Sunday, January 04, 2009

NYT writer rationalizes for Caroline Kennedy

In today’s NYT Magazine Lisa Belkin engages in a series of rationalizations to convince us Caroline Kennedy is ready to be New York’s next U. S. Senator. Among other things Belkin says:

Caroline Kennedy is opting in, and as a result, she faces a magnified version of the eyebrows raised whenever women try to return (or, in her far more unusual case, to first enter) the paid work force full time.

Take away the part about her father the president and her uncles the senators, ignore for the moment her Park Avenue address, peel away the talk of the dangers of dynasty and the power of privilege, don’t even touch the question of whether anyone would be picking apart her credentials if it were a male Kennedy who was under consideration — and what is at the core of all this shouting is what, nowadays, counts as experience.

Belkin’s entire column’s here.


My Comments:

For Belkin to tell readers what Caroline Kennedy is doing is “return[ing]” or seeking to enter “the paid work force full time” is like telling readers a guy who used to play on the office baseball team and now wants to be named Opening Day pitcher for the Yankees is “merely seeking to get back in baseball.”

Kennedy’s not asking to be hired as a law school lecturer or an attorney for the NYT Corporation. She wants to be made a U. S. Senator, one of only two from a state with 20 million people.

If, as Belkin mentions, we take away “the part about her father the president and her uncles the senators,” Kennedy wouldn't be seriously considered as a possible U. S. Senator.

We'd have something like the following:

Staff aide: “Governor Paterson, this resume’s from a woman named Caroline Schlossberg. She’s a law school grad but she’s never practiced. Wealthy. Sent her kids to private schools, but she’s raised lots of money for public schools. Written some books. None of any outstanding law, history or political distinction. Says she’s very interested in politics but she’s often failed to vote.”

Gov. Paterson: “What about the next resume?”

Belkin mustn’t know much about NY politics because she plays the gender card this way: “don’t even touch the question of whether anyone would be picking apart her credentials if it were a male Kennedy.”

But of course some would.

That’s why Caroline’s controversial cousin, the environmentalist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. who’s fighting the green Cape Wind Project that would be built within sight of property he owns, withdrew his name from consideration for the Senate appointment despite being very politically ambitious.

Robert's possible appointment would surely have drawn more fire than Caroline's.

There's something else to keep in mind in terms of criticism of Caroline. I don't think her backers had any idea how poorly she'd perform once she announced she was interested in being appointed.

Her obvious lack of knowledge of issues and her failure to speak out on matters of current public importance are what've drawn so much criticism.

It's not been - you know - because of her gender.

Hat tip to cks who has an excellent response to Belkin on the thread of Write off Caroline's chances? I vote "No"


Anonymous said...

JinC - Pattterson would probably ask one other question of his aide before relegating Mrs. Schlossberg's resume to the round file - How much has she contributed to the Democratic Party in New York? Since the answer was less than a thousand dollars, the thunk as her resume hit the sides of the wastebasket would be deafening!

Anonymous said...

There is a posting on the site about Caroline Kennedy and the Senate seat (I think the article's title has something to do with re-igniting the mommy wars). The thrust of the report is that she is symbolic of working mothers who leave the work force to raise their families and while at home do many valuable things that should not disqualify them when re-entering the work force. I posted a comment to the effect that Caroline Kennedy is not trying to re enter the work force since she never was in it to begin with so she can't be a poster child for that group. It irritates me no end that she is praised as someone who raised her children (an example to women) when the raising was done with loads of help.
Frankly I think there are a large number of people who think that because she lost her father tragically, she had a mother who was seen as a fashion icon, and a brother who died tragically (though as a result of his own foolishness) that she somehow deserves a governmental post.