Nothing more than celebrities from either the world of politics or the world of entertainment. A name is not a qualification for office although name recognition is most certainly a huge advantage.
Truth be told, none of these people are any more qualified for high political office than you, me or that lawyer behind the tree. The only positive thing that can be said about most, but not all of them is that they are not attorneys. Their names are their advantage, not their talents. In fact, it may be the final measure of how far our system of governance has degenerated to have a United States Senate candidate like Al Franken still in contention for a seat in that formerly august body. Seating Franken would be, on a number of levels, a real joke.
The article below examines the prospects of Caroline Kennedy as the next Senator from the State of New York, so designated by appointment, not election. The fact is that she is no more or less qualified than any of the long time hack pols that have served in Congress for decades.
It is rather amusing that some of them denounce her potential appointment based upon her lack of experience. Should we note that constantly being reelected to Congress is absolutely no qualification to serve either? It not only is not a special qualification, but a case can easily be made that once someone has served a term or two, they should automatically be disqualified from returning to office. Familiarity does, in fact, breed contempt, not to mention corruption, dishonesty and a serious disconnect from constituents which often coincides with an ever more beneficial association with lobbyists, special interests and identity groups.
Ms. Kennedy could serve as well as anyone else. And that is the most important point. Our form of governance was originally designed to be based upon public service provided by citizen legislators. There was no special emphasis on a need for attorneys, political royal families, celebrities or professional career politicians. We have sort of evolved in that direction over time and, as a result, we now find ourselves facing a failure of government on all levels in this country. Very few of the people we elect to serve the best interests of the nation and the people do so. Instead they more often than not serve themselves.
The Kennedy clan is one of our political royal families. Anyone who can list the reasons why the Kennedy's are irreplaceable, raise your hands. Like all politicians, they come and they go, leaving behind them nothing that could not have been accomplished by others. Caroline Kennedy just might make an excellent Senator but so would millions of other New Yorkers. She has no special credentials or amazing powers. As a matter of fact, she is somewhat suspect since she chose not to run for the office via the regular elective process but she does seek to be appointed to the office, a much easier and less intrusive path to follow.
America, we all need to get past the idea that celebrities, political royalty, professional career politicians or entertainers are required in order to conduct the business of government. As we know all to well, they are not very good at it. In reality, we not only do not need them, they have screwed things up beyond any one's wildest expectations.
What we need is concerned, engaged and dedicated Americans, interested in the greater good, who would be willing to serve only a term or two and thereafter return to their prior lives and careers, making way for the next generation of citizen legislators. NO Schwartzenegger, NO Cuomo, NO Franken, NO Kennedy, NO Bush, NO Clinton and most especially NO-NO-NO-NO professional career politicians.
Caroline Kennedy's credentials debated in Senate bid
By David M. Halbfinger
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 Governor 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 New York Democrat, told a radio host on Wednesday that he did not know what 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.
But friends and associates say that 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 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, 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.
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.
A rock concert in Central Park raised $2 million; a tag sale there drew tens of thousands of bargain hunters. (Some of them, unwittingly, walked off with evening bags that had belonged to her mother, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, according to Ann Moore, the chief executive of Time Inc., which sponsored the event.) By the time she left in August 2004, she had raised more than $70 million for an academy to train reform-minded principals. Nearly 200 city school principals are graduates, the majority in high-poverty schools.
Schools Chancellor Joel Klein credited her with bringing in a $51 million gift from Bill Gates's foundation despite lingering ill will over Klein's battles with Microsoft while he was at the Justice Department.
"She's good in the room, but she's also good at getting people to focus and come together quickly," Klein said. . Kennedy is now vice chairwoman of the schools' nonprofit fund-raising arm, but she continues to visit schools across the city, with no entourage or press aide.
Indeed, one of the more interesting hurdles Kennedy faces would be in telling her story to voters, and to interviewers. Like her mother, she has carefully guarded her privacy.
Yet Kennedy spent about six weeks barnstorming battleground states for Barack Obama and took to it with gusto: An aide recalled her strolling into a Republican headquarters near Ocala, Florida, and peppering voters with questions at every turn.
But in brief interviews during the Democratic National Convention, and on "Meet the Press" after she had helped Obama vet his potential running mates, Kennedy easily deflected the few serious questions she was asked. She deadpanned to Tom Brokaw that his own name had come up in the vetting. And she dryly told Wolf Blitzer, "I just want to be with the best political team on television as much as I possibly can."
As a candidate or senator, she would presumably have a tougher time dodging questions.
Away from the cameras, Kennedy immersed herself in the vice-presidential search, joining Eric Holder, now Obama's choice for attorney general.
"Eric was the quiet one, and she was the one that, really, when I said something, asked, 'Who? Why? How come?' " said Representative Joe Baca, chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, who met with them to analyze the contenders. "She did most of the talking."
Kennedy also took it upon herself to write a lengthy memo for Obama, a senior campaign adviser said. "I think she sized up the field in a way that was thoughtful and sophisticated and right," he said. "And I think it weighed heavily with him."
True to form, Kennedy declined to be interviewed for this article. But she did cooperate indirectly, freeing a few friends and associates, through an intermediary, to discuss her.
They and several others, described a woman who is surprisingly down to earth: who carried sensible shoes in her bag for the walk home from a dressy event at Tavern on the Green; who declined a lift downtown when caught without an umbrella in a rainstorm, instead heading for the subway in a baseball cap; who does not shirk her periodic safety patrol duty, with its reflective vests and walkie-talkies, as a Collegiate School mom; who is an assiduous e-mailer, if not so fast at returning voice mail; who has a personal assistant, but does not use her as a gatekeeper the way so many not-so-famous people do; and who loves to play Running Charades, a version of the popular parlor game.
"There's nothing at all pretentious about her," said Jane Rosenthal, the co-founder of the Tribeca Film Festival and a longtime friend of Kennedy and her husband, Edwin Schlossberg.
Kennedy has said that it was her children who got her to give Obama a look last year. Elaine Jones, a retired head of the NAACP fund, speculated that Kennedy's children her two daughters are in college and her son is in high school were also the reasons she had not entered public life sooner.
"A fishbowl can adversely affect a child," Jones said. "Her mother found a way to keep her children real. Caroline, I think, wanted that for her children. So I think, without knowing it, subconsciously, she was trying to get her kids to this point."
Copyright © 2008 The International Herald Tribune www.iht.com
Tuesday, December 16, 2008