It seems that everyone has a bone to pick with the possibility of Caroline Kennedy replacing Hillary Clinton as the junior senator in New York. Oddly enough many of the criticisms being leveled against Kennedy could have been used against Clinton when she moved to the state, but weren’t.
Much of the criticism of Kennedy has revolved around her being a carpet bagger with no elected political experience. The same could have been said of Hillary Clinton when she located to the state after the end of her husband’s presidency. Clinton was certainly a carpet bagger with even less knowledge and experience in the state than Kennedy has, yet Mrs. Clinton was embraced while Kennedy has been criticized.
Part of the problem, as Susan Dominus pointed out in yesterday’s New York Times, involves personality. In public, Kennedy has seemed similar to her mother. She looked uncomfortable in the beginning of her appearances for Obama. She lacks the charm and charisma of her late father and brother. She has lived a private life out of the spotlight which is why her interest in the Senate seat was a surprise.
Hillary Clinton ended up fitting into New York City very quickly. She demonstrated herself to be a blue collar hard worker for her constituents all over the state. Mrs. Clinton’s experience as First Lady negated much of the criticism about her lack of experience. Caroline Kennedy does not have Clinton’s resume.
After George W. Bush, I think that many people are tired of political dynasties like the Bushes, the Clintons, and the Kennedys. Much of the criticism of Kennedy is centered on the idea of entitlement. Caroline Kennedy has never stated or acted like she feels entitled to the seat, but the very fact that a Kennedy could be appointed to a Senate seat rubs some people the wrong way.
Even though Kennedy has the intelligence to be a good senator, and she may very well get the appointment, she might have been better served by a special election process instead of a gubernatorial selection. If she is appointed, people will wonder if she got the seat because of her last name.
Maybe Kennedy really has been motivated by Obama to get into public service, but I personally don’t like celebrity candidacies whether they are Republican or Democratic. Kennedy needs to explain her policy positions to the people of her state. Otherwise, it will appear that her main qualification is her last name.