Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Right Office for Caroline Kennedy

Writing about her withdrawal from seeking Hillary Clinton's Senate seat, I committed a journalistic sin--burying the lead.

The last sentence was: "The Obama Administration should ask her to serve as ambassador to Great Britain (as her grandfather did) or France or Ireland, where her intelligence and instincts, along with her Kennedy and Bouvier background, could be an important American asset."

This self-rebuke arises after reading the new New Yorker piece about Caroline Kennedy, which sheds no light on the reasons for her decision but is a reminder of how much she is like her mother:

"It was, evidently, Jacqueline Kennedy’s intention to raise children who were as unaffected as possible by the extraordinary circumstances of their lives, and it seems that she succeeded: Caroline Kennedy’s life has in many ways been indistinguishable from that of any other smart and reasonably diligent child raised on Fifth Avenue in the nineteen-sixties."

Back then, Caroline's widowed mother was taking her children to the playgrounds of Central Park herself and, on one occasion, warning her brother John not to ram into one of mine while careening down a slide.

The year after JFK's death, I asked Jacqueline Kennedy to become a contributing editor of McCalls. She was still too deep in mourning, but when she talked about wanting to find a way to keep alive her husband's "ideas and ideals," she could conceive of doing that only through someone else with a more public persona.

"Robert Kennedy would be perfect," she said, "but that's not possible."

In her lifetime since then, Caroline Kennedy has been her mother's child, with public service for good causes behind the scenes on boards and collecting best-selling anthologies of poems and essays, not by herself but others.

The right place for her now is not out glad-handing in the "Me, me, me" atmosphere of the US Senate but helping the most public person of our era by representing him--and us--as a gracious ambassador to a generation of Europeans who have never known what it is like to love an American president.


Anonymous said...

My personal opinion is that Caroline can do more good without an 'official' title.
It also looks like (from the little REAL facts we apparently know about it) she was pushed into the N.Y. fiasco.

Mike said...

I think a diplomatic post would be perfect for Caroline Kennedy. Maybe after that she could run for elected office.

Anonymous said...

Well, you just believe that because she was raised in NYC -- not "upstate" -- that she's just fine, don't you? Good grief, talk about hero worship. She was unprepared, unqualified and idiotic. I read the New Yorker piece and it did her no favors at all, instead, making it seem as though she, and just about everyone she knows, is pretentious and elitist.

elo said...

I didn't read the New Yorker article yet, but I did read the NY Mag article, which presented the best ideas I've read so far as to what Caroline's personal reasons were for withdrawing (realizing the amount of public scrutiny just wasn't worth it..and that she was at least not prepared for the position in the terms of her presentation of herself to reporters). -Unfortuantely, this is just a bleep at the end of the meandering piece..

On his marketing blog, John Tantillo analyzed Caroline's candidacy from a branding position just before the new year--predicting that she would not only be Senator but also the first female President.

I wonder if she's out for good or will throw her hat in the ring again later...perhaps after a lot of work with a speech coach?

Tantillo's full post