Sensing that the tide has turned against Caroline Kennedy, Maureen Dowd rides to her rescue. Dowd coos:
I know Caroline Kennedy. She’s smart, cultivated, serious and unpretentious. The Senate, shamefully sparse on profiles in courage during Dick Cheney’s reign of terror, would be lucky to get her.
You sense that between the second and third sentences Dowd was sorely tempted to insert: “Just like me!”
So now, with the election safely behind us and Sarah Palin tucked away back in Alaska, the truth can be told. Identity politics is not, in itself, objectionable — it just depends on the identity. Not okay: small town, funny accent, overt religiosity, non-tony education. Okay: Manhattan address, Ivy League, discreet attire, impeccable lineage. (In other words, just like Dowd’s inner circle.)
And how do we know Caroline is “serious”? After all, she couldn’t muster any particularly unique policy views in her jaw-dropping media debut and her “scholarship” is either a compilation of others’ works, family tributes or both (as in a compilation of Jackie’s favorite poetry). Now Dowd concedes that “It isn’t what your name is. It’s what you do with it.” So what precisely has Carline done?
Of course Dowd can’t resist invoking “profiles in courage” because that’s Caroline’s true claim to fame: her father. We have no reason to believe, however, that Caroline would be courageous. Her life is devoid of acts of political boldness, personal sacrifice or original thinking.
Certainly she could do something substantive and distinctive in her life, which might account for why she (or more likely a pushy relative) is eying the Senate. But let’s give up the pretense that she is anything more than the epitome of identity politics. She just happens to possess an identity to which Dowd can relate.