Caroline Kennedy Attempts To Enter the Family Business

6 01 2009
JFK Jr., Caroline, and the late Jacqueline Kennedy with former President Bill Clinton

JFK Jr., Caroline, and Jackie Kennedy with former President Bill Clinton, 1995


There isn’t anything in the Kennedy family tragedies that entitles Caroline Kennedy to automatically enter the family business at the exalted rank of United States senator from New York.

On the other hand, if she is now offering herself for a period of public service, it’s not as if she doesn’t have a unique understanding of the price of public service, having lost her both her father, John F. Kennedy, and her uncle, Bobby Kennedy, to assassins.

In those circumstances, it’s remarkable that her mother, Jacqueline Kennedy, raised Caroline and her brother John in America, and taught them a love of country. In any circumstances, it’s remarkable that she’s lived a normal life. For her personal narrative is not that of a spoiled child of Camelot making tabloid headlines, but as a career woman and mother avoiding them.

Is she seeking special treatment from New York Governor David Paterson, who will fill the vacancy created this month when Hillary Clinton resigns her Senate seat to become secretary of state in the Obama administration? Well, she’s asking to be considered, and why wouldn’t he consider her? Paterson is himself the scion of a New York political family. Nor was he elected governor – he filled a vacancy last year when his predecessor, the crime-busting Eliot Spitzer, resigned in disgrace after consorting with a call girl. Paterson will be facing election in his own right in 2010, it would do him and the Democrats no harm to have a Kennedy – particularly this Kennedy – on the ticket in the special Senate election. As Jack Kennedy’s only surviving child, she has unique name recognition, and can raise a lot of money, beginning with her own.

Caroline Kennedy with British PM Gordon Brown

Caroline with British PM Gordon Brown

Meanwhile, she’s not seeking an appointment instead of an election, she’s seeking an appointment in the run-up to an election, and somebody must be named to the job. Democracy isn’t being denied in New York, only deferred, and by a process that is perfectly constitutional. In Canada, they’ve been doing it since Confederation. When a dead man was elected to the Senate from Missouri in 2000, the governor appointed his widow to fill the seat. So far as that goes, Paterson could have named Bill Clinton to replace his wife. Clinton would then have become the first former president since John Quincy Adams to go on and serve in the Senate. This would really set tongues wagging about dynastic politics, but no one who knows the Clintons would have been surprised, either.

Is Caroline Kennedy experienced in politics, other than having been virtually born on the campaign trail? Not in the conventional sense. She is apparently guilty of having lived an exemplary and highly successful life outside politics, as a lawyer with a master’s degree, an author and editor, community activist for public education in New York, director of her father’s presidential library and foundation, and mother of three grounded kids.

So, when she briefs up with family retainers before the obligatory round of media interviews, she’s accused of having an entourage. Is she supposed to go out there and look like some sort of clueless Sarah Palin? When she is staffed to handle the New York media, which needs handling, she is accused of having handlers. When she goes on a tour of upstate New York, she’s accused of having roadies run her schedule. You can never make enough allowances for hypocrisy in politics.

As it develops, she supports same-sex marriage, bailouts for New York’s financial services industry, and Israel’s right to exist. She doesn’t know whether her brother, if he hadn’t been killed in a plane crash a decade ago, would have gone into the family business. Her husband and children are OK with the idea and her friend, Barack Obama, has been “encouraging” her candidacy, though not to the point of phoning the governor. There have already been enough issues around the succession for his own Senate seat in Illinois.

Her endorsement of Obama’s candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination, along with her uncle Ted’s, came at a critical moment in the primaries, and was a huge blow to Clinton. Her oped piece in the New York Times suggested Obama inspired hope in the way her father had in another time. She campaigned for Obama across the U.S., and was co-chair of a leak-proof vice-presidential selection process resulting in Joe Biden.

It might be that she is to the manner, as well as the manor, born. Asked the other day whether she was a Kennedy Democrat, she said she was a Kennedy Democrat, an Obama Democrat and a Clinton Democrat.

The girl can play.


Story by L. Ian MacDonald.




7 responses

6 01 2009
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[…] Caroline Kennedy Attempts To Enter the Family Business « RFK Jr. News […]

10 01 2009
maureen ehret

I can’t believe that Caroline is pro-life with all the death that she has seen and lived and felt and gay marriage is horrific. Now it really makes me wonder what Jackie was like. Tell her to get her nose out of those books and go behind the abortion clinics and see the jars with the dead babies or the spread of aids. I have been a devout Jackie follower and admirer all my young and old life and now I hold my head in shame at what a child can do . Caroline, shame on you

17 01 2009

Dear Maureen,

I know I am stupid but I don’t totally understand your comment. Why do you say she should hold her head in shame of what a child can do, and telling Caroline that she should be ashamed of herself?

The first part of your comment is that you accuse Caoline of being pro-life and against gay marriage and then you tell her to go to the abortion clilnics and see the jars of dead babies. As I said I really don’t understand what you are trying to say here.

I actually think Caroline would be a good Senator and have been praying my Rosary that God would protect her and if it is His Will that she would be appointed. I also pray that He will guide her and send good honest people around her that can help her work out the small problems along the way. I pray that she will have true blue and loyal friends who will tell her the truth and want what is best for her and not for their own selfish gains guide her in the wrong direction.

Caroline is smart and educated, she has grown up around politics her whole life and I think we need new blood in the Senate.

I don’t know if you are Catholic but even among Catholics we are divided on the two issues that you mentioned. It is not that anyone is pro-abortion but some Catholics feel that the church doesn’t have the right to tell the government what Law to enact. I personally like men and so I would want a more traditional style of marriage, but do we as Catholics have the right to enforce our beliefs on other Americans who are non Catholic? I know personally I am still seeking how I feel about Laws that seem to go against the teachings of my church. Does this mean I have to be ashamed because I am not sure that we as a church can deny two people who love each other the right to marry ( Just because they are two women or two men) in a civil ceremony? I don’t believe the state should be able to force the church to go against their teachings and be forced to marry people they don’t think should be married, but do we have the right to deny the state from marrying two people who love each other and want to be married?

Do we really reflect the love of Christ and live out the social message of Jesus if we are judging people so harshly? I know what it is liked to be judged harshly and I don’t want to treat others the way I have been treated in this life. I think that we do our faith a dis-service when we harshly judge others who are different than we are and deny them a chance to find happiness in life just because it isn’t in the same way that we want. Do we have the right to deny two people who love each other the right to marry in a Civil Marriage?

18 01 2009
New Frontier


What a deep and thought-provoking comment! Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this question.

Where do I stand on it? Well, I may not be qualified to speak on this topic, because I’m not Catholic.

But I do hold a strong belief in the First Amendment and the separation of church and state. Not to the extremes, though, such as waging costly legal battles to strike words like “so help me God” from the presidential oath of office, or “one nation, under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance, just because some athiest out there might be offended. Sheesh. Total waste of time, money, and energy. We’ve got more important battles to fight…and perhaps, if we’d pull our heads out, George Bush would have been impeached by now. (Oh, and Karl Rove would be in jail!)

To my mind, what the founders intended when they wrote “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;…” was simply asserting that there would be no Church of America, as there was back in England. No national religion would be established here; citizens would not be required to convert to any particular religion as a condition of their citizenship. People would be free to practice thier own faith and go to the church of their choice – or they could choose not to go to any church at all. Congress would not tell the churches what to do; churches would not tell the Congress what to do.

So, applying that literal interpretation of the amendment, I would have to conclude that no church should have the power or the right to restrict members of its’ flock from exercising their civil rights. Whether that right be to abort a child or not to abort a child; to marry or not to marry; or any other right granted to free citizens in the United States of America.

Granted, that is a strictly libertarian, letter-of-the-law interpretation, but it is my firmly held belief. You see, the trouble with churches or governments attempting to restrict the free will of human beings is that it always escalates to tyranny…and the eventual result of tyranny is always rebellion.

Not so unlike the overbearing parent who tries to micromanage every aspect of their children’s lives. The more tyrannical the parent; the more rebellious the child.

Human nature being what it is, people are going to do whatever they are going to do, be it right or wrong. People will fall in love, they will have sex, they will produce children out of wedlock. If these things are not civil crimes, then why should the church have any right to punish people for succumbing to the call of nature? Supposedly we are a higher species of animal than dogs, with an ability to reason and tell right from wrong. (But just read the headlines on any given day and you have to wonder sometimes if that’s really so!) Still, you can’t legislate human behaviour any more than you can get a dog to read and comprehend a book.

To threaten humans with eternal hellfire and damnation for simply being human never made any sense to me. That’s more like a means of control through fear, and this method never works. Human history has proven it time and time again throughout the ages. You can only control people’s behaviour through fear for so long. Eventually, they will wake up and rebel against their controllers, thus rendering the controllers impotent and irrelevant.

And with that, your honor, I respectfully rest my case.

18 01 2009
New Frontier

And now, I’ll let Bobby make his case…

In essence, I think we’re saying the same thing, although Bobby says it far more eloquently than I. He comes from a Catholic perspective, describing here how his hero, Saint Francis, was reacting to fundamentalism of his time:

“Christian fundamentalism, the burning of the library in Alexandria in the year 391, was the beginning of the Dark Ages,” Bobby says. “They were trying to destroy science, destroy mathematics, destroy cartography and destroy knowledge, so that theologians would be able to control what people believed and the flow of information. The fundamentalist’s interpretation of the Bible is really the enemy of religion, and Christ understood that. Christ was constantly condemning the fundamentalists of his own time, who were the Pharisees and the Sadducees, for having burdens for other men to carry. That’s one of his central messages. Francis pointed this out–the way that we get close to Christ is through imitating what he did, by helping others, by being kind to the poor, by being open minded and tolerant, not by looking for a set of rules from the Bible. Many historians credit Francis with bringing an end to the Dark Ages because he told people you don’t need this hierarchy in the church. The Renaissance leaders, like Dante, were Franciscans and Franciscan followers.

“That has a lot of messages for us today because today the biggest threat to civilization is religious fundamentalism, both the Christian right in our country trying to destroy science and impose this kind of know-nothing-ism and a theological state and the Islamic fundamentalism,” Kennedy continues. “Both of them are forms of fascism. They’re more similar to each other than they are to anything else. They both want to subjugate women, impose their own will on every aspect of culture and dominate our religious and political freedom. The central message Saint Francis has for us is that we have to fight this, that religious fundamentalism is not about religion–it’s the end of religion. The central purpose of religion is the search for existential truths. What fundamentalism does is it ends that search, and it tells you, here’s all the truth and the truth is in this text and the way I interpret it. It allows charismatic leaders to dominate and enslave rather than to liberate the human mind.”

— From a 2005 interview with Chicago Life

18 01 2009

Thank you for posting your comments. It is always good to read what another Catholic feels on this topic as we as a church are divided. What makes it so hard for me as a Catholic who loves my church but also believes in the seperation between church and state is that many times we are told we are bad Catholics if we don’t believe in a certain way. I can’t speak for anyone else, but it makes me sad when I see that attitude in the church.

I know in my heart that I love God and want to be a good Catholic, but it seems that sometimes harsh judgement is directed at those Catholics who are trying to search for the answers to the questions through prayer and what their heart tells them. I have known harsh judgement and people have misunderstood me my whole life. I refuse to treat people the way I have been treated. Do we have the right as a church to force people who are not of our faith to live in a ceratin way? Do we show the love of Christ to our fellow Catholics by making them feel ashamed and guilty because maybe they come to another conclusion than another Catholic on the issue of gay marriage?

For me I keep coming back to the answer no, we do not have that right. This is the United States of America and not the United States of Catholic Church. I also believe that Seperation between church and state also protects the church from the state coming in and saying this is what you have to preach and believe as a church. It works both ways. I don’t think that the Catholic Church should be forced to marry people who they don’t want to marry, but that we as Catholics can support the right of Gays to marry in a legal Civil Marriage. The rules of the Catholic church don’t apply to non Catholics so why is it a sin for Catholics to say they support the right of two people (non Catholics) who love each other to marry just because it happens to be two women or two men who want to marry each other?

I know that will make me very unpopular with other Catholics, but we must all seek the answer to this question ourselves and hopefully those other Catholics in our church won’t stone those of us who believe in seperation between church and state, lol.

20 07 2009

She could certainly equal the buffoon teddie. Come to think it my dog could do that. No she is no qualified for any elected office at the moment.

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