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Michael Murry
Reply with quote  #1 
Something I posted on the TPM Cafe blog in response to some rather inane criticism of Caroline Kennedy and her quest for the New York Senate Seat currently (and, fortunately, not for long) occupied by You-Know-Her.

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In my eighth-grade Social Studies class in 1960, I got the got the job of debating the case for Democrat John F. Kennedy against Republican Richard Nixon for President of the United States. Kennedy won, but Nixon got back at me ten years later when he ordered me to Southeast Asia where I languished for eighteen months in the Nixon-Kissinger Fig Leaf Contingent (Vietnam 1970-72) laboring vainly to Vietnamize the Vietnamese. My point?

Take it from me, fellow Crimestoppers: the Republicans hate losing to no one more than they hate losing to a Kennedy Democrat. Republicans understand and worship monarchy, but only when it involves and serves Republican celebrity/royalty. Right now, though, Caroline Kennedy strikes fear and loathing into not only Republicans, but the Clinton Partners in Pathos, too (pardon the redundancy). It should take no imagination to see that after eight years of experience in the Senate (two more than current New York Senator You-Know-Her had when she ran for President) and after eight successful years by the first African American president -- not incidentally a Democrat -- that the American people will have no problem at all electing the first woman President -- not incidentally a Democrat -- as long as that woman has a celebrity/royal name, at least nominally respectable "experience" in government, and hasn't passed the cut-off age of 60.

Do I have to draw a picture here for the learning impaired?

Not that I give a shit what Republicans or any politician named Clinton thinks (for I've seen more than enough of both), but I'll never forget the day in my high school French II class when the teacher informed us with a quavering voice and ashen/stricken face that President Kennedy had been shot in Dallas, Texas. Days later, I watched on live television the national funeral of our President with the image of his two little children burned into my memory for the rest of my life. On that awful day, America took those fatherless Kennedy kids into the protective shelter of the country's heart and neither of them ever afterwards acted in any manner such as would bring embarassment or regret to any of us.

This doesn't mean that New York or America owes Caroline Kennedy anything. But if anyone thinks that this shy and admirable fifty-one-year-old woman does not resonate powerfully within the very history of America, then it will do me no good to predict that if she lives to serve in the Senate until the retirement of President Barack Obama in 2016, then she will have the 45th Presidency of the United States if she desires it. And nobody understands and fears this profound truth more than Republicans and the Clinton Partners in Pathos (again, pardon the redundancy.)

Before his untimely death, Caroline Kenndy's father challenged America to land a man on the moon and bring him safely back to earth again; "not because it's easy, but because it's hard." Nine years later, and six years after Lee Harvy Oswald took him from us, America did what JFK had promised we as a nation would do -- out of America's love for, and trust in, the man who asked us to do the impossible because he believed we could. Caroline Kenney saw some of that same hunger, hope, and trust in Barack Obama. She saw it before many -- even some in her own family -- saw it. Then she went out to work so as to help make history happen. She ought to know how. And if another President Kennedy should ask America eight years from now to land a man on Mars and bring him safely back to earth in less than a decade, then America will do that too. And we will do it, "not because it is easy," and not even "because it's hard;" but because she asked us to do it, and promised us that we could.

Some people just have what it takes to make history. Barack Obama has it. And Caroline Kennedy has it, too. So, say goodbye to the White House for at least the next sixteen years, Republicans. You've more than earned your coming decades in the wilderness. Do try to get lost.

Stan
Reply with quote  #2 
I do not believe in royal succession or any entitlement to office. I think Hilary Clinton felt that she was entitled to the presidency for some unaccountable reason. I don't think Caroline Kennedy has any entitlement either. Just being the daughter of a dead martyr should not qualify you any more than being the wife of a president. There are plenty of qualified candidates for senator of New York As a former resident and native son of that state I feel they sould have a vigorous contest before anninting someone.
Michael Murry
Reply with quote  #3 

Stan,

 

Thanks for picking up a gauntlet that I didn't drop. As you might have gleaned from what I actually wrote, I specifically said that Americans, especially New Yorkers, "don't owe Caroline Kennedy anything." That doesn't mean, however, that Americans -- and New Yorkers, especially -- don't respond instinctively to the charismatic power of particular brand names, with the political brand name "Kennedy" among the most powerful: both in a positive sense for Democrats and a negative one for Republicans. Two sides of the same coin, really. Love/Hate. That sort of thing. Nonetheless, Democratic and Republican politicians alike would kill for just half the name-recognition, media magnetism, and fund-raising appeal that Caroline Kennedy brings to the table, so to speak. I think the currently shakey Governor Patterson of New York appreciates this as well as anyone.

 

I also said that Republicans -- unfortunately a demographic consisting at times of more than half of all Americans if you include in their ranks the so-called "Reagan Democrats" -- love monarchy when it serves and/or entertains them. Republicans demonstrated this overwhelmingly when they collectively found the royal pull of the "Bush Dynasty" too overwhelming to resist, twice. I can still remember reading about the year-2000 primary contest in South Carolina where the base of the Republican Party -- now temporarily discredited (again) -- chose Dubya (over McCain) because they "really liked his daddy." I report. You decide.

 

I didn't invent these powerful societal forces. I only mentioned them as part of a response to some really nasty people on another blog who don't know much about the history of colonial and post-colonial America. Anyone who visits the supermarket check-out counter in America, for example, cannot help but notice the blaring tabloid headlines of the National Perspirer extolling the latest lurid exploits of the slutty British royal family, especially not just the now long-deceased Princess Diana but her two "princely" sons, as well. For a great many Americans, if they can't legally have the "royal" British "first family" themselves, then they'll take Elvis Presley, Bill Clinton, or Arnold Schwarzenegger: all of whom come close enough to native "Hollywoood" royalty for bumkin/yokel American tastes.

 

Caroline Kennedy, though, stands in a class all her own, for reasons that most Americans implicity understand, but will -- like you -- never admit to themselves or others. For my part, I only sought to describe the emotional pull that the Kennedy name exerts in-and-over the country in general and that the personal, often tragic, history of Caroline Kennedy and her family elicits even more deeply. And I tell you now that when Senator Ted Kennedy finally loses his struggle with brain cancer, that the mystical appeal of the Kennedy name in American politics will only grow even stronger still. I didn't invent this phenomenon of national identification. I have just lived through it and witnessed its power, for good and otherwise.

 

Like most politicians in America -- and especially New York -- Caroline Kennedy will have to kiss the hirsute Hebrew hindquarters of the AIPAC Israeli lobby every bit as shamelessly and obsequeously as You-Know-Her and Barack Obama have enthusiastically done if she seriously wants to win elections in America. I don't like that or admire that or want to see one more day of that pandering to a foreign dependent parasite. Nevertheless, I recognize that little I can say or do will make American politicians listen to me and not Israel and its self-styled "friends." On the other hand, Caroline Kennedy opposed Deputy Dubya's stupid vendetta in Iraq, as did Barack Obama, and so old-anti-war-me supports her political candidacy (for whatever office) as long as she can work for it through bringing her intellect and talents to bear on the task of peacemaking. I think, objectively, that she has conducted her life pretty well to date and has done an effective job championing the Barack Obama candidacy which, you might have noticed, succeeded rather convincingly in large part due to the early and enthusiastic support of Caroline and Senator Ted Kennedy. Did you miss this famous-name-exploiting stuff somehow?

 

Caroline Kennedy, I have no doubt, will make every bit as good, if not better, Senator for her home state than You-Know-Her ever did with her flag-burning Constitutional amendment stunts and anti-violent-cartoon crusades. Really, what has Senator You-Know-Her ever done of consequence for either New York or America other than make damn sure that millions of Americans haven't had health care for almost two decades?  

 

So I dispute your comments about New York's junior Senator You-Know-Her, whose purely family association with a former popular husband/President -- most notably one made even more popular due to his tom-cat aristocratic sexual misadventures -- absolutely gained her an instantaneous Senate seat in New York without her ever having lived in that state. Caroline Kennedy, on the other hand, has lived in New York for a great part of her adult life and has long involved herself in worthwhile endeavors beneficial to the people of that state. I really don't get your beef with Ms. Kennedy. What has she ever done but keep her name clean and loyally try to assist the interests of the Democratic Party and less-advantaged Americans?

 

But so what? I once expressed the same anti-entitlement views as you just have to my son Vincent, the New Yorker, at the time of You-Know-Her's carpetbagging arrival for her "entitled" senatorial corronation. He frankly told me -- as I think most New Yorkers would have -- that he wanted someone well-known and well-connected to represent his state and that the Republicans had only offered up a complete "putz" in the person of the unknown Representative Rick Lazio. Remember him? Vince also said that New Yorkers understood perfectly that You-Know-Her had only descended upon them and their Senate seat as a temporary stepping stone to the Presidency. But New Yorkers didn't care, my son said, so long as You-Know-Her's family fame as "first lady" could do something for New York until such time as she left for other pursuits. The alacrity with which You-Know-Her has just bailed out of New York for Washington and the State Department (once New York no longer served her ambitions) neither surprises nor offends realistic New Yorkers who now only want someone else, equally -- if not more -- well-known and effective to represent their state. After all, New Yorkers had no problem electing Caroline's assassinated uncle Bobby Kennedy Senator when he moved to New York from Massachusetts to further just the same political ambitions as You-Know-Her has thankfully failed to achieve. As a (once) New Yorker yourself, it surprises me that I should have to explain all this to you.

 

Finally, getting back to those other "qualified" candidates for New York Senator (I don't know the plural of "putz"), but I've never heard of any of them other than some guy with the last name of "Cuomo," who seems to have some limited appeal due the fact that another guy with that name -- his father -- once served as Governor of New York. Do you not see the overwhelming irony of all this "qualification" stuff staring you in the face? New Yorkers as I have known them in all their in-your-face "humility" really do seem to think that their state's U. S senators should rise to somethig approximating international stature. Unfortunately, New York politics tends to produce much mediocre local talent and so importing -- not the case with Caroline Kennedy -- someone famous to fill a Senate seat often has to suffice for an "important" state like New York. Again, I would have thought that you understood this.

 

I could go on and on and on, but I think I've made my point. In my earlier post, I described the national emotional bond that Caroline Kennedy enjoys -- to her possible political benefit. She did not, however, plot to have her own father and uncle shot and killed in order to win this deep and abiding affection: one that might just come in handy in seeking higher office in which to further serve the country. And I will repeat again, as one who has noticed the last forty years in which no American has set foot upon the moon (or done much else of significance in Space), that if another president named Kennedy had put forth a "vision" for exploring our solar system -- instead of the cynical joke perpetrated upon the country by Deputy Dubya Bush -- that we would already have very large telescope arrays (optical and radio) on the far side of the moon and colonies on Mars. It does make a very significant difference WHO challenges the country to do WHAT. Deputy Dubya asked us to go "war" by going shopping. I suspect that a President (or even just Senator) Caroline Kennedy would set the nation's sights a great deal higher than that. The country would respond, too. It tends to do that, given the right sort of personal example in the "leadership." 

 

I do agree with you about vigorous contests to select our politial office-holders. If nominated by Governor Patterson (who inhereited his own office after Governor Elliot Spitzer had to resign in disgrace) Caroline Kennedy will have to run for re-election in only two short years. But the same goes for any other qualified "putz" the governor (accompanied by his own multiple-mistress scandals) might appoint. The only real issue here involves the appointed Democratic Party Senator running as an incumbent, which helps greatly but does not guarantee success in every election.

 

It also seems obvious to me (and othe sentient carbon-based life forms) that the Senate seat now occupied by the already-departed You-Know-Her will not become truly open while the Always-Indecisive-One dawdles until the last possible moment of her own State Department confirmation. No sense boldly taking any chances with a solidly Democratic Senate majority. Anything could happen, you know. But I'll go ahead and draw the crayon sketch anyway, just to leave no stone unturned in making my point. This extended period of unnecessary vacilation in resigning by You-Know-Her can only serve to delay consolidation of the Democratic Party ticket in New York (about which You-Know-Her could not give a shit) and damage, if possible, the political fortunes of Caroline Kennedy -- potentially the first woman President in American history. Republicans can only rejoice as their stalking-mare heroine You-Know-Her, once again seems determined to work tirelessly against those Democrats the Republicans fear most: like first Barack Obama and now Caroline Kennedy.

 

But, anyway, Caroline Kennedy has more than done her share to help the national Democratic Party over the past two years. In addition to stumping tirelessly for President-elect Barack Obama, Caroline Kennedy also helped pick Joe Biden (no favorite of mine) as Barack Obama's successful running mate. In spite of all that hard work and team-playing, though, she will still have to work more and compete harder for whatever she wants to achieve in political life. I've never maintained otherwise. I just happen to also admit that she has impressive, if not unique, qualifications and legitimate name recognition that can help not just herself but other Democratic Party candidates defeat even more repudiated Republican Party candidates, wherever they still lurk. If Caroline Kennedy can help defeat Republicans for both the Senate seat of New York and Presidency of the United States, I really don't see what possible objection you could have to that desirable outcome.

 

The Kennedy name in American political life should not guarantee anyone anything. Neither, though, should it absolutely disqualify any Kennedy who has done nothing but advance the interests of the Democratic Party and the United States of America. 

 

If you care to actually dispute the real issues here, I'll play. I can't, after all, spend each and every minute of my day sculpting Taoist relief gargoyles. I can still work in a few minutes writing poems and non-existentialist essays about whatever. So, my friend, back to you ...

Michael Murry
Reply with quote  #4 
Oh, yes. I almost forgot to add a minor observation to what I've already written above in support of Caroline Kennedy's candidacy for Senator from New York, a state where my youngest son Vincent now lives and works. I recall quite vividly when Caroline and Senator Ted Kennedy came out with their enthusiastic endorsement of Barack Obama at a time when most other prominent Democratic Party politicians either sat on the fence or openly campaigned against Barack Obama in favor of themselves or current New York Senator You-Know-Who. I do not recall, however, Barack Obama or anyone in his campaign refusing any association with that "royal" Kennedy name, protesting: "Oh, no! Why we could never stoop so low as to trade for political advantage on the mere "name" of some nobody whose president father and senator Uncle gave their lives up to assassins while serving our country. I just can't recall any reluctance like that at all. So, what again has Caroline Kennedy not "earned"?

Frankly, it seems to me more than a little disingenuous for any Barack Obama supporter -- or any other Democrat, really -- to wish anything but luck to Caroline Kennedy in the realistic hope that she can do even more in the future to help not just President Obama (who probably owes his election very much to that mere "name" that came to his aid when he most needed it) but other Democratic Party politicians in New York and America at large. I can understand why Republicans would find Ms Kennedy's formidable name and family association a dreadful prospect, but I simply can't fathom why any Democrat would.

I just thought I'd add that little point to some of the others I raised above.

And, again, since the Governor of New York only just recently inherited his own office from the disgraced and resigned Elliot Spitzer, having a personally clean and scandal-free Caroline Kennedy on the state Democratic Party ticket in two years seems only too reasonable a strategy to me. Other Democratic Party officeholders in New York and America have ambitions, too. So let them go endorse a presidential candidate at a critical campaign juncture and also raise a lot of money for him/her. If they can do so, then fine. Otherwise, they should get behind someone who can: someone like Caroline Kennedy. Of course, if these "Democrats" don't really care about winning ...

Anyway, this hopelessly romantic old grandpa Baby Boomer has said about all he has to say on this subject unless prompted for further discussion by anyone else who has something original and interesting to add.  
Stan
Reply with quote  #5 
OK back to me. and by the way hope you are having a happy holiday season or whatever you do during the buying time that passes for Christmas in the US.

Before discussing the candidacy of Caroline Kennedy I would like to describe my place during the time of her father's assassination. I was working at Fairchild Camera and Instrument Corp. in Hempstead Long Island on Nov 23 1963. I worked with a guy who hated liberals and even wrote stuff for the John Birch society. He was a genuine hater. When we were walking back from the cafeteria at 12:30 on that day someone came running down the hall yelling that Pres Kennedy had been shot. Without taking one second for reflection my right wing lunch companion said "good they finally got that commie lover" Having spent plenty of time with many political types I'm sure that you know of these kinds of reactions. But something in me just sank when I heard this. I mean after all why should political affiliation affect the normal feelings that one would have upon hearing that someone was shot? I have never ever forgotten that and have tried, sometimes unsuccessfully, to keep my political and humanistic feelings separated. It is difficult but that incident is still burned into my psyche.

I have nothing against Caroline Kennedy as senator from New York. She is as qualified or unqualified as anyone else in the line of succession. But Paul Krugman has an interesting take on this candidacy this morning. He desperately wants the Demos to succeed in bringing the idea of "good governemnt"to  life. And he points out that form is important at this stage. If Caroline Kennedy is presumed to be annointed senator it will do nothing but stir the hateful reactions of the right and give them something to hang on to. Right now we don't need to give them any encouragement. Everything done at this time has to have the appearance of purity. So yeah let Caroline be senator for a while but let's make sure that the process (la tramité as they call it here) is justifiable. As far as the other presumed candidates of NY senator, there are none moree or less qualified than Caroline. BTW she seems like a nice person too.

Michael Murry
Reply with quote  #6 
Thanks for the reply, Stan. I don't think we really disagree much here on substance; probably just a little on degree of emphasis.

I've already noted previously that I first heard of JFK's shooting in my junior-year, highschool French II class. I didn't know that he had died, though, until later in the day when walking down the corridor with my girlfriend: about as rabid a right-winger as anyone I've ever known. (I obtained my secondary public education in arch-conservative Orange County, California so I didn't have many "liberals" to choose from in the romantic department.) This little Goldwater Girl (like the current New York Senator You-Know-Her) said to me: "Did you hear that President Kennedy has died. What a shame." The way she said it -- as if she could barely resist grinning from ear to ear -- depressed me almost as much as the bad news itself. Later in life, I worked for fifteen years at the Hughes Aircraft Company in Fullerton, California and one of my older colleagues there told me of hearing the same bad news about JKF one night in a bar while serving at a military base in Mississippi. The bar crowd erupted in a raucous cheer, he said.

Anyway, I did owe my reactionary Goldwater Girl girlfiend at least one little note of gratitude, since she referred me to an orthodontist who later straightened my teeth for me. I'll never forget the guy: Dr. Burton Schild -- originally from Long Island, New York. A raging liberal Jew and folk music fan, we got on famously. Between sessions of some discomfort for me, he would want to discuss Bob Dylan and other Greenwich Villiage types who sang or wrote poetry pretty much dedicated to revolution and overthrowing the then-and-now reactionary drift of American society and politics. About his other patient: the girl who had referred me to him, he would say:" Mike, she is such a raving fascist. It will never work out between the two of you." It didn't. She moved to Virginia with her Navy Commander father. I suppose they both found what they'd always dreamed of there.

So, you see, like others of our generation, I've got indelible memories of JFK, RFK, MLK and so many others whom the rabid reactionaries in America continue to loathe and vilify to this day. I remember the novelist James Jones saying that for my parents' WWII generation, "Guadalcanal was not a name. It was an emotion." I consider myself a curmudgeon, a misanthrope, a semantic-and-grammar Gestapo, and an ex-patriot skeptic of all war-agitating politicians; but even for me, "Kennedy" does not simply refer to a few persons from a particular family. It reminds me of the terrible cost many Americans have paid for raising expectations as to just how much better America can become when we try to right past wrongs and elevate the national psyche towards the possibility of liberal improvement towards ever greater freedom and justice.

On a somewhat related note, I saw the three astronauts Borman, Lovell, and Enders -- the Apollo Eight crew -- on Web-TV the other day. Forty years ago, these three men flew around the moon and back for the first time in human history. They took that amazing picture of the earth "rising" over the moon's horizon, floating like a lovely blue-white ball against the utter blackness of space. On their way back safely to earth, mission control in Houston beamed up to them some congratulatory radio messages: one from President Lyndon Baines Johnson; one from Charles and Anne Morrow Lindbergh; and one from a Mrs. Valerie Pringle who had written to NASA -- at the end of a brutal and awful year -- saying just: "You saved 1968."

I realize that younger people growing up today have no memory of those traumatic events that shaped the lives of our generation -- at least the part of it that didn't have "other priorities" than attending to the historically important. True, I mostly consider my fellow countrymen a sub-linguistic tribe of "body language" Boobies (and I've written more than enough poetry to express that sentiment) who simply can't resist the urge to borrow and buy whatever they've seen someone on a glowing TV screen say, wear, or drive. Nonetheless, I still have memories of a few times in my life when certain persons could critically analyze America's problems and challenge the country to do great things. The names "Kennedy" and "Martin Luther King" (Jr.) usually rank right at the top of any list I would draw up of those Americans who have made a difference for the ages.

Have a happy season of celebrating whatever makes you and Babs glad that you moved to Costa Rica. As I like to say about finally moving back to Taiwan after so many decades spent working and raising a family in the U.S.A.: "At last, I've made it home from America." Cheers. 

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