America`s Full Blood Princess, Caroline Kennedy
December 10, 2008, 04:07 AM
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Washington Post op-ed columnist Ruth Marcus gushes in "A Vote for Senator Caroline:"

On the question of Caroline Kennedy for Senate, my head says no, on balance. My heart says yes! Yes! Right now, as you might guess from the hedging on the former and the exclamation points on the latter, my heart is winning. ...

There are any number of intriguing subplots at work here. Her uncle's illness, and the "dream will never die" emotion of having Caroline in place to carry on his work. The don't-mess-with-my-family payback dynamic of putting in for the job to shove aside Andrew Cuomo, her cousin Kerry's former husband.

Imagine, by the way, how Hillary Clinton must be feeling. After all that work, after all those years, she not only lost the presidential nomination to Barack Obama, she now may be yielding her Senate seat to a woman who emerged from the political shadows to give Obama the benediction of the Kennedy legacy.

What really draws me to the notion of Caroline as senator, though, is the modern-fairy-tale quality of it all. Like many women my age — I'm a few months younger than she — Caroline has always been part of my consciousness: The lucky little girl with a pony and an impossibly handsome father. The stoic little girl holding her mother's hand at her father's funeral. The sheltered girl, whisked away from a still-grieving country by a mother trying to shield her from prying eyes.

In this fairy tale, Caroline is our tragic national princess. She is not locked away in a tower but chooses, for the most part, to closet herself there. Her mother dies, too young. Her impossibly handsome brother crashes his plane, killing himself, his wife and his sister-in-law. She is the last survivor of her immediate family; she reveals herself only in the measured doses of a person who has always been, will always be, in the public eye.

Then, deciding that Obama is the first candidate with the inspirational appeal of her father, she chooses to abandon her previous, above-it-all detachment from the hurly-burly of politics.

I know it's an emotional — dare I say "girly"? — reaction. But what a fitting coda to this modern fairy tale to have the little princess grow up to be a senator.

Dynasticism is one of the dominant emotions in 21st Century American politics. Barack Obama just found a more sophisticated way to position himself as a rightful dynastic heir than all the Bushes, Clintons, and Kennedys.