Is Caroline Kennedy Qualified?
America is transfixed. The world is transfixed. The Kennedy legend promises to open another chapter.
For days, Chinese whispers in the corridors of power trickled through the grapevines of political gossip that, Caroline, the sole surviving child of JFK and Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy might be interested in serving in the US Senate. Fueled by the knowledge that her uncle Edward Kennedy is nearing the limits of his service in the Senate, the rumor that Caroline Kennedy might be stepping into her family's niche of history by following in the footsteps of her father and her uncles seemed remote, a pipedream, a fantasy, a paradox of wishful thinking for those nostalgic enough to recall the glamor and momentum of Camelot.
Regarded by many as pure speculation and discounted as highly improbable that Caroline Kennedy could have any conceivable interest whatsoever in subjecting herself and her family to the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune concomitant on the position of US Senator, the rumors ended abruptly when Governor Paterson received a telephone call from JFK's daughter stating that she would be interested in the Senate seat soon to be vacated by Hillary Clinton when she is confirmed as Secretary of State in February.
Given the received opinion in the form of contrarian rumors, Governor David Paterson may have been mildly shocked when he told reporters that Caroline Kennedy had telephoned to confirm her intention to seek his appointment with the promise to present her qualifications to the Governor. Sounding just the slightest bit dumbfounded, the Governor told a hastily assembled press conference, "She told me she was interested in the position. She'd like at some point to sit down and tell me what she thinks her qualifications are." Echoing the thunderstruck Governor, the headline in the New York Times proclaimed, "Kennedy Seeks to Prove Qualifications for Senate Bid."
Having made a conscious decision to live quietly in a private life heavily veiled from the white-hot glare of publicity and shielded from the persistent pestering of the paparazzi, Caroline Kennedy is consummately qualified to ascend to the Senate seat once held by her uncle, RFK.
While her family heritage is common knowledge to every school child, Caroline Kennedy's life and achievements have been studiously secluded, but make no mistake -- the qualifications of Caroline Kennedy are remarkable.
As the daughter of the president, she lived in the White House during her early childhood and afterward with her mother in Georgetown and New York. When she was eighteen, she visited London to attend a nine-month art class at Sotheby's. Hosted by the Conservative MP Hugh Fraser, Caroline was chauffeured to and from Sotheby's in an atmosphere of safe, serene and calm security far from the madding turbulence of America where she had lost her father and her uncle to assassination.
However, Caroline's tranquil studies in London were marred when the IRA placed a bomb in Fraser's car that exploded only minutes before she was due to step into it for her daily trip to the venerable auction house. Even though the bomb exploded prematurely thus saving the lives of Caroline and Fraser, the blast killed a passerby who happened to be a distinguished oncologist, Gordon Hamilton-Fairley. This up close and personal confrontation with tragedy shaped the young woman who was already more than well aware of the omnipresent dangers of political assassination.
Upon her return to America, Caroline studied at Harvard and Columbia earning an A. B. and a J. D. In the 1980s, she married Edward Schlossberg and gave birth to three children: Rose; Tatiana and Jack.
Using her skills as an attorney and author, she wrote six books including a legal textbook: In Our Defense: The Bill of Rights in Action as well as the bestsellers -- A Patriot's Handbook and Profiles in Courage for Our Time.
Caroline Kennedy's executive experience includes her service as CEO for the Office of Strategic Partnerships for the New York City Department of Education and her Presidency of the Kennedy Library Foundation. She serves on the boards of the Commission on Presidential Debates and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. Caroline serves as the Honorary Chair of the American Ballet Theatre, and she is a member of the Advisory Boar of the Harvard Institute of Politics.
Working for a formidable variety of charities, Caroline Kennedy has commandeered fundraising drives that have yielded a quarter of a billion dollars for worthy causes - the primary beneficiaries being education, civil rights and the arts.
Over the past year, Caroline Kennedy has gradually raised her public profile in parallel with the news of her uncle's illness and uncertainties about the robustness of his capacity to serve as the ranking New Frontiersman in the Senate. First, she emerged as a prominent backer of the presidential candidacy of Barack Obama. In a statement published in the New York Times titled, "A President Like My Father," Caroline Kennedy wrote:
I have never had a president who inspired me the way people tell me that my father inspired them. But for the first time, I believe I have found the man who could be that president -- not just for me, but for a new generation of Americans.
During the presidential campaign, she contributed the maximum amount to Obama and Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton. Sensing her capacity to engage with the political dynamic, Barack Obama invited her to serve on his committee for the selection of his Vice-Presidential running mate. The humorist and filmmaker, Michael Moore, beseeched her to "do a Cheney" and name herself as Obama's running mate. In August, she addressed the Democratic National Convention to introduce her august uncle for his immensely popular speech.
The image of a US Senate graced by two Kennedys both bearing the flame of JFK and conjuring the era of Camelot presents a potent concoction of political magic at a critical juncture in American history now seemingly on the threshold of a resurgence of progressive energy and the promise of positive change in the Obama Era.