How wonderful that our ruling elites make little effort to hide their disdain for us, their disdain for the pretence of republican government! It shows their power, their confidence, and their awareness of our passivity and stupidity.
On 30 August the FM site published “McCain believes we are stupid. Is he correct?“, about the nomination of Gov Palin as the Republican Party’s candidate for Vice President. Now the Democratic Party follows suit, least anyone foolishly believe the two parties differ in any significant way.
So we get Caroline Kennedy as Senator for the great State of New York. See her Wikipedia bio. Even the New York Times, famous for gravity with which it greets the latest absurdity — even insanity — of our elites, has difficulty with this step into the void: “Résumé Long on Politics, but Short on Public Office“, David M. Halbfinger, 15 December 2008 — Excerpt:
She has not held a full-time job in years, has not run for even the lowliest office, and has promoted such noncontroversial causes as patriotism, poetry and public service. Yet Caroline Kennedy’s decision to ask Gov. David A. Paterson to appoint her to Hillary Rodham Clinton’s Senate seat suggests that she believes she is as well prepared as anyone to serve as the next senator from New York – and is ready to throw her famously publicity-averse self into the challenge of winning back-to-back elections in 2010 and 2012.
Already, some columnists, bloggers and even potential colleagues in Congress have begun asking if she would be taken seriously if not for her surname. Representative Gary Ackerman, a Queens Democrat, told a radio host on Wednesday that he did not know what Ms. Kennedy’s qualifications were, “except that she has name recognition – but so does J. Lo.”
Aside from a 22-month, three-day-a-week stint as director of strategic partnerships for the New York City schools, her commitments generally involve nonprofit boards: the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund Inc., the American Ballet Theater, the Commission on Presidential Debates and the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation.
Very bold words by official union-card-carrying journalist Halbfinger. He goes so far as to point to carefully unnamed “columnists, bloggers and even potential colleagues in Congress” who have — bravely, in the spirit of our forefathers — “begun asking if she would be taken seriously if not for her surname.” What an incisive question! How deeply does reporter Halbfinger dig to find answers?
But friends and associates say that Ms. Kennedy, 51, is no dilettante, and that her career is replete with examples of the kind of hands-on policy work and behind-the-scenes maneuvering that could serve her well.
Last spring, she joined the search committee for a new director of the Harvard University Institute of Politics, where she and Senator Edward M. Kennedy, her uncle, are members of an advisory panel. The university wanted a big-name politician. But Ms. Kennedy argued for someone who would view the post as a career maker, not a career ender, others involved said.
Her choice was Bill Purcell, a two-term Nashville mayor. Her uncle, whose voice carried the greatest weight on the board, had fallen ill with brain cancer, and might have gone in a different direction, one insider said. But over six weeks, she patiently made her case and eventually won over members of the institute’s board and Harvard officials.
“She’s not shy about pushing people in a direction, and very good at doing it in a way that people don’t even realize they’re being pushed,” said Heather Campion, one board member.
As one might expect, she is also the consummate insider: When Rupert Murdoch’s young daughter was applying to the Brearley School, Ms. Kennedy, a board member who had attended the school and sent her two daughters there, wrote a letter of recommendation, a News Corporation spokeswoman confirmed.
Ms. Kennedy’s work with the city’s public schools has won much attention, but has not been widely understood. Hired in October 2002 (her $1 salary meant she did not have to fill out financial disclosure forms) to overhaul the schools’ private fund-raising, she took on a haphazard operation and gave it a new mission: privately raising seed money to test new reforms, while trying to persuade New Yorkers to get involved in the schools in meaningful ways.
More views about the coronation of another Kennedy
“The Lure of Royalty“, Steve Chapman, Reason, 18 December 2008 — “Is Caroline Kennedy actually qualified for the U.S. Senate?” Excerpt:
New York Gov. David Paterson wants to appoint a senator distinguished by global star appeal, a long family tradition of public service, royal bloodlines, and obvious availability, it’s easy to think of the perfect candidate. Caroline Kennedy? That’s setting his sights too low. If I were him, I’d put in a call to the Prince of Wales.
Really, what assets does Jack Kennedy’s daughter have that the son of Elizabeth II doesn’t? Both owe their prominence entirely to their ancestry. Both are immensely rich thanks to the sacrifices and achievements of people who went before. Both have often represented their families at the funerals of prominent people. Neither has ever had to stress about finding a job, meeting a payroll, or keeping government functions going during a budget crisis. And here’s the most newsworthy similarity: Both expect to attain a high office without the bother of having to submit themselves to the voters. And both will probably get their way.
Kennedy is a well-spoken, pleasant woman who is indistinguishable from many other rich folks who would never be considered for a seat in the nation’s highest elected body. Indistinguishable, that is, except for her name, which in some minds confers magical powers denied to ordinary mortals. If she had been born Caroline Kelly, no one would indulge her expressed desire to become a United States senator. But because of her pedigree, Paterson appears to think she’s doing him a favor instead of the other way around.
… In the Kennedy case, of course, not everyone would agree that Caroline’s Uncle Ted has been a boon to the nation during his years in the Senate-quite the contrary, since he has long been one of the most liberal lawmakers on Capitol Hill. That’s without even taking into consideration the minor matter of Mary Jo Kopechne, the young woman he killed in a mysterious car wreck in 1969.
Other Kennedys have fallen short in office. Joe Kennedy, son of Robert, was known as a telegenic lightweight during his time in the House of Representatives. Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.), son of Ted, has made news mostly with his drug use and traffic accidents. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, daughter of Robert, was elected lieutenant governor of Maryland, but in 2002 managed the feat of becoming the first Democrat in more than three decades to lose a governor’s race in that state.
So what kind of Kennedy would Caroline be? Beats me. One way to find out would be to let her run for some entry-level office where she could learn the trade and make her quota of beginner mistakes without doing much harm. But she apparently feels no obligation to show she’s up to the job before taking the oath.
You could say the same about her predecessor, Hillary Clinton, who had never held elective office before. But Clinton at least gave the citizens of New York the chance to assess her qualifications before ascending. Kennedy sees no need for such tedium.
“Panel on Caroline Kennedy’s Political Ambition“, Special Report with Brit Hume, 16 December 2008 — Excerpt, remarks by Charles Krauthammer:
It’s not a question of experience. You often get inexperienced candidates who come out of nowhere. You get rich businessmen and the occasional actor or sports star. It’s a question of entitlement. The only thing she has that makes her somebody to even be considered for this office is pedigree. I mean, I hate to be a good government scold, but I would think that one of the reasons for the American experiment is to abolish the idea of government by pedigree.
Now, of course, we have in history – the Adams and the Harrisons, the Rockefellers, the Kennedys and the Bushes. But it seems a bit of an epidemic these days.
First of all, you have a senate stacked with plutocrats as a result of our campaign finance laws, which give an enormous advantage to anyone who is a rich. They run, and the opponent has to grubbily raise money, and you end up with a sizable number of very rich people coming out of nowhere in the Senate.
And what you also have is what we saw, as you said in the Kennedy case, where John Kennedy had his college roommate, Ben Smith II, sit in his seat until two years later until Teddy was old enough and had reached the age of 30 when he inherited it.
And Biden has done exactly that in Delaware. He has gotten a family retainer appointed now to the Biden seat who will keep it warm and will not run again when in two years the Biden son, who is not in Iraq, will return and take that seat.
Look, Caroline Kennedy is a worthy socialite. But if she wants it, she should run and not accept an appointment. It is OK to run on pedigree, but do it in an election and not in an appointment.
While this is more evidence that despair and resignation are the wisest courses of action, we can take heart at one aspect of this affair. When the latest of an endless succession of Senator Kennedy’s take office, we can look forward to the public seppukuby the Democratic Party officials who criticized Gov Palin. Palin is far better qualified than socialite Kennedy for any public office. Their shame will be such that mere apologies will not suffice.
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Post on the FM site about American politics:
- The USA *after* this financial crisis – part I, about politics, 13 October 2008
- What happens to the Republican Party after the election?, 2 November 2008
- Migration from the south into America: new people, new foods, new political systems, 4 November 2008
- America’s elites reluctantly impose a client-patron system, 5 November 2008
- Immigration as a reverse election: our leaders get a new people, 6 November 2008
- R.I.P., G.O.P. – a well-deserved end, 7 November 2008
- America gets ready for new leadership (or is it back to the future?), 14 November 2008
- Conservative reflections about America – starting to use their time in the wilderness to think, 15 November 2008
- Lilliput or America – who has a better way to choose its leaders?, 19 November 2008
- Conservatives should look back before attempting to move forward, 5 December 2008
Posts about Gov Palin:
- McCain believes we are stupid. Is he correct?, 30 August 2008 — What does choosing Palin say about McCain? Esp note the intense discussion in the comments.
- Alaska is near Russia, and Gov Palin’s other foreign policy experience, 1 September 2008
- It’s is not just McCain who believes we’re dumb – it’s a crowd, 3 September 2008
- Governor Palin as an archetype for our time, 9 September 2008
- Before we reignite the cold war, what happened in Georgia?, 12 September 2008 — Notes from Palin’s first interview.
- Stratfor says that our war in Pakistan grows hotter; Palin seems OK with that, 12 September 2008 — More from the ABC interview.
- Campaign Update – news from the front, 25 September 2008 — Includes part 1 of Couric’s interview of Palin.
- Gov Palin speaks about foreign policy, 26 September 2008 — Part 2 of Couric’s interview.
- A comment about “turkey-gate”, 23 November 2008
8 thoughts on “The Democrats believe we are stupid. Are they correct?”
While I don’t know enough to advocate specifically for or against Ms. Kennedy, I would like to suggest that experience, in times of drastic change, can be a handicap rather than an asset. Experience generally teaches us to see through yesterday’s lens and do what worked last time. In a fluid environment (which will almost certainly be the prevailing reality for the remainder of our lives) that is not necessarily the best course, and may well be dangerous. (Can you say, ‘rumsfeld’?)
I would much prefer someone who can learn, unlearn and relearn to someone with traditional political experience. I would argue that the qualities we need today are objectivity, adaptability, comfort with paradox and ambiguity, and the capacity to deal with unstructured problems in a systematic manner. As Eric Hoffer put it so nicely, “In times of change, the learners will inherit the earth while the learned are beautifully equipped for a world that no longer exists.”
I find the American love of dynasties (most recently, Kennedy/Bush/Clinton/Daly/Cuomo, etc etc) a clear indicator of the disturbing preference for nepotism over democracy. Caroline Kennedy is merely an especially insulting example, since she doesn’t even have to stand for election to get the political silver spoon.
I think I’m starting to see the big picture. The past ten years was our “Roaring Twenties”, and now, in a Great Gatsby sort of way, in waltzes Caroline Kennedy, just in time to auger in another Great Depression.
Given its performance over the past eight years or so, reasonable minds may question whether being US Senator really does require all that much by way of qualifications ( however defined ).
In which event, why not Caroline? Even though I do agree that the People magazine approach to American life encapsules much of that which ails us.
In any event, if we were to bar nincompoops from the Senate, who amongst those already there would you retain?
Fabius Maximus replies: This expresses the most common view of the matter, that Ms. Kennedy will do as well as anyone else. As does the frequently expressed complaints about how poorly America is governed. Perhaps the former explains the latter, at least in part.
You concluded so perfectly: we can look forward to the public seppuku by the Democratic Party officials who criticized Gov Palin. Palin is far better qualified than socialite Kennedy for any public office. Their shame will be such that mere apologies will not suffice.
I actually AM looking forward to it, and hope that Sarah can use the hypocrisy label on most of her critics. Sarah was qualifed by virtue of running for prior office, and achieving in prior offices and in gov’t jobs. More qualified than Obama (tho he’s doing far better than I feared, so far).
Caroline K. might well do fine, but she hasn’t shown any willingness to actually run, before.
Actually, Jack Kennedy wasn’t all that “qualified” when he ran for president – and Abraham Lincoln certainly was not.
This is no justification for Caroline – and let’s concede at the onset that the Kennedy “mystic,” “dynasty,” “royalty” routine is twaddle – to put it nicely.
But the Palin analogy does not hold up. And this has nothing to do with “qualifications.” The point is that she was a complete unknown – a wild card ( and we still don’t know about Troopergate ); while Caroline has been in the public eye all her life – virtues and flaws a matter of readily available, well known public record.
So we can meaningfully discuss her in a way that we could not and – to some extent – still cannot discuss Palin.
And that really is stupid.
Mrs. Clinton had extremely thin credentials when the good people of New York examined her carpetbag and sent her to the Senate 8 years ago. In many respects she proved to be a fairly good legislator. Personal qualities seem to count for a lot more than experience, so I’ll withhold judgment on the Kennedy tidal wave.
Liberals are pissed off about Kennedy’s likely promotion as well. More than a couple of people, on blogs I read, have expressed the same frustration with this apparent nepotism that FM is evidently feeling.
To me it seems related to a wider culture of impunity and entitlement in the US senate, the same culture which enabled Joe Lieberman to hold on to his position as Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee despite a total lack of performance. The buzzwords “civility” and “bipartisanship” are, in my mind, euphemistic ways of describing this culture of impunity and entitlement.