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Why I Don't Agree with Those Who Oppose Caroline Kennedy's Appointment

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I agree that high public office in the United States should not be dominated by dynastic political aristocracies.  There are problems in the workings of our political system and our general culture that need to be addressed to reverse that tendency.

Even so, based on what I can see, I strongly support the appointment of Caroline Kennedy (Schlossberg) to Hillary Clinton's Senate seat.

The central issue here for me is not about Kennedy herself and what she wants, but rather about what is best for the political forces I care about.  It's not about whether JFK's daughter is "entitled" to the seat but whether her holding that seat will strengthen what I consider the "forces of good" in the coming political battles.

And by that criterion, Caroline Kennedy's appointment seems not only like a winner, but like a genuine blessing.

It may be regrettable that our political culture affords such prestige and charisma to people on the basis of their pedigree and name recognition, but it is a reality.  And because of that reality, Caroline Kennedy is surrounded by an aura that confers on her considerable power.

In addition to her name, however, even if she has not been a contender in the political arena, she has shown over the years much that is commendable.  She has shown herself to be hard-working and intelligent and responsible and concerned about the public good-- far more on all those counts, I would suggest, than most members of the U.S. Senate.  

She's not only part of the family that is the closest we have to "royalty," she has shown herself to be the classiest of that clan's members.

She is not only the daughter of a glamorous president whose martyrdom fixed him forever, like Lincoln, in the most emotionally charged parts of the national psyche, she is also, in her own right, an accomplished woman whose life gives testimony to humane values.  
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For all those reasons, when Caroline Kennedy takes the stage to speak, her words and her will will carry a weight far beyond what any other freshman Senator could begin to aspire to.  It is that weight that's important.

What matters most to America's political future right now, as I see it, is how much power President Obama will be able to wield in trying to shape and lead this badly damaged nation.

By that criterion, I cannot imagine who could do more to strengthen Obama's hand from that New York Senate seat than Caroline Kennedy.  And not only could but would, as she demonstrated by her standing up for his candidacy when that support really mattered.

So when she speaks, as a Senator, in support of our new president --she, a smart and attractive woman whose inherited aura automatically inspires the interest and support of a huge proportion of the American public-- she will be an important ally, a bishop or a knight on the board and not a mere pawn.

In normal times, I might be willing to give the issue of the danger of "political dynasties" greater weight, and possibly allow that to predominate in judging this appointment.  But these are not normal times in this American democracy, and for these times, Caroline Kennedy's availability seems like a boon for a country that needs all the good help it can get.
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My sense is that Caroline Kennedy, who has previously consistently avoided the limelight that has always been available to her, is offering herself for this position not out of ambition, or a desire for glory, but out of a desire to serve.  And I for one am grateful to her for it.


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Andy Schmookler, an award-winning author, political commentator, radio talk-show host, and teacher, was the Democratic nominee for Congress from Virginia's 6th District. His new book -- written to have an impact on the central political battle of our time -- is (more...)

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