Monday, December 29, 2008

A Palin Imitation

So, as it turns out, even the NY Times comes away from the Caroline phenomenon quite underwhelmed: "After weeks of criticism that she had not opened up to the public or the press, Ms. Kennedy has embarked on a series of interviews. But in an extensive sit-down discussion Saturday morning with The New York Times, she still seemed less like a candidate than an idea of one: forceful but vague, largely undefined and seemingly determined to remain that way."

So, absent any resume to recommend her, Kennedy can't even articulate any strong opinions-or how she differs, if she does, from any of the standard Democratic Party talking points: "Ms. Kennedy, 51, has had only a few weeks to think through a platform and a message, and she has already taken positions on issues like same-sex marriage, which she supports, and school vouchers, which she opposes. But in the interview on Saturday, she said she hoped to be a consensus-builder, and declined to describe her positions on some other pressing public issues — even in an area like education, where she has some expertise. Ms. Kennedy would not say, for example, whether she supported proposals to abolish tenure for teachers and offer them merit pay instead."

She's gotta be kidding! And she was apparently unwilling or unable to expand on how her limited experience qualified her for the US Senate-in what would amount to her first real job: "She provided only the broadest of rationales for her candidacy for one of the most storied Senate seats in the country, saying her experience as a mother, author and school fund-raiser, her commitment to public service and her deep political connections had prepared her for the job."

This is really beyond ridiculous-and Paterson should move to shut the silliness down as soon as possible; although to her credit, in her Times interview she actually touted the virtue of running for an office: "At one point, she said that it might have been preferable to seek the seat in an election, noting that “it would give me a chance to explain exactly what I’m doing, why I would want to do this, and, you know, to get people to know me better and to understand exactly what my plans would be, how hard I would work.”

So, what we would advise Kennedy to do, is withdraw; and prepare to challenge the governor's eventual choice by taking her candidacy to the voters in 2010. As Michael Goodwin wrote yesterday, the current farce needs to end: "But a strange thing is happening on the way to the coronation. The wheels of the bandwagon are coming off. Fantasy is giving way to inescapable truth. That truth is that Kennedy is not ready for the job and doesn't deserve it. Somebody who loves her should tell her."

And, in the same vein, Jennifer Rubin eviscerates Kennedy in her "Princess Diaries" commentary: "But these individual missteps stem from a central problem: she is an unserious candidate running at a serious time for a real office. New York, perhaps more acutely and immediately than the rest of the country, is feeling the impact of the financial
meltdown...Governor Paterson has every reason to spare his party and state from the mockery that is sure to follow should he elevate Caroline to the Senate. I’m sure he or President-elect Obama could come up with some suitably untaxing position in which she can fulfill her lifelong dream (a sort of repressed memory which recently surfaced) to serve in political office. Or, she could spend some time learning about her state and the nation’s issues, supporting other politicians and learning how to campaign for office.

What New York doesn't need for the vacant senate is an unaccomplished and platitude-spouting cipher who can seek occasional refuge in a $50 million Martha's Vineyard mansion. More and more, we're leaning to the Hammond Doctrine: the governor should appoint a placeholder and leave the ultimate choice here to the voters in two years.