Sunday, December 7, 2008

Are People Who Don't Want Caroline Kennedy in the Senate Tone Deaf to the Cosmos?

My post about why NY Governor Paterson should appoint Caroline Kennedy to be the next US Senator from New York has encountered various kinds of opposition on Facebook, Open Salon, and MySpace - by no means a majority of commentators, but a significant number - so I thought I'd say a little more about why this seems to me such a manifestly and self-evidently good idea.

I'm tempted to say that people who don't feel this way are tone-deaf to the cosmos. But I know that some who oppose this idea are not, and, besides, those kinds of characterizations are not likely to impress anyone unless they already agree with me.

So let me try, instead, to unpack this a little more.

It's not just Caroline Kennedy's name, exactly, that I think would make her appointment to the Senate so appropriate. It's whose daughter she is, and how Americans came to know her when JFK was in the White House. I can't picture 1961-1963, and what I saw and still see of it on television, without Caroline at her father's side, or somewhere close to him, and therefore to us.

That's what I mean about correcting the cosmos, and what was taken from us in the 1960s, by appointing Caroline Kennedy to the Senate.

But if that was the sum total of why I thought she should be in the US Senate from New York, that wouldn't be enough. I wouldn't endorse making anyone a Senator, just on the basis of their 3-to-6-year old self having been in our hearts all of these years, even Caroline Kennedy.

So there's also this: Caroline Kennedy played a crucial role in the election of Barack Obama. She came out, stepped up, and powerfully endorsed him at a time when his victory in the Democratic primaries, and his Democratic nomination for President, was far from certain. She did not have to do that - did not have to risk her name and reputation by attaching it to someone who might not have gone much further, if the close primary battles had turned out a little differently.

But Caroline Kennedy did step forth, and that showed both political courage and acumen. She is not just JFK's daughter - she is someone who clearly has inherited her father's wisdom and political bravery.

That's why it's so clear to me that having Caroline Kennedy in the Senate would not only help heal a very deep cosmic wound, but would put an outstanding person at the service of our country.

See also: Righting the Cosmos: Why Caroline Kennedy Should Hillary's Seat in US Senate

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