Caroline Kennedy, appointed to U. S. Senate?
When rumors spread that Robert Todd Lincoln, son of the assassinated president, Abraham Lincoln, was considering a political career on his own the ever vigilant American print media went ballistic. No less than Joseph Pulitzer, himself, led an avalanche of stinging editorials warning that the emergence of Lincoln represented a dangerous threat to democracy and that any attempt at a political career would be fiercely opposed.
“True democracy makes no claims of birth or name,” wrote Pulitzer’s paper. “The merits of the man not the accident of his ancestry should be the passport to positions of public trust under a republican government.” And as the specter of another Lincoln in public life grew more likely, the editorials grew more vicious. “Rotten Republicanism has learned to reverse things that savor of monarchy and aristocracy,” the paper wrote, “It would transmit the Presidency as their fathers’ successors to crowns.” (New York World, May 10, 1884.)
Today, the same writers who opposed the nomination of Hillary Clinton on the grounds that she was trading on her name and bemoaned the damage to the country of the Bush dynasty are now silent on the imminent appointment of Caroline Kennedy to the U.S. Senate.
Media types who were outraged by the inexperience of Sarah Palin are now dewy eyed over the prospect of another Kennedy in power.
But Sarah Palin had much more experience than Caroline Kennedy. In a rather partisan and misleading segment shown at the top of an Evening News program, the network anchor interviewed their paid historian, asking if Palin were qualified. “Actually,” Michael Bechloss intoned with a straight face, “Palin would be the first vice president who has not met with a foreign head of state since Pearl Harbor.”
A more relevant and more fair historic analysis would have pointed out that, love her or hate her, Sarah Palin’s service as a small town mayor and two years as governor, with an 80 % approval rating by her citizens, need not have been terribly troubling to the electorate. Considering that Theodore Roosevelt was a governor for only two years before taking on the vice presidency and then later moving into the White House. And Woodrow Wilson was a governor for two years before becoming president. Roosevelt and Wilson are almost always ranked among the five greatest presidents in American history.
But Caroline Kennedy? Appointed to the U.S. Senate?
There will be no Saturday Night Live skits calling a fat girl fat, or in this case, having a goofy Kennedy impersonator mumbling “and eh, you know?” ala Mrs. Kennedy in her soft ball interview with a local, handpicked, media person. Rather expect SNL to offer backhanded compliments. Nor will there be a condescending, I’m-the-principal-and-you-are-the-student interrogation from a news anchor. Or a gotcha interview with a top journalist.
This is a real, live, royal, coronation, folks. And, those “watchdogs of American democracy,” will be lining the road with flowers and winks.
Actually, Mrs. Kennedy’s interview with the handpicked, local media person, with the pre-approved questions, was rather revealing. She managed to survive the frightening question, “What would your mother think?” But she blew the next one, “What would your brother think?”
Said Mrs. Kennedy, “He would laugh his head off.”
Really? Why? Is she so unqualified that he wouldn’t be able to picture it?
But Mrs. Kennedy had regained her political savvy and offered an explanation, “Because that’s the way our relationship was.” We were not allowed to probe further.
Caroline Kennedy is my favorite Kennedy. She has done well as a child of a president. Her stature has transcended her White House experience. No easy feat. She is almost a social and philanthropic institution.
And it is true, that a perfect storm is upon us, that Republicans dare not complain, they have had their own dynasty. And who in the GOP wants the Bush family as enemies? And the Democrats have their Clintons. So we have this rare moment, when no partisan checks or balances are in play, and we have a historical version of “dynasties gone wild.”
But none of that excuses this irresponsible abdication of duty by the national media. The contrast with their partisan mugging of Sarah Palin is breathtaking in its hypocrisy.
For everything on children of presidents see…