Monday, December 29, 2008

Caroline Kennedy and the Media

I have been trying very hard to avoid posting on the Caroline Kennedy thing, partly I suppose because it just seemed so obvious to me that she could not possibly be qualified for this job/appointment nor taken seriously as a contender. Her primary qualification seems to be that her maiden name is Kennedy.

But then I saw this CNN poll today: 52% of Americans nationwide think she is qualified to fill the New York Senate seat, 42% say she's not.

Seriously? 52% of Americans think she is qualified? Based on WHAT? She's written some fluff books. She's been around politics her entire life. So have a lot of people.

If I were truly eloquent I would have written this column which ran in today's National Review, written by Victor Davis Hanson. He compares Kennedy's experience to that of Sarah Palin and examines the media treatment of both. A sample:

"But, no, the real embarrassment proves to be the media itself that apparently can't see this weird unfolding self-incriminating morality tale: It is not just that Palin is conservative, Kennedy politically-correct (e.g., pro-abortion, gun control, gay marriage, etc), or Palin a newcomer to public attention, Kennedy a celebrity since childhood. Rather it is the aristocratic value system of most NY-DC journalists themselves who apparently still assume that old money, status, and an Ivy-League pedigree are reliable barometers of talent and sobriety, suggesting that the upper-East Side Kennedy's public ineptness is an aberration, a bad day, a minor distraction, while Palin's charisma and ease are superficial and a natural reflection of her Idaho sports journalism degree.

A few generations ago, Democrats would have opposed Palin but appreciated her blue-collar story, and applauded a working mom who out-politicked entrenched and richer male elites. But now the new aristocratic liberalism has adopted the values of the old silk-stocking Republicans of the 1950s—and so zombie-like worship rather than question entitlement."

So true, Mr. Hanson. I'm not trying to rile up my Obama supporting friends here, but it seems that the same 52% that think Kennedy is qualified is also roughly the same margin that thought Obama had the experience to be president. As we argued back and forth in the campaign - he was Senator for only a short time, he published a couple of books, he passed no major legislation, his work background was sketchy (community organizer).

Caroline's main accomplishment has been philanthropy and I'm just not sure that's a qualification for U.S. Senator. If she wants to get involved in politics maybe she should run for the local school board.

(Photo by Joseph Moran)


Sarah said...

"If she wants to get involved in politics maybe she should run for the local school board."


Anonymous said...

This article seems a little defensive. I haven't seen any reporting which suggests that Caroline is qualified for this position. In fact, i've read and heard reported much which questions her qualifications.

The fact that this person chooses to compare the media's treatment of Kennedy to its treatment of Palin seems like projection. A reason to bring up Palin, and her supposed mistreatment. Why are conservatives so defensive of Palin? She was a failed trick. A beautiful woman with a sharp tongue, but absolutely no qualifications to be vice president, meant to steal away the spotlight from the Dems at a critical point in the campaign. It worked for a couple of weeks, and then she was exposed.

The head of the McCain campaign admits as much, that she was not necessarily the BEST choice for VP, but the choice intended to provide the biggest campaign spark. Country First, what irony.

Pat Austin said...

Welcome back Anonymous; I've missed debating with you! :)

I don't agree that it's a projection really; while the offices they are contending for are vastly different, both have "questionable" qualifications. I disagree with the stance that Palin was unqualified but that's not really the issue in this article. The point was how differently they've been treated by the media. The media vilified Palin. No such treatment of Kennedy. The media, the late-night talk shows, even SNL acted as if Palin just fell off a turnip truck with her ineptness but no such treatment of Caroline. Charlie Gibson looked down his nose at Palin and Couric spliced together a nasty interview from which the media proclaimed Palin to be an idiot. But no such treatment of Caroline.

Yes, there are some periodicals that question her qualifications but not very many. It's clear that the treatment of them is vastly different.

NeNe said...

i don't think she's qualified at all

folks need to realize that just b/c her name is Kennedy - doesn't mean she's meant to be in politics

i agree 100%

Anonymous said...

Pat - i agree, the media treatment has not been equal, but isn't that related to your point that they are running for vastly different positions? I would expect that a vice presidential nominee be a top story. I would expect that Caroline Kennedy suggesting that she might be interested in running for a senate seat be much less interesting to the public at large, and thus, much less reported.

I think most people were VERY interested in knowing an unknown vice presidential nominee (Palin), but how many people do you think REALLY care about a potential nominee for a NY Senate Seat? I think this explains the discrepancy in the volume of reporting of each. The character of the reporting can be debated...

I agree that the media was very hard on Palin, but the stories weren't FABRICATED. The media was working with what it was given. For instance, one might think that the Couric interview was spliced together to make her look incompetent, but Palin's responses were pretty incompetent on their own. I think most of her defenders should be most angry at the campaign for the manner in which she was presented to the media and public. They did a poor job of preparing her and managing her introduction to a public which was VERY eager to learn about her. They did neither her nor the campaign any favors.

Pat said...

Yeah, I agree that the importance of the two offices is really different - the old "heartbeat away" thing and all, but I seriously believe that the media was seriously biased against Palin. I believe that the media was in the bag for Obama from the get-go, as they say, and that Palin was collateral damage of that. That said, I do agree that the McCain campaign did her no favors; they restricted her in too many regards.

I still believe Palin is a bright star in the Republican party, but I'm not so sure she'll be able to recover from the campaign. If she can get out there on her own terms, she might be okay.

Kennedy on the other hand, well, I think lots of people are interested in her, not because of the Senate seat, but because she's a Kennedy. But she remains totally unqualified. And as far as the media goes, if Palin had given as many interviews with "you know" and "uh" as Kennedy has, well, you know. :)