Where’s The Hook?

Karen Tumulty is the latest to observe the capsizing of the HMS Caroline:

For most people, the salient biographical fact about Caroline Kennedy–let alone the reason to seriously consider her candidacy for the Senate–is her last name. Being a Kennedy has not exactly proved to be an obstacle to success over the past century of American life. You would think that someone with the Kennedy political DNA would have a better understanding of her relative head start in life, but thus far, the only thing Caroline Kennedy has established is that she hasn’t inherited the Kennedy charisma gene.
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(Tumulty, for reasons she does not make clear, still thinks Caroline will prevail.) Is it Caroline’s presumptuousness or her vacuity that has shattered the Kennedy aura? Both, it seems.

While it is true this is a prime moment for celebrity politicians (goodness knows we just elected the Oprah-endorsed new age icon), Caroline seems to be missing the “hook” — the element that allows her to both connect with the ordinary voter and simultaneously to provide rationalization for Governor Paterson to select her from the pack of lesser known, but more able competitors. She has none of the self-created narrative of Barack Obama, the populist charm of Sarah Palin, the brainy wonkish-ness of Bobby Jindal or the hard-bitten political tenacity of Hillary Clinton. She is the ultimate derivative — a packaged, ancillary product of unknown worth.

Caroline has said she’s not interested in running, simply in being selected. So David Paterson may escape by finding a diligent placeholder to block the ascension of the undeserving and unmotivated Caroline. It would not exactly be an act of political courage or a source of pride. But sometimes all we can do is muddle through.