Commentary Magazine


The Princess’ Diary: It Was a Bad Week

Caroline Kennedy’s coronation for the U.S. Senate has been disrupted by, well, by Caroline Kennedy. The media is shocked, shocked to learn she’s a political dilettante and a bit foolish. We learn that she was cheap, or rather disinterested I think, when it came to financially supporting New York Democrats. Then, she channels a bit of Queen Victoria and Bob Dole in explaining her infrequent voting record:  “I was dismayed by my voting record.” (Will she be dismayed by her voting record if she gets to the Senate? It boggles the mind, really.)

Her list of errors is growing — from ducking the press to refusing to reveal her finances (hint: she’s really, really rich) to seeming unawareness that it is poor form to sound iffy on support for the Democratic candidate for mayor of New York City. (Her handlers have since told her as much and she’s now reversed course, making clear her devotion to all things and people Democratic.)

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. Upstate New York, as it had throughout Hillary Clinton’s tenure, has more than its share of economic problems. And the country as a whole has some fairly daunting challenges. Given all this do the media elites expect Princess Caroline to be welcomed by the little people — and real pols — with open arms? Not so much, it seems.

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. That might be best for all concerned, especially Governor Paterson who might be the most “dismayed” by the inequitable query that would follow Kennedy’s selection: This is the best New York can do?