I have always liked Caroline Kennedy. I felt queasy when I heard her suggested for the NY Senate seat.
Caroline has led a very full life, with lots of achievements, but surely no one is suggesting she would get the seat because she's been a good lawyer, written good books, etc. There are probably tens of thousands of people in NY state that qualified. And many of those ARE probably qualified, and would make great senators. But they won't get the appointment, or even be considered, not even as a crazy dream.
If it is handed to Caroline, it will be because of her family, particularly her father. She will have inherited the seat, like the "peerage" in the British monarchy.
A week ago, OS blogger Stella compared the Senate to the closest thing we have to a House of Lords. Exactly.
That aspect of the Senate has always rankled me, and this would be one of the worst precedents in my lifetime.
That body has spent the past 50 years way too filled with Bushes, Bayhs, Kennedys, Doles, Caseys, Murkowskis and all sorts of others working "the family business"--another phrase that makes me uneasy.
These people have every right to work the family name and connections, but as voters, I think we're generally foolish to support the dynastic system. We would be much wiser to examine the lingering feelings that draw us to the idea of Noble Families and Great Houses--the whole idea of nobility that our coutry tried to break from 200-plus years ago.
It keeps sucking us back. The ideas are strong. Bloodlines, nobility . . . they go way back in the mythology and literature we were raised on, and which remain alive and well in our films. (How did we love it that Luke turned out to be Princess Leia's sister! Yes, the force runs strong in that family! They are greater because they are related.)
No. It is total bullshit. It is the same fantasy that deludes us that because Caroline is the last of this holy line, or because she was a cute little kid during Camelot, she will grip the mighty Excalibur and reign triumphant over a grateful people.
This is the kind of shit we internalize. It's no accident that they called the JFK tenure Camelot. We eat that shit up. Humans love mythology. We seem wired with it, and toward monarchy, oligarchy and Noble Houses.
We love the idea of Excalibur. Hollywood is due for another blockbuster based on it. One of our dirty little secrets is that we kind of believe in magic. We let it infuse our thinking. Why wouldn't we? It's been guiding us for at least 10,000 years. It was all there in Homer, and it's alive in JK Rowling and Steven Spielberg today.
We can recognize the tug and resist.
How sad that even Hollywood rejects the brand-name/family-mystique idea, but the voters can't. Lots of movie star children get an easy break into films, but the vast majority of them fail pretty quickly. The success rate is low. In politics it is extremely high. That's pathetic.
Hollywood is full of persona whores. They worship mystique. But they're also a brutal meritocracy in a lot of ways. If you've got the full charisma of your daddy (or mom), or sometimes, even more, great. If you're a slightly lesser version, or not quite right for the moment, get out!
I was repulsed by the idea of "saving" the Delaware senate seat for Biden's son, the "natural heir." I was stunned by how quickly and easily the beltway boys all jumped onto that idea, all of them parotting it, no one that I heard questioning it. Oh, how sad the timing, that the guy was headed off to Iraq just when it was time to inherit dad's seat.
When did Americans become such monarchists?
How sick that the two supposed leading contenders for the NY seat are a Kennedy and Cuomo.The Baroness vs. the Vicount? Blech.
At least Andrew has taken his case to the people and run for statewide office.
Either one may be qualified, but let them earn it. I don't want a Baroness or a Vicount. I don't want a House of Lords. I want anyone with a famous parent to have to work twice as hard to prove they they deserve it, not half as hard.
If the voters still elect them, so be it. I think it's a big mistake, but at least it's democratic. But I don't ever want an inheritance appointment.
At this point, my gravest misgiving about Caroline's character is that she would buy into such a monarchical system. I really didn't think she would go for such a thing.
George Washington was supposedly offered a perenial seat as president, and had the wisdom and courage to refuse. Whether or not he could do a great job as president was dwarfed by the monarchist precedent he would set.
Whether or not Caroline does a great job as NY Senator would be dwarfed by the monarchist precedent she would set.
Caroline is not Princess Leia. On some level, we believe she is.