Thursday, January 26, 2017

Caroline, Yes?

Ready for more dynasty politics?
John F. Kennedy's daughter Caroline Kennedy, having completed a relatively successful three-year stint as U.S. ambassador to Japan, is now being talked about by New York State Democrats for a run for a U.S. House or Senate seat in 2018 (wait - isn't there a female Democratic U.S. Senator from New York up for re-election then?).  Not only that, she's being mentioned as a possible Democratic candidate for President of the United States in 2020.
Okay, so what do I think of this?  Well, I wouldn't be here talking about this story if I didn't have an opinion of it.  As the ambassador to Japan, she was highly skilled in dealing with nuclear disarmament and world trade - two issues that clearly distinguish her from Donald Trump.  As for her experience in other issues, well, it's . . . wanting.  Bear in mind that Caroline Kennedy was talked about for a congressional campaign in New York in 2009, but that went nowhere.  And three years of government experience in appointive office hardly matches Hillary Clinton's four years of government experience in appointive office plus eight years in elective office before that.
The dynasty issue, however, is moot.  Caroline's father's Presidency was over fifty years ago, and should she be elected President in 2020, there would be a 57-year gap between her and her dad's administration - longer than the eight-year gap between the Bushes or the 24-year gap between John Adams and John Quincy Adams (and longer than even the 48-year gap between grandfather William Henry Harrison and grandson Benjamin Harrison).  In other words, since there's only been one Kennedy in the White House - for a thousand days in the early sixties, which was quite long ago - the dynasty issue doesn't really apply here. The family has been out of the White House so long that voters will shrug it off.  I already have.
It's amazing though, how things turn out. Back in the '70s, some people thought that maybe John F. Kennedy, Jr. might one day run for President - say, in the year 2000. We all know what happened; in 2000, John F. Kennedy, Jr. was dead and another presidential son - from a Republican family - got in the White House instead.  No one ever considered JFK Jr.'s big sister as a presidential prospect, but Hillary Clinton has made that possible now.
If Caroline Kennedy is the 2020 Democratic presidential nominee, I'll vote for her.  But I have to admit that the reliance of the Democrats on familiar faces and names is redolent of annual summer rock festivals that keep booking sixties and seventies acts because no one can name anyone from the current crop of rock acts.  This is the Democratic Party's way of admitting that they have no interest in cultivating new faces (they keep losing to Republican faces in elections, anyway) and are increasingly falling back on a curious brew of Baby Boomer nostalgia and gender-identity politics to win back power in a nation full of millennials who just want a President who'll work for everyone regardless of "identity."  And truth be told, being a Kennedy - even a female Kennedy - doesn't automatically guarantee electoral success.  Caroline's cousin Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, daughter of Robert Kennedy, was a Democratic lieutenant governor of Maryland who ran for the state's top job in 2002 and lost to Republican Robert Ehrlich; she never ran for office again.  When Ehrlich ran for re-election as governor of Maryland in 2006, he was defeated by an upstart Democrat who was not from a powerful political family.
That would be this guy. ;-)              
Whatsa matter, can't you take a hint? :-D

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