Friday, December 19, 2008

Who has title to Camelot?

First excerpts from Charles Krauthammer’s column today; then my comments below the star line.

... The problem with Caroline Kennedy's presumption to Hillary Clinton's soon-to-be-vacated Senate seat is not lack of qualification or experience. The Senate houses lots of inexperienced rookies -- wealthy businessmen, sports stars, even the occasional actor.

The problem is Kennedy's sense of entitlement. Given her rather modest achievements, she is trading entirely on pedigree.

[The founders] believed in aristocracy. But their idea was government by natural -- not inherited -- aristocracy, an aristocracy of "virtue and talents," as Jefferson put it.

And yes, of course, we have our own history of dynastic succession: Adamses and Harrisons, and in the last century, Roosevelts, Kennedys and Bushes. Recently, we've even branched out into Argentine-style marital transmission, as in the Doles and the Clintons. …

Ms. Kennedy [is not] alone in her sense of entitlement. Vice President-elect Biden's Senate seat will now be filled by Edward Kaufman, a family retainer whom no one ever heard of before yesterday. And no one will hear from after two years, at which time Kaufman will dutifully retire. He understands his responsibility: Keep the Delaware Senate seat warm for two years until Joe's son returns from Iraq to assume his father's mantle.

This, of course, is the Kennedy way. In 1960, John Kennedy's Senate seat was given to his Harvard roommate, one Ben Smith II (priceless name). He stayed on for two years -- until Teddy reached the constitutional age of 30 required to succeed his brother.

In light of the pending dynastic disposition of the New York and Delaware Senate seats, the Illinois way is almost refreshing. At least Gov. Rod Blagojevich (allegedly) made Barack Obama's seat democratically open to all. Just register the highest bid, eBay style.

Sadly, however, even this auction was not free of aristo-creep. On the evidence of the U.S. attorney's criminal complaint, a full one-third of those under consideration were pedigreed: Candidate No. 2 turns out to be the daughter of the speaker of the Illinois House; Candidate No. 5, the first-born son of the Rev. Jesse Jackson.

Caroline Kennedy, Beau Biden and Jesse Jackson Jr. could some day become great senators. But in a country where advantages of education, upbringing and wealth already make the playing field extraordinarily uneven, we should resist encouraging the one form of advantage the American Republic strove to abolish: title. …

Krauthammer’s entire column’s here.



I couldn’t agree more with what Krauthammer says or with what my wife is saying, “Come to dinner right now.”

I’ll be back later tonight or tomorrow AM.

Quick – she’s left the room for a moment – have you noticed in even a few of the MSM stories about “a return of Camelot” any mention of Judith Exner or those MLK wiretaps that Kennedy court historians keep telling us “J. Edgar Hoover and the F.B.I. made Jack and Bobby use them?”

Me neither.


Anonymous said...

What I find even more telling about Ms Kennedy (I have heard her referred to as Mrs. Kennedy - though in reality it would be Mrs. Schlossberg) is her publicists manipulation of the press. She refuses to take reporters questions instead relies on carefully scripted occasions (like the meeting with Al Sharpton the other day).
She might be a good senator or she might be a poor one. However, her ability to raise money (an AP article noted this as one of her chief qualifications in my local paper this morning in an admiring piece)and the fact that her uncle has been a good senator "who will soon be leaving the Senate stage" are not qualifications to be a Senator. I also find it interesting that she is lauded for her commitment to the NYC public schools and yet her own children attended tony private schools.
One becomes a senator and proves one's mettle by the rough and tumble of rubbing shoulders with the great unwashed as well as being open with the media. From that standpoint, Al Franken (who I believe will wind up "winning" the Minnesota senate race), as much as a clown and nincompoop as he is, is more "deserving" of a seat in the Senate than Ms. Kennedy in that he has made his positions on the issues known and is more than willing to answer media questions.
Ms. Kennedy will be given a pass by those same journalists who are viewing the incoming Obama presidency through the filmy lenses of a Return to Camelot movie. Should Patterson name her to fill Clinton's seat (at least one can say that Mrs. Clinton plunged into the willy-nilly of the political realm with no holds barred), the people of the state of New York will be ill-served - particularly those in the upstate region who have for many years been disregarded in a favor of whatever the denizens of New York City want or need.

Anonymous said...

I find amusing her being identified as a "non practicing lawyer".I don't believe she has ever been a practicing lawyer.I assume she did pass her Bar,but I don't know.There are two dynamics here.One is a political seat is a slot for a person of known views.By this reckoning,CKS and Andrew Cuomo would be identical.They would vote the same,and that's what matters.Another way is to think of a political slot as a dynamic,where the holder legislates,attends hearings,has a viewpoint and even barters favors.
Sam Rayburn remarked to one of the Roosevelt sons,""Don't waste our time here like your brother did."
Can anyone think of a job outside politics where CKS would be qualified?And I will gop on record as saying I don't think she will get the appointment.

Anonymous said...


Let me go on record as stating that there are numerous things outside of politics that I am qualified to do (and have done)in my fifty + years. I have long argued that the value of a liberal arts education is that it provides one with the necessary tools of organization and discipline (if one is a serious scholar) as well as the ability to think and reflect)with which one can then utilize to learn what is necessary to do whatever job one chooses.

Buried on the next to the last page of the National section of today's NY Times is an interesting article. The Times submitted a list of questions that Ms. Kennedy's press secretary answered in writing - not surprising, the answers were standard pot boiler responses - nothing new in terms of Ms. Kennedy's take on any given issue. I wonder where Ms. Campbell Brown of CNN is now - remember her plea to the MCain campaign to "let Palin be Palin" - where is a similar plea to "let Ms. Kennedy speak for herself"?
The citizens of New York deserve a senator who will represent the entire state instead of someone who's ambit is the Hamptons and the city.
Ms. Kennedy did pass the bar (the first time, unlike her brother who repeatedly failed it and was in danger of losing his job as a result) though if memory serves me she has never practiced.
PS My foray into politics ended as president of my eighth grade class!