Here’s the thing. Caroline Kennedy, currently waging a solid campaign to take Hillary Clinton’s soon-to-be-vacated Senate seat, is a lot like Sarah Palin: not such a bad idea when you consider the alternatives. Analysts and anonymous Republican staffers may hold Palin single handedly accountable for the downfall of John McCain’s presidential campaign, but that criticism discounts how much sway she had over the conservative base in November’s election — and how little any other nominee could have changed the results of the 2008 vote. Other rumored candidates for the VP slot — Joe Lieberman, Elizabeth Dole, or Kay Bayley Hutchison — may have earned more polite commentary from the media, but a respectable loss is still a loss.The choice of Sarah Palin was a Hail Mary pass, considered more for its potential upside than its risks. McCain knew he needed something to cut into the growing tide of support for Obama. Plus, she riled up the conservative base that loves God, guns, and unborn fetuses. And it almost worked. Had Palin excelled in her public appearances and encounters with Katie Couric, her short tenure as governor would have lost significance.
But Republican strategists miscalculated the importance of experience, thinking that Obama opened the door for other candidates with short resumes. But Palin, unlike Obama, lacked the perception of preparedness.
Caroline Kennedy’s flubbed political debut has earned a fair amount of press for the same reason. Considering her long life in the public eye, it seems that her entrance into politics might have been a bit better thought out. Instead, even The New York Times spent time in December counting her usage of the phrase “you know” in speeches.
She doggedly refuses to layout her political opinions, but if there’s one thing the legacy of Camelot has left us is a long paper trail of consistently liberal politics. Unlike Palin, who terrified people with her proximity to the presidency, a Kennedy appointment is likely to ensure two years of predictably liberal efforts by the place filler Senator, hand held by the leaders of the Democratic party. In two years, her efforts will be up for a popular vote.
The biggest attribute to her appointment would likely be how few people she would owe for the position. Unlike the favor dealing that her grandfather traded in, and the sort that is pretty typical of governance today, Kennedy would only be beholden to Governor Paterson, and only until she got to the Senate.
But more importantly, all the talk of inexperience and “you knows” has left a gaping hole for a qualified candidate to step up. But the best we’ve been offered is Andrew Cuomo and two lackluster state representatives. Yawn. If there’s a better option, let him or her please step forward … seriously. Bueller? Bueller?