Senator Sweet Caroline?

With Hillary Clinton resigning from her Senate seat for an appointment as Secretary of State, speculation has already begun as to whom New York Governor David Paterson will appoint to replace her.  Bill Clinton removed himself from the running earlier this week, but new speculation has another dynasty member as a potential candidate.  Caroline Kennedy, the publicity-shy daughter of martyred President John Kennedy, involved herself in Barack Obama’s campaign and may get the nod:

Another Senator Kennedy?  The crazy speculation about Hillary Clinton’s Senate seat may not be so crazy after all.  A Democrat who would know tells ABC News that New York governor David Paterson has talked to Caroline Kennedy about taking the seat, which was once held by her uncle, Robert F. Kennedy.  It’s not exactly shocking that Paterson would reach out to one of the most highly respected public figures in New York, but this is:  Sources say Kennedy is considering it, and has not ruled out coming to Washington to replace Hillary Clinton in the Senate.

A few years ago, the famously private Caroline Kennedy would be the last Kennedy expected to serve in Congress, but of course, she took on a much more high-profile role during the presidential campaign and, if she does it, would be more than New York’s junior Senator; she’d have closer ties to the Obama White House than any of her colleagues, a direct line to the East Wing.

When Robert Kennedy, Jr. took himself out of the running for the seat earlier this week, he told Jonathan Hicks of the New York Times, “Caroline Kennedy would be the perfect choice if she would agree to it.”  And one more thing:  We hear that President-elect Obama has made it clear that he thinks Caroline Kennedy would be a great choice.

Any choice would be better than Bill Clinton, as I wrote over the holidays.  But Caroline Kennedy hasn’t worked in the public sphere at all prior to Obama’s campaign.  What specifically besides her last name makes her more qualified to represent New York than people already elected to office by the people of the state?

It appears that people want to settle for name brands rather than appoint or vote for people of substance.  That argument can certainly be made with Barack Obama, but the name-brand impulse precedes him by decades.  Both parties indulge in it.  The Bushes have three generations in national politics, and more on the way.  The Kennedys have four, and counting.  The Clintons only have one, but they’ve managed to make it work for twenty years, and Chelsea’s waiting in the wings.  She might have gotten considered for this opening except for the age requirement.

Although the Cuomos have a dynasty going in the state of New York, one might think Andrew Cuomo would make a better choice.  At least Cuomo ran for an office and has a track record on public policy, even if we disagree with it.  Instead of looking for publicity stunts, Paterson would be better advised to find people who have built a record on policy and have at least some concrete evidence of backing from the people of the state.  We already have too many beginners at the top level of national politics.