nichols - the constitutional loophole that allows governors to appoint Senators to vacant seats needs to be done away with.

I suspect I'd be perfectly happy with Senator Caroline Kennedy on a day-to-day basis, but deeply uncomfortable with her as an appointee. It provides a strange aftertaste to the political optimism of the campaign season.

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