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Much Ado About Caroline

I find fascinating all the hyperventilating over the possibility of Princess Caroline becoming Senator Caroline--particularly the way objections are being discussed in grand, even moral terms.

America doesn't do political dynasties!

She hasn't earned the job. Not only has she not paid the requisite dues before now, this seat will simply be handed to her!

The Kennedys think they're entitled!

She has no experience with the political life and will be terrible at the job!

Not to nitpick, but of course America does political dynasties: Bayh, Biden, Bush, Clinton, Cuomo, Daley, Dole...If you've got an hour to kill, check out Wikipedia's massive entry on U.S. political families, alphabetically subdivided. 


Let's face it, all rich, well-connected, powerful people kinda think they’re entitled to whatever they want. Michael Bloomberg wanted to be Mayor of New York. Jon Corzine wanted to be a Senator—then governor.  Perennial failure George W. Bush wanted to be governor, then President. Arnold and Jesse wanted to be governors. Life is just more fun and opportunity-filled when you’re rich and famous. Deal with it.

The practical political experience issue doesn't impress me overly when it comes to congress, because there are so many other factors to consider: personality, smarts, intellectual curiosity, integrity, the ability to raise great, filthy wads of cash... Even without having served 12 years on the House rules committee, Caroline would likely fit in just fine in the Senate and swiftly master its bizarre rules and traditions. 

That said, while I don't see Senator Caroline as a threat--or even an affront--to the republic, neither does the idea make my heart go pitter patter. Not because she's unqualified or entitled or a nepotistic threat to democracy or any of that. I'm simply weary of the entire Kennedy myth (and, by extension, the family)--as I suspect are most people under the age of 50. For all their glamour and mystique, the Kennedys embody the past. Which is fine, but they tend to make the older generation get all mushy and misty-eyed and sentimental about a golden age that was never really all that golden. Time to move on, folks. The theme du jour is "Change," remember?

The WaPo's Ruth Marcus suggested that rooting for America's princess to write a new, happier chapter to her fairy tale was a "girly" impulse. I disagree. I think it's a Boomerish and pre-Boomerish impulse. Falling into neither of those categories, I find the whole fairy tale--and Americans' obsession with it--tiresome. So while I'm sure Caroline is a lovely woman and would make a perfectly solid Senator, you will excuse me for wishing that she had chosen to stick with her heretofore very private life. 

 --Michelle Cottle