Tina K. Russell

December 20, 2008

You’re no Jack Kennedy Lite

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — Tina Russell @ 10:15 pm

Letters – The Famous Name and the Senate Seat – NYTimes.com

My honest opinion of Caroline Kennedy is, well… I’m angry. Whenever I read about why she’s qualified to be a Senator, it’s that she has connections and a valuable fund-raising machine. Whether or not that kind of politics is necessary—and I do not think it is to this absurd extent, anyway—I wish I could at least more often read an acknowledgment that it is bad, and emblematic of everything wrong with politics.

You can think that someone is good, a hard worker, a smart person with an unlikely and inspiring story, and still not be comfortable with this person being appointed to the most powerful legislative body in the nation. Barack Obama was short on a political résumé, so he campaigned for two years to prove he was ready for the job, that he had the intelligence, the firsthand knowledge, and the experience required. Double that for Al Franken. Both, in my opinion, succeeded. We have no reason, no vantage point, to think that this woman is similar, nothing that sets her apart as a prodigy, no harsh public vetting process of a campaign, no case that she even has to make to the public. My impression, from the articles I’ve read about her, is that she is exquisitely qualified to warm a seat. I like that she sits on boards of charities, and her time on the board of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund particularly appeals to me. I’m not sure what that brings to the Senate, though; I mean, I do want my legislators grounded in real-world issues, but it’s just part of the package. I didn’t vote for Barack Obama just because of his three years as a Chicago community organizer, certainly. It helps, but it’s not everything.

All that could be assuaged if she ever had to make a case to the public, ever had to defend her non-record, ever had to demonstrate why she’s ready for this office. Just look at these sniveling excuses in the letters page linked above. I’m waiting to hear that it would hurt her feelings not to get the appointment. Your deep sympathy for someone does not make them qualified. Absent any new information, I’m inclined to say that the caricature is right: this is old-school nepotism at its worst, and exactly what makes people so cynical about politics.


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