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Caroline Kennedy as Jimmy Stewart?

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The bloviators say that Caroline Kennedy doesn't have enough "experience" in the political world to be a US Senator. "She's not tested," they say. "We don't know her positions."

What they're really saying is that she's not an insider, not part of the old-boy network, and thus not predictable.

Predictability is the key of get-along/go-along politics. Politicians are terrified of anything that may present a risk to them.

For example, I rarely have "big name" politicians on my radio show - for the same reason that Limbaugh, Savage, Levin, Rhodes, Malloy, and other top talk show hosts generally don't - such "famous" politicians will usually only go on a show that they know is "safe," where the host is guaranteed to suck up to them, will agree to narrow and specific questions in advance, won't press or argue with them, and won't go off topic. A few years ago I had a US Senator on about the Iraq war, changed topics and challenged the senator on the bankruptcy bill, and later got a call from a staffer telling me that I'd stepped over the line, that the senator would never come back on, and that this was no way to run a talk show.

That is the world of "back-slapping, old-boy" politics, and if Caroline Kennedy comes into the ultimate Old Boy's club of the senate as an outsider without having first paid proper homage, it could bring America a much-needed "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" moment.

There's no doubt she understands politics and loves and cares about her country. Her family has paid the ultimate price for such dedication; her Uncle Joe was shot down during World War II, her Uncle Bobby assassinated, and her father was brutally murdered, all because they believed so much in the promise of this country that they dedicated their lives to her service.

There's no doubt Caroline is savvy and thoughtful; witness the pivotal role she played in the Obama campaign's VP selection process, and campaigning for our next president.

There's no doubt her heart is in the right place; she's spent much of her life helping raise money for education and other public-service projects and organizations.

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"But she's never run for public office!" say the bloviators. "It's not small-'d' democratic that she just get appointed to the senate!"

Actually, it is democratic. It's being done according to the rules, and she will shortly face a real election that she'll have to begin considering on her first day in office. This is the heart of the democratic process; living by the rules.

The big fear of the political insider class, though, is that Caroline Kennedy may end up behaving more on the floor of the Senate like an outsider, much like the few politicians I'll have on my show who are not afraid to take listener's calls, be challenged on the air, and deal honestly with tough issues even when we disagree.

Caroline Kennedy as Jimmy Stewart? I, for one, am hopeful and more than willing to set aside my doubts and give her a chance to prove herself from within the US senate.

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cross posted from

Thom Hartmann is a Project Censored Award-winning New York Times best-selling author, and host of a nationally syndicated daily progressive talk program on the Air America Radio Network, live noon-3 PM ET. His most recent books are "The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight," "Unequal Protection: The Rise of Corporate Dominance and the Theft of Human Rights," "We The People," "What Would Jefferson Do?," "Screwed: The Undeclared War (more...)

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is a product of the elites who own us and as such ... by richard on Thursday, Dec 18, 2008 at 7:03:22 AM
and a little sad. I have made comments to Tho... by Michael Cavlan on Thursday, Dec 18, 2008 at 9:57:55 AM
If you look at the qualifications of people like D... by virginius "gin" arnold on Thursday, Dec 18, 2008 at 10:36:10 AM
The question is not what are CKS's qualificati... by Peter Duveen on Thursday, Dec 18, 2008 at 3:49:05 PM
Let's examine the quality of Thom Hartman... by Richard Mynick on Thursday, Dec 18, 2008 at 11:53:58 AM
Caroline has "cut her teeth" on politics... by Mary Pitt on Thursday, Dec 18, 2008 at 12:54:54 PM
You bring a little balance to me on a day I feel o... by virginius "gin" arnold on Thursday, Dec 18, 2008 at 4:39:14 PM
Who could be more "insider" than a Kenne... by jersey girl on Thursday, Dec 18, 2008 at 6:37:27 PM
How did we all get so cynical? Ms Kennedy is obvio... by Caronome on Friday, Dec 19, 2008 at 1:10:23 AM