There’s a polite fiction that says that anybody can get into national politics and succeed, and it’s periodically true (man walks on fucking moon…), but it’s also true that having a famous name or pedigree helps. (Off the top of my head: Clinton, Dodd, Kennedy, Casey, Bush, McCain.. we could keep going.)
And there’s an argument that the help offered by famous family is often innocuous, especially if the person is also talented, because having lots of smart mentors around to help you break into the family business and have you avoid stupid mistakes. No one worries too much about the plumber whose dad was a plumber, or the philosopher whose dad was an academic.
And Caroline Kennedy seems to be a relatively talented fundraiser, and she might even be a good Senator. Yet the prospect that she could be appointed really sticks in my craw. Two reasons. At least the other favored sons and daughters had to be elected, which depending on your amount of cynicism, allows us to judge the instincts of their parents powerful friends and confirm or reject them, or it allows us to believe a little longer in the polite fiction that Mr. Smith could go to Washington.
But the second reason is hinted at in this article: it seems that this is about baby boomers fearing that the government won’t actually work if there isn’t a Kennedy in the Senate. We’d just gotten them past the point of thinking that every Presidential election had to be decided by Vietnam (though with all the cries about Obama and socialism/Communism, they were really trying), and here they are nostalgic over ponies named Macaroni.
(Perhaps a compromise is in order. Caroline Kennedy could get a reality show where cameras followed her around filming her doing good deeds, and the producers could intersperse the segments with pictures of her as a little girl. We could someone with legislative experience for the Senate seat. And then Kennedy could run in 2010 if she wanted.)
Am I the only one this bothers? I just figure if we’re going to have an aristocracy with family Senate seats, we should call it that, and make them wear togas with purple stripes.