Thursday, January 22, 2009

It wasn’t the “umm” that killed Caroline Kennedy’s Senate candidacy. It was the lack of, umm, anything else.

If you read The New York Crank with any regularity, you know that I’ve supported Caroline Kennedy’s now-abandoned candidacy for Senator against the right-wing blogomaniacs who trashed the truth in order to trash Caroline.

They declared she lived in a townhouse (an outright albeit petty lie) to make her seem somehow over-privileged and unworthy of the job.

Alas, what really finished Caroline’s candidacy wasn’t the non-existent townhouse. Nor was it her seeming inability to finish an English sentence without saying “umm” at least once, and often two or three or more times — even though this conversational tic opened her to ridicule. Here’s an example.

Nope. I kept quiet about what it really was. But inside, I despaired.

What killed the Kennedy Senate candidacy was her complete lack of any stated vision, or any apparent willingness to disclose the kind of information about her finances that every public politician must reveal.

A family “tradition of public service” is not enough reason to demand anybody’s vote, most especially not in these particularly perilous economic times. Not to mention that these are also deeply troubled diplomatic times. Not also to mention that the Bush family has given political dynasties a bad name.

Who let that poor woman declare her candidacy without coaching her in the most basic elements of political discourse and rules of the game?
The truth is, Caroline Kennedy was doing a Sarah Palin, but with a New York accent. She refused to disclose. She limited her press accessibility. She wasn't prepared for interviews.

I don’t know what she thought she was up to, but the end result was to shoot herself in the foot. Ultimately, as Gertrude Stein said, there was no there there.

I like Caroline Kennedy as a person, but I’m glad she resigned. She simply wasn’t ready for prime time. At least not yet.

1 comment:

Steve M. said...

I agree. I compare her to Obama, and the comparison isn't good: right-wingers have a point when they talk about his short resume, but the minute he opens his mouth and talks about an issue, any issue, you know he's studied it in depth and formulated a serious, detailed policy position. Hillary Clinton did the same thing in 2000 -- even on issues like dairy farming, about which she surely had no prior opinions.

If Caroline Kennedy had, at any point in the last month, offered a detailed opinion on any subject -- even with a lot of "y'know"s -- a lot of us would have said, "Yup, she could be a solid senator."