Caroline Kennedy? Thanks, but no thanks

New York's governor has better options and he should take one of them.

Published December 16, 2008 2:31AM (EST)

Her name has been floated for Hillary Clinton's old job, and now it's clear that Caroline Kennedy wants it. According to media reports, the 51-year-old daughter of JFK has decided to pursue the position of junior senator from the state of New York. Here's hoping she reconsiders, and/or that Gov. David Paterson appoints somebody better suited for the post.

Not to denigrate Kennedy's commitment to public service, but the only line on her CV that truly recommends her for the post is the one at the top: her name. New Yorkers support her selection because they recognize that name, and because many have abiding affection for her family and memories of a little girl in the White House.

Among New York's 19 million citizens there are many more appropriate options. She is not the most qualified scion of a famous political family – New York's abrasive attorney general Andrew Cuomo outranks her on that front. Though she might be able to argue she's the best available Kennedy -- more suited for the gig than the disappointing Ian Kennedy, though less knowledgeable about the rough-and-tumble of New York politics than William J. Kennedy -- she is not even the most qualified New Yorker named Caroline. Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, who represents parts of Manhattan and Queens and is beginning her ninth term, has made it known she wants the job too. She has hired someone to help her lobby for it (and has complained aloud about the other Caroline's lack of experience.)

If not Maloney, how about one of three Democrats who have demonstrated they can win in purple parts of the state? Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand just won her second term in the House from a previously Republican upstate district. If she's too much of a Blue Dog, how about Long Island's Tom Suozzi or Steve Israel? In other words, how about somebody, anybody, who has something to offer besides celebrity and good intentions, and who can do something for New Yorkers besides scratch the itch of baby boom nostalgia?


By Mark Schone

Mark Schone is Salon's executive news editor.

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