As Hillary Clinton moves on from the Senate to her new position as Secretary of State, New York Governor David Paterson is looking for someone to fill her Senate seat for two years, ending with a special election in 2010. Among those being considered is Caroline Kennedy, daughter of President John Kennedy and niece of longtime Senate fixture Teddy Kennedy of Massachusetts.
Kennedy is an independently wealthy mother of three, author of a handful of bestselling books on politics, literature, and the law. She is a lawyer admitted to the bar in New York and Washington, a former journalist, and a very successful advocate for public education who was largely responsible for raising $65 million in private funds for special programs in the New York public schools. Kennedy has held down a real 9 to 5 job, working in media relations at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and has served on the boards of various charities and foundations. At the age of 51 she is politically active, well educated, and has a wide variety of useful experience. She is also a well known figure in liberal political circles and has been the focus of media attention since she was a small child living in the White House.
Strangely, although Kennedy was a darling of the media as a celebrity for many years, now that she has political aspirations she is coming under a great deal of criticism from fellow liberals and from the left-leaning press. This past Sunday on ABC's This Week, Alison Stewart of NPR discussed Caroline Kennedy's motivations for running for the Senate as described in a previous interview, saying:
She (Caroline Kennedy) describes her motivation "I thought it would be a good time to volunteer for service." She talks about the inspiration. I think the word 'volunteer' is really kind of interesting, that she's putting herself up as somebody who (says) I'm going to give of my time for the Senate, and I thought, you know, that could be a real turn-off.
This typical comment illustrates the bizarre thinking of many of those who are criticizing Kennedy's interest in serving in the Senate. How can it be a "turn-off" that someone with every opportunity to sit back and just enjoy life would choose to sacrifice their time and their money and their hard work to step forward and use their skills and knowledge on behalf of the people by serving in the Senate? What more appealing motivation could there be than a selfless desire to be a spokesperson for the people in the highest house of government? Clearly Kennedy turns off Alison Stewart. She makes the idea of volunteerism sound strangely suspect. But isn't volunteerism supposed to be a good thing? Is she right, or do most people like the idea of someone who isn't a career politician offering themselves for public service?