Friday, January 2, 2009

Caroline Kennedy Gets the Sarah Palin Treatment, Sorta

The response by much of the New York press and political establishment to Caroline Kennedy’s announcement that she was interested in Senator Clinton’s Senate seat was to subject her to the flyspecking received by Sarah Palin. Dozens of reporters did not parachute into New York to check out her record, but only because they were already there. They discovered that Caroline had not voted in several elections.

A common response, especially by Democratic office holders and hence aspirants to the same Senate seat, is that she is not qualified. Of course, these same politicians are all chomping at the bit to be appointed to the Senate, but must hide their ambitions.

Others, similar to Palin’s coverage, question her interviewing abilities – a polite way of saying Caroline Kennedy, with degrees from Harvard and Columbia Law School, is inarticulate and perhaps even unintelligent. Of course, that statement is often made against President George W. Bush, he with degrees from Yale and Harvard Business School, and with a GPA and presumably SAT higher than Senator John Forbes Kerry.

In an extensive interview with two New York Times reporters, Ms. Kennedy used the phrase “You know” 142 times. Yes, someone counted how many times she said “you know,” as in Yes, you know ….” That is true flyspecking.

Interestingly enough, you know, Rush Limbaugh edited a press conference by Senator Barack Obama in which the Senator spoke unscripted. He found minutes of “Oh’s” and “ahs” & “umms”. Without a script the President elect losses some of his great oratorical abilities.

Ms. Kennedy also at one point, in response to a series of inane questions, had the effrontery to ask the New York Times reporters if they ever thought of writing for a woman’s magazine.

Speaking ability and intelligence are not one and the same. We all see newscasters who can read from a teleprompter, but if they have to go off script become blithering idiots. Politicians may be no different. Governor Grandholm of Michigan is intelligent, articulate and telegenic; she’s also incompetent and has worsened the economic climate in Michigan

The Constitutional requirements for the Senate are being a citizen of at least 30 years of age. Ms. Kennedy meets those requirements.

The question about qualifications in essence premises you cannot become a Senator unless you previously held elective office, presumably in Congress. Daniel Patrick Moynihan was one of New York’s great senators last century. He held no prior elective office prior to his three Senate terms. His successor also held no prior elective office, and was not even a New Yorker; that being Hillary Rodham Clinton. The Senate seat was earlier held by yet another carpetbagger also never previously elected to office, Robert F. Kennedy. The choice for the New York Senate is first up to Governor David Paterson and then the voters of New York. That’s it.

California has had two governors emerge from Hollywood: Ronald Reagan and Arnold Schwarzenegger (ironically married to a Kennedy) without prior elective experience. Governors often appoint non-elective officials to fill an open Senate seat.

I’m not sure what elective experience means as a qualification since in recent years Congress has been consistently ranked 10-20% below President Bush’s abysmal approval ratings.

What we are watching with Caroline Kennedy, and earlier with both Governor Palin and Senator Clinton in the primaries, is political sexism. The media, commentators, and bloggers have imposed a double standard, subjecting the women to much closer scrutiny than the male candidates.

Senator Biden, for example, was almost a gaffe a day, calling into question both his intelligence and judgment, but barely a mention in the mainstream media, including the New York Times. Nor did the media parachute three dozen reporters into Chicago to closely scrutinize Senator Obama’s relationship with the corruption of Chicago politics or his many “friends” of dubious repute (especially Ayres, Pfleger, Rezsko, and Wright). The media could have had a field day with Senator Obama’s smoking habits, but totally ignored them. Indeed, as with Governor Jimmy Carter in 1976 the mainstream media anointed Obama as the chosen one and gave him a free pass throughout the long campaign.

Senator Caroline Kennedy has one impressive qualification this year that is especially needed in today’s political world of corruption. She has integrity and cannot be bribed!

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