My last post referred to Lincoln, FDR, and JFK as “pretty good presidents,” but heck, Lincoln and FDR were great presidents, while JFK never even had the chance to finish out his first term. I’ll let 20th-century historians debate JFK’s greatness, but I hope we can at least agree that there’s always been something a little fishy about the mythmaking surrounding “Camelot” and the Kennedys as an “American aristocracy.”
Ted Sorensen exemplified this during the panel at the New York Times. When asked who New York Governor David Paterson should choose to fill Hillary Clinton’s vacated senate seat, Sorensen replied, “I always rely on DNA.”
Really? How did that work out for the Hapsburgs?
Now this line also got a laugh. And at the lordly New York Times, you rather worry that they were laughing with him rather than at him. But does Sorensen choose his doctors and airline pilots this way? Sorensen, of course, refers to Caroline Kennedy’s bid for Paterson to name her to the seat. And at the end of the day, you can’t really blame him for his preference.
Still, it’s irritating. I’m neither the first nor the smartest person to say this, but if Caroline Kennedy wants to demonstrate her fitness to hold a Democratic seat as junior senator for New York, she should run for the office in 2010. In the meantime, Paterson should pick a placeholder. It’s bad enough when Senate seats become dynastic, but you should at least burnish your résumé by showing you can face the electorate and win.
This is Common-place, so it seems fitting to give the floor to Common Sense (by Thomas Paine):
But it is not so much the absurdity as the evil of hereditary succession which concerns mankind. Did it ensure a race of good and wise men it would have the seal of divine authority, but as it opens a door to the foolish, the wicked; and the improper, it hath in it the nature of oppression. Men who look upon themselves born to reign, and others to obey, soon grow insolent; selected from the rest of mankind their minds are early poisoned by importance; and the world they act in differs so materially from the world at large, that they have but little opportunity of knowing its true interests, and when they succeed to the government are frequently the most ignorant and unfit of any throughout the dominions.
Furthermore, as someone at the panel pointed out, if you’re going to rely on DNA, then Andrew Cuomo would serve just as well, wouldn’t he? Once again, Paine has the last word:
However, it is needless to spend much time in exposing the folly of hereditary right, if there are any so weak as to believe it, let them promiscuously worship the ass and lion, and welcome. I shall neither copy their humility, nor disturb their devotion.