The normally sensible Ed Koch indulged in some revealing Kennedy gushing yesterday to support the idea that Governor David Paterson should appoint a novice to the US Senate on the basis of her last name. He urged Paterson to “think of the DNA” as a qualifier for selecting Caroline Kennedy as a replacement for Hillary Clinton in the US Senate (via Q&O):
Former NYC Mayor Ed Koch told CBS 2 HD he was won over after she called him and asked to talk about the office.
“When you look at her, and you know what the Kennedy’s are capable of and you know the family she comes from … think of the DNA,” Koch said.
At one time, and it’s starting to seem like a long time ago, Americans eschewed the idea that certain people deserved a life of privilege because of their pedigree. This country has never recognized a system of nobility, certainly not in the manner Koch and others have suggested over the last couple of weeks stewing over Caroline Kennedy’s quest for a sinecure. We have always heralded the fact that our system allows people of modest origins to achieve on the basis of talent, determination, and hard work — all of which are antithetical to the kind of royalty Koch inadvertently endorses here.
After all, what basis did absolute monarchs claim credibility? They saw themselves anointed by God as descendants of previous rulers. Power was in their DNA, too.
Jonah Goldberg blasts the Sweet Caroline gushers:
One could say without fear of overstating things that the liberal reaction to the inexperienced Caroline has been somewhat more gracious than the reaction to the “inexperienced” Palin. Ruth Marcus of the Washington Post has devoted two columns in as many weeks to this “fairy tale” scenario in which Kennedy, our “tragic national princess,” is finally rewarded — for her years of quiet dignity, selflessly avoiding scandal and the paparazzi — with the Senate seat that once belonged to her uncle Bobby. What’s astounding about the normally sensible Marcus’s case for “the Cinderella Kennedy” (New York magazine’s phrase) is that she doesn’t really make one, at least not on the merits. Marcus doesn’t even bother. It’s all schoolgirl gushing.
The editors of the New York Times, in a more skeptical editorial, summarized her qualifications thusly: “Ms. Kennedy has much going for her. As a public figure, she carries the glamour and poignancy of her family …” The editors then went on to describe what great liberals her dad and uncles were. That’s it.
This a perfect example of the bowel-stewing self-indulgence of elite liberalism.
Kathleen Parker, fresh off of her eviscerations of Sarah Palin for her inexperience and unreadiness, denies that she’s applying a double standard — and again falls back on DNA:
In Kennedy’s case, those actors would be senators, not heads of other, potentially belligerent, nations. If appointed, she would be a single vote among 100 and otherwise a placeholder until 2010, when she would have to run for election as any other.
Palin, who one could argue was similarly anointed — cynically selected without proper vetting — was headed for much bigger business. As vice president, she would have been a heartbeat away from The Button, though she would not have been “in charge of the U.S. Senate,” as she told a child who asked what the vice president does.
Critics on the other side of the political aisle may have had other reasons to oppose Palin (such as her pro-life position), but the loyal opposition was firmly based on substantive concerns about competence, as well as wariness about her tone and temperament, which became increasingly divisive.
Palin’s demonstrated lack of basic knowledge, her intellectual incuriosity, her inability to articulate ideas or even simple thoughts all combined to create an impression of not-quite-there.
So the Senate isn’t important enough to demand someone qualified — or at least someone who deigns to answer press questions about it? The WCBS report linked above reports mainly on the frustration from the media about how the political princess with all that terrific DNA won’t answer questions. How’s that for tone, temperament, and substance? Palin spoke with the press and actually ran something other than a typewriter for several years, serving in government for more than a decade.
And I’d suggest that Kathleen check the Constitution. The Vice President actually does preside over the US Senate, even if that practice has fallen out of custom in the last few decades. Article I, section 3. You can look it up.
If Caroline Kennedy wants to be a Senator, then she should run for the office and try to convince voters to support her by engaging in the political process, not demand an appointment to avoid the hoi polloi. Paterson has a constitutional duty to appoint the most qualified person to the seat, not the person who can raise the most money for Democrats. None of the Sweet Caroline Gushing Choir can point to a single qualification (other than DNA) that Kennedy has in greater quantity than the hundreds of New Yorkers who have already involved themselves in the political process and who could actually hit the ground running in Washington DC.
Appointing a candidate to the US Senate on the basis of their last name alone is more than just a betrayal of that duty to act in the best interest of New York. In a significant way, it goes against everything America is supposed to represent. Ed Koch and David Paterson should know better, and the media gushers should as well. Will New York start issuing titles of nobility to their dynastic clans as well?