Caroline Kennedy's Campaign Is the Blogosphere's Christmas Pony!

By Al Giordano

It's official: Caroline Kennedy has indicated to New York Governor David Paterson that she would like to serve in the US Senate. The reactions from many quarters are fascinating.

Some folks I respect and often agree with, like Markos and his front-pager Brownsox seem to absolutely detest the idea. Kos compared a possible Kennedy appointment to a "monarchy" a week ago. Yet the rank-and-file Kossacks apparently aren't swayed (in a poll there this morning, 61 percent favored Kennedy - her numbers appear to be increasing from previous Daily Kos diarist polls - to just 12 percent for Andrew Cuomo, 9 percent for US Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand and 17 percent for "other").

Others I have often disagreed with this year, like Jeralyn at TalkLeft (but with whom I share a passion for civil liberties and the Bill of Rights), however, sees what I see:

I think she's more than qualified to be a U.S. Senator and I hope she gets the position. We need more Senators who are cognizant and respectful of our constitutional rights. She'll be great for education and funding for the arts.

She's outside the Washington power grid but knows how it works. Her celebrity will bring increased attention to the progressive bills she introduces, co-sponsors and supports. I think she's exactly the kind of change we need to bring to Washington.

Chris Bowers at Open Left devoted an entire blog entry this afternoon to a Hail Mary pass on the matter, promoting US Rep. Louise Slaughter for the post instead:

Caroline Kennedy is now officially running to be appointed to Hillary Clinton's Senate seat. Frankly, I consider her to be undeserving of the seat, given that she has never won an election and that basically her only qualification would be her family name...

While I am pooh-poohing the Kennedy candidacy, allow me to offer a better choice: Representative Louise Slaughter (NY-28)...

He then goes on to praise Slaughter's progressive record.

But, oops! Also today, those progressive values led the same US Rep. Louise Slaughter to endorse... Caroline Kennedy for Senate:

"I am pleased to endorse Caroline Kennedy for the United States Senate. She has spent her whole life fighting for what she believes in - she is a champion of public education, a lawyer, and an accomplished author... Our nation is facing extraordinary difficulties. Caroline Kennedy understands that the stakes have never been higher for our state and our nation. We need our next Senator to have the skills and the stature to help bring about the change we need."

The campaign is on to persuade Governor Paterson - a veritable primary-of-one - from all sides!

Today's news sent blogger Jane Hamsher to furiously write her second Huffington Post entry trashing Kennedy:

It seems Caroline Kennedy has decided she'd rather have a US Senate seat than a pony for Christmas... Really?  She's "making calls this morning to alert political figures to her interest?"    I guess it was either that or get her nails done... How about the public, huh?  How about them?  You know, those little people whose ordinary lives she hopes to enrich by her presence?  How about getting out and talking to them?  Maybe she could overcome her legendary shyness and tell people what she stands for?  Now there's a thought... I thought at least she's get out before the cameras and start making her case to the public before she announced her intentions, because simply lobbying your well-connected buddies just oozes an outrageous sense of entitlement and insufferable pomposity.

I guess she'll take entitlement for a thousand, Alex.

Jebus, imagine if during the presidential primaries someone had snarked about Senator Clinton (Hamsher's candidate) getting "her nails done." There would have been accusations of misogyny and sexism and calls for that person's head.

And besides, Caroline has already had a pony:

(It's name was Macaroni, a gift from vice president Lyndon Johnson.)

All of this is so much fun. We political junkies get something to type about other than the long slow march of Obama's appointments, speculating without a crystal ball about how they'll govern, and the Blagojevich sideshow and criminal investigation in Illinois.

All the readers here know that I love the idea. And the louder some yell about her never having run for office or served in a legislature, the more it convinces me she'll be the right move for Paterson and my homeland of New York. True, she doesn't talk like a politician, she doesn't walk like a politician, and as a part of the vast majority of us that are part of "anti-political culture" but forced to deal with the blowhards of political culture because of the pain and suffering they inflict on this world, maybe we can slip one of our very own into that hornets' nest called the US Senate.

I mean, what is so friggin' special or meritorious about having spent one's career in elective office? That Caroline Kennedy could have had almost any political job for the asking in recent decades but chose other paths instead makes her, in my view, more qualified, not less. I'm just not impressed with most folks that have dedicated their lives to seeking public office, and have seen that process corrode at their principles and instincts too much to think that all politicians, when they move on, must be replaced from some kind of farm team of lower level elected officials.

And in any case, we get the next month or so - until Senator Clinton is confirmed as Secretary of State there won't be any appointment from Paterson - to argue and debate about it. Hooray and Happy Hanukah.

Caroline has already saved the blogosphere from the holiday season doldrums. She's our very own Christmas pony. Thank you, Santa!



What about Bush?

All of this is so much fun. We political junkies get something to type about other than the long slow march of Obama's appointments, speculating without a crystal ball about how they'll govern, and the Blagojevich sideshow and criminal investigation in Illinois.

What about Bush?  Any thoughts on the Senate's report on his ties to US torture policy or his shoe-dodging abilities?


Could not be happier about Caroline's interest in offering her service to the people of New York and our nation as well.  I applaud her stepping up and reminding us that Obama has brought inspiration to many of us to serve our country by becoming more involved in ways we never thought possible. 


Crossposted to DKos


the vitriol against Caroline is sickening

it's mean, it's petty, and I hope to God she gets appointed and prove all those haters wrong.




It's fantastic...

I can't tell you how much I love this idea... on so many levels. Good, warm, kind-hearted people do deserve to be in office also. This government wasn't just created for those that are best at wheeling and dealing. Geez-do they not remember the election we just had? We choose Barack Obama-he who had with less experience than most-because we believed he would and could bring the change this country needs! These tantrum prone critics really need to see the forest through the trees on this.


Governor Patterson is at least approaching this decision honestly. The last I read, an aide put Caroline Kennedy's odds as 20 to 1 against because she wouldn't be as "aggressive and even obnoxious" as she needed to be to get money for New York. As an Oregonian, I hope for senators who'll help Obama with his agenda and see the money be distributed fairly.

One of my character flaws is jealousy, and I recognize it influencing my attitude towards Caroline Kennedy. Class resentment is a little more appropriate, but pragmatism probably means using good-hearted people from any class background who can help this country.

I think NY would be lucky

Caroline Kennedy is more than qualified.

Kennedy Derangement Syndrome

You are right! It is the Clintonites who are the most vocal. Hilary needs to shut this shyt down. She doesn't want to. Obama should shut this down, but thanks to Blago, any overt preference on Obama's part will cause nothing but heartache.

The Clintonites are so vocal, because they know that if Caroline gets that seat, it's her until she doesn't want it anymore. If Clinton leaves SoS office and wants to return to Senate, there is no way she will/could challenge Kennedy. Add to that, Caroline Kennedy has the possibility to crush any primary opponent.

The guy on Hardball said it best, if Caroline gets the seat and runs in 2010 "Caroline Kennedy will do to Senate campaign fundraising what Obama did for Presidential campaign fundraising"

Jane's Nails

Yet again a Clinton toady demonstrates that no blow is too low or sexist in the great game of self-affirmation and self-consolidation that always has been the Soap Opera, Inc. At least Markos is consistent in his anti-monarchical vitriol (though I know nothing of his opinion about whether non-resident First Ladies without electoral or administrative victories, not to mention books written without ghost-writers, count as royalty). The idea that we might have a genuinely progressive Senator from New York that does not carry baggage or water for the money industry, be it on Wall Street or in Kazakhstan, is just so galling. 

Key Qualification: Who is best for New York?

Key Qualification: Who is best for New York?

Put in that context, Caroline Kennedy makes great sense, regardless of any of peoples' other thoughts about her.  Who else in New York would have anywhere near as direct a line of communication to the President-Elect and the connections in the Senate?

Seems kind of like a no-brainer to me.

The dissenters

I tend to be a real stickler for "electability" before "values" if, for no other reason, because in congress, the first step to getting progressive legislation is controlling the chamber. Take my home-state of New Mexico, even though I was exceedingly happy to have Tom Udall run because he's a strong progressive (as opposed to my mayor Martin Chavez, who is pretty scuzzy anyways), the fact is he was also the strongest Democrat in the state (before Richardson). The same is true of Caroline Kennedy; I have no doubt she'll be a strong progressive, but she's also going to be a strong candidate to run for election in 2010.

"The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie, deliberate, contrived and dishonest, but the myth, persistent, persuasive and unrealistic.” JFK

Comments on Jane Hamsher's rant at HuffPo

I just finished reading at this point all 152 comments on Jane Hamsher's Huffington Post rant.  I would say about 75%-80% are supportive of Caroline, pointing out that whoever gets this post will be appointed and many, many picked up the Clinton noise and doing her nails comment.  Here's one from JailNeoConVicts:

Wow. This is a smart constitutional lawyer who's written several well-regarded books, including one focused on the Bill of Rights. Her early support of Obama, and the clear ideology of the Kennedys, makes it obvious how she stands on issues. Besides which, no matter who gets it, this Senate seat is an appointment, not an election. SO, Jane, what the HHHH is your problem?


Best choice for NY

As someone pointed out elsewhere, which other candidate for the job can pick up the phone and call the President direct on his cell?  I think she's the perfect pick to represent the interests of the Empire State, notwithstanding her other virtues.

The only reason why I'm lukewarm to Kennedy's taking over

The only reason why I'm lukewarm to Kennedy's taking over Sen Clinton's seat is that she had been against Clinton's candidacy. Otherwise, why not? She's perhaps as qualified (or unqualified) as the next candidate for the seat.

I think that part of the

I think that part of the problem is that some folks are repelled by the idea of a US aristocracy.  The Kennedy family is the closest thing to aristocracy that we have.

What I would point out is that the Kennedys have been more meritorious as a family than most families of priviledge.  They have earned their familial bone fides through advocating a progressive, pro-worker set of policies.  This earns them contempt among the barbaric rightwing.

You can always smell rightwing reaction among the worker class when they spew contempt for the Kennedys.  Scratch deeper and you will find that such people also hate worker solidarity and unions.

I like Caroline Kennedy way more than Hillary Clinton--or the other contenders for this senate seat.  This woman has class and a healthy ethical instinct.

Lastly, I would say that as a society we are still steeped in notions that seem to contradict pure meritocracy.  For instance, why is there so little discussion of the fact that the wealthy don't commit their children to imperialist military adventures?

In so many areas, we don't appear to have the capacity to engage minimal sane conversation (at least not in the corporate media).

There are ample contradictions are we should pay attention to, but in the pragmatics of playing politics in our nation, we should not reject Caroline Kennedy as a way, way great prospect toward strengthening progressive politics in the US Senate.



As a NYer

I'm ambivalent. On the one hand, she's a good bet in terms of fund-raising and electoral appeal to win the seat twice over the next four years. (of course her skills on the stump are totally untested but one assumes its in the genes). 

On the other hand, she really is not a person of tremendous accomplishment. (I mean, she raised three kids, which is a huge accomplishment, but not one that generally qualifies one for the senate.) Even Mrs. Clinton, as much as I dislike her, did lay claim to many accomplishments besides wife and mother. (and she was also elected) Caroline has been an effective fund-raiser and no doubt a decent person, but she has not been a practicing lawyer, she has not made significant contributions as a writer in terms of policy or politics a la Moynihan. Her positions on almost all issues are unknown. Al says she will be progressive and effective like her uncle, but no one really knows.

The one issue where she has been outspoken and involved has been in support of her friend Joel Klein. Now I can tell you as a parent in the NYC public schools, Klein has been destroying our school system. He has ruined perfectly good schools, driven away wonderful teachers and turned the schools into test-obsessed machines. Meanwhile he has tried to destroy any kind of democratic governance or parental involvement in the schools. Any system-wide improvements have been negligible or non-existent, but he has undertaken a huge (and successful) publicity campaign with Michael Bloomberg's money to convince people otherwise. But every parent in NYC knows differently.

My concern is that New York has truly ceased to become a democracy. It is all a cozy compact of billionaires sharing power. Caroline writes a letter of recommendation so Rupert's daughter can get into Brearley and Rupert endorses her in the NY Post. There is no one left in city politics willing to stand up to Bloomberg's money. I'm sure she's an okay person, but it is not healthy for democracy when there is no new blood. Paterson should appoint a place-holder and Caroline should run in 2010 if she's interested and make her case to the voters.


I agree with Jane: This seat is way too important to be occupied by someone who has never held elective office before. I mean, before occupying this seat, Hillary Clinton had been elected to ... um, wait. Scratch that.

How about: This seat is way too important to be occupied by someone who get their strictly because of her family connections. Um, wait ... that doesn't work, either.

Tell me again why Hillary was qualified for this seat but Caroline isn't?

Kos is going to get his hat handed to him

Kos is so wrong on this one. Does just having the name "kennedy" make you a part of a dynasty? Dynasty is where something is being passed down to you from above. Elder brother to younger brother. Father to son. Husband to wife (yes I know that's patriarchal). Name recognition is not dynasty - it's part and parcel of community life.  In smaller states you often see dynasty a la Biden. That is not happening here.  In large diverse states - you have a natural advantage if you have name recognition. Hillary had name recognition and she used it. RFK - had name reconition and used it. The issue is not appointment or election. Teddy Kennedy "won" JFK's seat that he vacated when he became president. Teddy was 30 years old. That was dynasty.

I had a huge problem with Hillary running for president with Bill (the ex president) actively campaigning for her as he did, as if he was a co-president and a vote for Hillary was a vote Bill and vice versa. Wrong, wrong, wrong. That was dynasty at work.

There is nothing wrong with factoring in name recongnition as part of the equation. People better assume that Guillani is going to run for the seat. Do they want to have a real shot at winnig against him or don't they? Is it a risk to put Caroline up against him?  Sure - but so is it to put up someelse who no one has ever heard of. I think Caroline is the better gamble.

Sure, you want to say Caroline just picked up the phone - but that's a spin - she had no other choice. What should she do if she feels she is ready personally and professionally to run for Senator because a seat has opened up at the right time (they don't that often - not in your home state - just ask Hillary)?  Tell Paterson she will run in 2010, but not accept appointment now - that's ridiculous.  Is that smart politics?  No! What is Paterson suppose to do under those circumstances?  If you care to win and hold the seat in 2010 you want EVERY advantage, and so does Paterson.

Caroline Kennedy could have run for congressional office and won it easily - what would that have proved?   Really? How long would she have had to serve to impress them? Her counsin Patrick is a Rep from R.I. - fine fellow - not very impressive as Senator material though. But according to them, he is more deserving of such an appointment than she is. Yea, right.

To me alot of this opposition is knee jerk and I'm sorry that Kos didn'ttake longer to sort it out before mouthing off.


About CK and HRC

Regarding Hillblogger's comments above - it is important to point out that CK was extremely supportive of Hillary Clinton...she donated a total of $7300.00 to HRC's Senatorial (2006) and Presidential (2007) campaigns. The idea that she decided to back another democrat makes her 'against HRC' is pretty bad revisionist history.

Beyond that - it makes me puke to think that the Clintons are trying to undermine Carolina Kennedy. I hope it isnt true and that its just her underlings.


To Michael from NYC

Here is a link to Caroline Kennedy's bio. I gathered from your post that you might not be familiar with her accomplishments because she is personally so low key.

I think she is a terrific choice for her progressive record, electability, and for her access to President Obama.

I think the main issue, were

I think the main issue, were I a New Yorker, is whether Caroline Kennedy will work all that hard at being a senator.  As annoying as politicians are, they usually work hard to get elected, and those who have too easy a road to office frequently don't work hard once they get there.  The Senate needs worker bees, and in particular, progressive worker bees.  Does anybody have any clue whether Caroline Kennedy is going to serve in that role?  Or is she always going to try to let her name do the talking?  I don't know the answer, but I think the question is worth asking.  Instead of calling all the kingmakers, why doesn't she put out some kind of statement about what she hopes to accomplish as a senator?

Stirring up a hornet's nest on Kos, Al.

Looks like you've struck a nerve over at DK, Al. Almost 1000 comments and counting!

I'm with you. After Blagojevich, no drama is the new black. Kennedy will be a relief. Go Irish!

And it was a pleasure to see Jane Hamsher unwittingly out herself as a total phony, casually dropping sexist and classist caricatures from her self-annointed "progressive" leader perch. Oops.

All that's missing from the metastisizing Obama transition period formula on this one is David Sirota saying I Told You So. About something. Not sure what yet, but give it time.

fairy tale


What exactly are Clinton's accomplishments in terms of initiatives, legislation, and intellectual production? What exactly has she accomplished on her own?



For many, being against Clinton's candidacy is a plus and not a minus. Also, why is that a requirement? If supporting Obama were a requirement for cabinet posts, Clinton would not be SOS. Perhaps Clinton's "supporters" could learn something from Obama's example. (Please don’t tell me she campaigned for him. After her despicable and embarrassing campaign, this is the LEAST she could do. And, one could argue, she had to do this for her own political survival. I refuse to congratulate a woman for simply doing the right and necessary thing which are the consequences of her own choices. That would be sexist.)


General Comment: Sheesh. All these people getting their sense of self from some false drama of victimization of their chosen one (since apparently Caroline Kennedy, Michelle Obama, or Kathleen Sebelius, for example, are not women) just so that they can spuriously consolidate/position themselves as fighters for "truth," "justice," "democracy," and the "little people," none of which seem to matter when it comes to their own "candidate". Talk about celebrity-worship and pathetic self-projection (as if Clinton personally cares about or knows most of them). I am sick of the Clinton fairy tale. Some of these women are acting like they are trying to protect a "popular" girl clique, or maintain Clinton’s power for their own derivative prestige as its "protectors." How feminist is that??? 


Has Clinton paid all her debts from her campaign to those small businesses that are surely hurting in this economy? Perhaps Clinton's "supporters” can look up those fellow Americans and blog about THEIR stories. Now THAT would be feminist. 

Hillary apparently calls off the dogs

According to Ben Smith at Politico, she's told her supporters "not to impede" Kennedy's path to the U.S. Senate on her behalf.

Quoting the article:

"All three "were told that their comments weren't appreciated, and that if they have a candidate they prefer that is motivating their comments and actions, they need to make that crystal clear so that nobody thinks we're behind it," said a person close to the replacement talks."


Amen.  But this is the "professional sisterhood" we're talking about, who seem to love to cloak themselves in bitterness over Hillary and over their own perceived slights in "a man's world."  Unlike Caroline Kennedy.  (And I just love it when a woman seems like she actually is female - don't you?)

Meritocracy schmeritocracy

They're all insiders.

This is tactical.

Go Caroline!


Art that has to be in a gallery to be art isn't art.

Go Caroline!

Axelrod partner working on Kennedy


The Times mentions that John Del Cecato is among Caroline Kennedy's advisors.

He's also a partner in David Axelrod's firm who worked on Obama's '04 Senate race and worked closely on making many of Obama's ads this year.

Which isn't entirely irrelevant.


Reid pushes Caroline

Jon Ralston reports that Harry Reid is lobbying for Caroline Kennedy to join the Senate.

her progressive record?

Dear Mom in Maine


I looked over the bio. I'm afraid I still fail to be awed by her accomplishments. Don't get me wrong, I think she seems like a lovely and admirable person. And I don't think a candidate needs to have elected office to qualify.


But one of the objections I had when people contrasted Sarah Palin's experience with Barack Obama's was that though his governmental experience wasn't huge, he was someone who had clearly been involved in major issues of all kinds, ranging from education to social justice to constitutional law, taking positions and making decisions. Whereas Sarah Palin had only been concerned with local Wasilla budgetary issues until very recently.


When I look at CK's bio, I see the board of the ABT, her books, which are quite fluffy and uncontroversial, hardly scholarly works or works of independent thought, and most substantially, her work on behalf of Joel Klein.


Now I've written up above why I think Joel Klein has been a horrible education chancellor, so I find her close alliance with him and Bloomberg very disturbing.It makes me question whether she has genuine progressive principles, as Al hopes, since the one issue she's taken a stand on, I think she's terribly wrong. 

Siddharta, I'm not going to debate Mrs. Clinton with you, as I've never been an admirer. I like CK for standing up to her and endorsing Obama in the primaries and if she ran for election I would consider voting for her (depending on the opposition etc...)

But I am not convinced she is this great progressive Al is touting. Plus I am concerned about the role of money in NY politics. Someone with an overwhelming financial advantage like Bloomberg has really exempted himself from democracy, at least locally

Patterson would appear to be

blind (whoops, that appears to be a touchy subject with him) if he didn't give Caroline the nod. I see no down side, this is win, win, win. Mrs. Clinton carpetbagged her way into NY with little in the way of credentials but much support from downstate (upstate not so much). The sooner NY purges itself of the 'Clintonista's the better for us and the country as a whole. Caroline has lived below the radar for a long time but has an impressive resume and is "NO DRAMA". Her father saw this path as a possiblity before she was born or knew that she would be a 'she'. He would be proud of her and his country and we will be too.

Senator Caroline Kennedy

I am amazed at the criticism of Ms. Kennedy - and wonder if those criticizing her think anyone else could have written an OpEd in the New York Times after the South Carolina primary that could have made as much of a difference as her words did.

Could anyone else have had her stature and presence on the campaign, acting as a surrogate, and done as much good as she did. Did those people not watch her on Meet the Press when Brokaw tried to get more information from her about the Vice Presidential vetting process.

This woman is strong and smart and committed to public service. She has lived her adult life as a resident of New York. She has a depth of knowledge about the Constitution and Bill of Rights that few in the Senate could match.

As far as I know, Caroline

As far as I know, Caroline Kennedy would make an excellent senator, but just how relevant is that right now?  Maybe a hypothetical would help.

Let's assume McCain  won the election and had pulled Mitch McConnell into his cabinet.  If Gov. Schwarzeneggger had expressed his interest in McConnell's seat, I think progressives would have been upset.  We would have claimed cronyism.  One of our first complaints would have been "He is not from Kentucky - He lives in California - How can he represent the people of Kentucky?"  That's the argument I would make. 

Let's ask the same question here.  Caroline Kennedy lives, with her husband and children (Child?) in California.  How can she claim to know or understand the needs of New Yorkers.

Further, when she sets up residence in New York, how much of her family will she leave behind?  I am not questioning her parenting.  How much time will she really spend in New York if her family is in California?

This seems to me to be carpet bagging at its worst.  Cronyism and patronage is not OK just because it is the Democrats doing it this time.  We are supposed to be better than the Republicans.

The people of New York deserve a senator who can and will work to represent them - not one who has decided she wants to be in the Senate and sees this as the quickest route. 

There are plenty of superbly qualified New Yorkers, both male and female.

If Carolyn Kennedy sincerely wants to represent the people of New York, she can relocate and run for office.  Frankly, from what I have seen of her, I think she would be a fins senator.  Just not this way.

On the other hand, if you are insistant that the seat must be filled by an outsider, then I nominate Patricia Schroeder.  She is from Colorado, and one of the best politicians of recent history.

Caroline Kennedy is a longtime New Yorker

Old Norweigian - There's something on the Internet called a "search engine." You should try it sometime. Had you done so you'd find that Caroline Kennedy has been a New York City resident since childhood. And her kids were born and raised there.

Clinton "clearing the way"

Someone is reading the tea leaves...what say you, Al?

Good on HRC

Joel - Senator Clinton vowed to be a team player and we shouldn't expect anything less. That was an early test for the Secretary-nominee and she passed it. May she pass more!

the virulence of the anti-Kennedy reaction

on many blogs is a bit bewildering. You would think that Caroline Kennedy was some sort of secret Republican and not a strong progressive who would be a good vote for Obama in the Senate.

Today's big thing seems to be comparing her to Palin?!?

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About Al Giordano


Publisher, Narco News.

Reporting on the United States at The Field.

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