Caroline Kennedy may be in negotiations to take over Hillary Clinton's seat in the Senate, according to ABC News. While Kennedy hashes out the appointment with New York Governor David Paterson, we're revisiting TNR senior editor Michelle Cottle's profile of Kennedy and of her involvement with the Obama campaign.
It doesn't take a strategy expert to grasp why Obama has carved out such a prominent role for her. She is a Kennedy. She is a woman. Better still, up to this point she has largely steered clear of the unseemly business of electoral politics. Instead, she has nurtured the family legacy by quietly tending the memories of others: first dad, then mom, and even brother John. In a family full of paparazzi magnets, self-promoters, and aspiring political stars, Kennedy Schlossberg has long glowed softly in the minds of many as the Great Custodian--an eternally gracious, dignified, selfless link to a purer, more buoyant political age.
But this alliance may be an even shrewder move for Kennedy Schlossberg than for Obama. It's been 45 years since the fall of Camelot, and the family brand has begun to fade. A growing portion of the electorate was born after the deaths of John and Bobby and has a tough time relating to the Kennedy fixation of its elders. Under such conditions, what's a committed custodian of the family legacy to do? Hitch her clan's wagon to the hottest political star in decades. With a little luck, even as that old Camelot magic rubs off on Obama, the candidate's energy and relevance will help sustain the Kennedy brand for a little longer. If that means Kennedy Schlossberg must surrender her cherished privacy to suffer through unflattering media cycles and self-conscious stump speeches (memo to the campaign: urge her not to try a fist pump again--ever), then so be it. For JFK's daughter, preserving the family legacy has always come first. And, as the last few months have shown, she's pretty darn good at it--or, at least, better than her reputation as a political naif would suggest.