by JACK MOSEL
Contributing Editor, NYS Resident,Caroline Kennedy supporter
Ready or Not: It now appears that the Kennedy legacy will fall squarely into Caroline's lap
I find it somewhat interesting that no sooner is Caroline Kennedy’s name seriously mentioned as a contender for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Hillary Clinton, all of a sudden we start hearing words like “nepotism” and “dynasty” being tossed around. As if this is some kind of new phenomenon in American politics. Anyone ever heard of John Adams? How about John Quincy Adams? Yes, we’ve been doing this for awhile…
Of course, I understand that our apparent willingness to bestow power upon certain members of elite political families could be a weakness of the American political system, and that is a worthwhile debate to have. But where was all the righteous outcry about nepotism and dynasties over the past three decades when we were simply passing the torch back and forth between the Clinton and Bush royal families?
So, let me get this straight: if it is a Bush or a Clinton, dynasties are good, but if a Kennedy wants to enter public office, dynasties are bad?
What is so horribly wrong with JFK’s daughter ‘evening up’ the ‘dynasty’? Aside from the obvious “lack of experience” mantra we so often hear nowadays, does the bloodline of JFK and RFK bear any merit and value for us? Nepotism, they say? Thank GOD it’s not Despotism (unless you’d rather have the last 8 years back).
I’m more than okay with a Kennedy representing me as a NY resident. Caroline Kennedy as Senator representing NY State sends a message that there may be real change in the Senate coming, as well as in the Presidency. God knows we need all hands on deck now to turn this mess around…as Caroline herself said the other day in Harlem: “this is a time when no one can afford to sit out.”
Now that’s the spirit, Caroline! That’s why I think you’re gonna do just fine as a Senator. What you don’t know, you will quickly learn. What you haven’t done before, you will do. Your ability and willingness are the only qualifications you really need for this gig, and don’t let people tell you otherwise.
Remember that before your uncle won that same senate seat in 1964, he served as the most “unqualified” U.S. attorney general in American history. Your father appointed Bobby as A.G. knowing he had no courtroom experience as a lawyer, but JFK trusted that what RFK didn’t know, he would learn. Jack was right — his younger brother (appointed among cries of “blatant Nepotism!” and “Unqualified!”) turned out to be more than just controversial…most historians now agree that Robert Kennedy was also the finest attorney general of the 20th century, if not in the entire history of this nation.
So, on the subject of nepotism and political dynasties, let’s take a look at what Politico had to say about it earlier this week, then I’ll toss in my .02 cents below:
Nepotism Nation: Dems embrace dynasty politics
By CHARLES MAHTESIAN | 12/17/08 9:07 AM EST
“Americans always say they don’t like royalty and hereditary connections,” he said. “On the other hand, they really like families like the Kennedys.”
Taken from: Politico.com 12/17/2008
The U.S. Senate could end up looking like an American version of the House of Lords. (Sen. Ted Kennedy with Caroline Kennedy)
Barack Obama’s path to the presidency included beating what had been one of the nation’s most powerful families. But, in an unusual twist, his election last month is helping accelerate the trend toward dynasty politics.
His secretary of state will be Hillary Clinton, the wife of the former president. The Senate seat she’ll vacate is being pursued by Caroline Kennedy, the daughter of a president and the niece of two senators. Joe Biden’s Senate seat may go to his son Beau. Colorado Sen. Ken Salazar, Obama’s pick for interior secretary, could end up being replaced by his brother, Rep. John Salazar.
And Obama’s own seat could go to the son of the Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. – less likely now in light of developments in the Rod Blagojevich scandal – or to the daughter of Illinois’ current House speaker.
The U.S. Senate could end up looking like an American version of the House of Lords – and Republicans have begun to take notice.
“Democrats seem to lack a common man who can just win a good, old-fashioned election,” said Rep. Tom Reynolds (R-N.Y.), the former chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee. “They’ve got seat-warmers, seat-sellers and the making of pillows for the seats of royalty. No wonder the public wonders what’s going on in Washington.”
While Obama’s election and subsequent Cabinet appointments may have accelerated the trend toward dynasty, he’s hardly responsible for it. There is a rich bipartisan history of dynasty in American politics that dates all the way back to the Founding Fathers; Obama-Biden actually represents the first winning ticket since 1976 without a son or a grandson of a U.S. senator on it.
In 2008, the storied Udall clan, sometimes referred to as the Western Kennedys, saw two members elected to the Senate— Mark from Colorado and Tom from New Mexico. In 2010, they could be joined in the Senate by Florida’s Jeb Bush, the son and brother of presidents and the grandson of a senator.
All told, it’s entirely possible that the Senate will be comprised of nearly a dozen congressional offspring by the end of Obama’s first term as president.
“It’s a very interesting American phenomenon, even though there is a line in the Constitution that says no title of nobility may be granted by the United States,” says Stephen Hess, a senior fellow emeritus at the Brookings Institution and the author of “America’s Political Dynasties.” “Given where we started, it’s interesting that this has developed.”
Almost everyone agrees that the high cost of elections is making the world’s most exclusive club seem even more exclusive. According to some estimates, the cost of winning Clinton’s New York Senate seat in the special election in 2010 and the general election in 2012 will be in the neighborhood of $70 million.
“There are three issues behind this trend,” said Bob Edgar, the president of Common Cause and a former Pennsylvania congressman. “Money is issue number one, money is issue number two and money is issue number three.”
“It’s an enormously expensive process to run for the United States Senate,” added Edgar, who ran unsuccessfully for the Senate in 1986. “And once someone runs for a Senate seat, there is a sense of ownership.”
At the moment, the Senate includes six sons or daughters of congressmen.
And the House – the “people’s House” – isn’t exactly bereft of hereditary influence, either.
In the 111th Congress next year, there will be 21 House members with a parent who also served in Congress – plus five wives who currently hold their late husbands’ seats.
If Caroline Kennedy is appointed to the New York Senate seat — once held by her uncle, Sen. Robert F. Kennedy — she would be joined in Congress not only by another uncle, Sen. Ted Kennedy, but also by his son, Rhode Island Rep. Patrick Kennedy .
Caroline Kennedy picked up support Tuesday from Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.), but Kennedy’s relative inexperience has some other New York Democrats feeling wary – even if she does come wrapped in a legendary political name.
Republican New York Rep. Peter King – who is considering his own run for the seat – asked why New Yorkers would feel more comfortable with Kennedy “than with people who have worked in the trenches and worked their way up.”
Then he answered his own question.
As dynasties go, here's one I can live with: President John F. Kennedy and first lady Jacqueline Kennedy, with their children John Jr. and Caroline
Okay, at some point we who are supportive of politically active Kennedys are going to need to take a position on Caroline’s aspiration to become “D-NY Senator Kennedy”…
That said, and with times of real peril foisted upon us from previous ‘Dy-Nasty’s” ! (Bush 1 & 2)… Cronyism and Nepotism need real alignment and accountablility if / should “it” be permitted to be continued as our best practices management going forward from the hell we are in presently.
A word about Caroline Kennedy, from the humble perspective of a New Yorker: I don’t know much about her, nobody (mainstream) really does.. She is the Daughter of JFK, she has lived in NYS most of her life, has worked in education, has kept her head low politically and in mid-life, is coming out to face a potential continuation of a paternal legacy in her aspiring to serve us in the Federal Government.
Not just any legacy is this public servant seeking to carry on, but the legacy we thought we would never see, ever again…the legacy of Pres. John Fitzgerald Kennedy. I know, I know, right JFK! are you nuts? She hasn’t the slightest idea of what government is! (you might and most likely are saying). Another angle might be ‘great, give Democrats an inch and they’ll take a mile! Oh boy we’re really gonna be taxed and spent out of our minds now! Freeking Liberals!!!…’ Ad Infinitum, to include most easily understood diatribe from the right and all talking points from the Rovianesque era we so need to build escape velocity to break away from.
The Dynasty thing is kinda creepy I’ll admit, but then again this is the Daughter of JFK. “John John,” Caroline’s only brother was ‘killed’ in the prime of his life and was posturing for public office himself, it seemed (this very same Senate seat, as a matter of fact). Caroline’s cousin RFK Jr. is completely active and has his finger on our nation’s pulse in terms of speaking just like his dad and his Uncle did to serve us… and yes, I have to confess that Bobby Jr. was my natural first choice to get the appointment to the senate seat once held by his father. So now comes Caroline.
Caroline, in my book is entitled to at least step up and take a shot at the office of NYS Senator. I don’t have to recant the horrors that Caroline and John Jr. or RFK. Jr. for that matter had to endure for their entire lives… Who else in the “running” for Senate, had their Father and Uncle shot in cold blood (Assassinated) as our sitting U.S. President and NYS Senator, in front of the entire world?
Now in their early 50s, Caroline and RFK Jr. are all grown up and ready to pick up the torches their martyred fathers left behind. With family obligations and enough money and projects to keep them busy for the rest of their lives, they’d dare to take the risk of serving the next generation, their generation of today’s broken America, with the myriad of quagmiristic dilemma and trauma associated with anything political today? Why would they do it if they didn’t truly feel a call towards a life of public service? I would have thought that if public service was sought for someone who just had to merely show interest in running to gain a senate seat, then the present is certainly not the most advantageous or attractive of a time to “fall in” for duty…
“LET US BEGIN ANEW”
We have corruption and despotic foundations laid in the blood soaked brick and mortar of our nations’ highest offices and agancies today (Fact). We have endured a legacy of utter disregard for our most basic principles in this past administration (Fact). We are staring down the barrel of real economic disaster (We are bankrupt?!). Thanks largely to Brain Trusts and lobbyists from this administration which ushered in the likes of unbridled derregulation and real “trickle down my leg” beauties like the Enron loophole (thanks Bush), environmental disaster, infrastructure decay, moral degredation (inside and outside of government), a non-educated / dis-interested youth and a breeding ground for people in the world for people who don’t like “US” very much lately (Fact).
A “super- hero” is not likely to emerge… More likely however, we’ll need all the best and brightest to heal our great country and if ‘Star Power’ is anticipated as that which comes from JFK Himself , represented by his kin is available… So be it.
Not that it is even on the table… I feel our nation owes a debt of gratitude in the least in this case, to take the Daughter of JFK seriously when she say’s SHE WANTS TO SERVE US. What right to any nepotism do any of the current Dynasties serving in government have to authenticate their “right to that priviledge” over that which should be embraced and welcomed from all of us as a nation to offer an open placeholder for JFK’s children, who shared directly and publicly in our nations’ best and worst modern times…
There is an eternal flame marking JFK’s grave. That flame has been lit for over 40 years… People to this day hold tremendous respect for President Kennedy’s purpose and message, with enduring sentiment and commitment. When was the last time that you can remember(if ever), that a single person moved so many and as much as JFK?… I can’t recall one. Ask not… what a Kennedy can do for us, the irony and tragedy is immense and their service has been obvious… Ask what… we can do for a Kennedy…
If there is one person, one name, one qualified, bonefide name for healing our identity in these days and possibly usher back in respect for us from the world, that name is Caroline Kennedy. Real change is coming to America, with a new president coming to power in less than 30 days… Let that be partly in the presence of the capable, intelligent, adult child of JFK sitting in our Senate, representing the iconic and proud State of NY!
I say “KENNEDY… UNTIL PROVEN OTHERWISE!”
Let JFK’s LEGACY BEGIN ANEW… and enjoy this moment while it lasts. Don’t worry, the BUSH “NEPOTISM” is ultimately going to rear it’s head again… Right Jeb?! (Boy, another Bush Administration will just about “put the fork in” us altogether… We’ll be DONE!) But right now, we’ve got work to do — serious work — work begun nearly half a century ago by Caroline’s father, President Kennedy. Work that is still unfinished.
After JFK’s Assassination, President Lyndon B. Johnson said, “let us continue…” Now, 45 years later, I say: “Let us begin again!”
“All this will not be finished in the first one hundred days. Nor will it be finished in the first one thousand days; nor in the life of this Administration; nor even perhaps in our lifetime on this planet. But let us begin.
In your hands, my fellow citizens, more than mine, will rest the final success or failure of our course. Since this country was founded, each generation of Americans has been summoned to give testimony to its national loyalty. The graves of young Americans who answered the call to service surround the globe.
Now the trumpet summons us again…
In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger. I do not shrink from this responsibility — I welcome it. I do not believe that any of us would exchange places with any other people or any other generation. The energy, the faith, the devotion which we bring to this endeavor will light our country and all who serve it. And the glow from that fire can truly light the world.”
— President John F. Kennedy’s Inaugural Address, January 20, 1961
* The opinions expressed above are solely those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., the Kennedy family, or the owners of this website.