The Kennedys May Be Cool and Loaded, But They Don't Rule This School

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By S.E. CuppConservative Commentator/Author, "Why You're Wrong About the Right"

The New York Post is reporting today that Caroline Kennedy is all but guaranteed to fill Hillary Clinton's senate seat, and that any attempts New York Governor David Paterson has made to look at other candidates have been merely for show.

[caption id="attachment_5757" align="aligncenter" width="251" caption="Caroline Kennedy (AP)"][/caption]

Governor Paterson is apparently worried that choosing someone else -- say, someone who's actually qualified -- would "'greatly embarrass' and 'entirely humiliate' Kennedy, anger her prominent political family and even offend President-elect Barack Obama."


And his duty, in filling this senate seat, should be to all New Yorkers. And he should be committed to finding the most qualified, prepared and, yes, deserving replacement. Attorney General Andrew Cuomo and Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney certainly fit that bill. Ms. Kennedy does not.

But the Kennedy's are exceedingly influential power brokers, and David Paterson will have to campaign for his job next year, so it seems as though he's banking on Caroline to help him win re-election if he does her this relatively gargantuan favor now.

Paterson wasn't elected to his current post either, so it's possible he's simply unaware that appointments aren't merely quid pro quos he can dole out (unless you live in Chicago, apparently) as future "you owe me's." But even if he doesn't inherently and instinctively understand that this appointment should be granted on merit alone, there is an abundance of evidence that picking Caroline is not what New Yorkers want.

Recent Marist College and Quinnipiac University polls each found that voters favored Cuomo to Kennedy, and that her popularity has been declining. Even worse, all this talk of Kennedy's potential appointment has apparently affected Paterson's own approval rating, which has dropped significantly in recent weeks.

Women's groups, which were predictably quick to call for another woman to replace Hillary Clinton, have largely endorsed Ms. Maloney, and Democrats have been increasingly vocal in their concerns with Kennedy in the wake of poor performances in television and print interviews. She has been criticized for being unavailable, reticent, and unprepared.

And she's made few friends outside of New York City, which, contrary to popular belief, is not New York's only relevant population. Nearly every major Upstate newspaper has endorsed other candidates or opposed Kennedy's selection, and she's had memorable -- for all the wrong reasons -- trips to parts outside of cushy and comfortable Manhattan where she's stumbled badly.

The irony, here, is palpable. We heard for eight years that President Bush was the lucky and dim-witted result of nepotism and cronyism, and then we turned around and rejected the accomplished governor of Alaska for her seeming lack of insider-ism, famous friends, and elite private schooling. But now it seems one call from a Kennedy and we're all back in high school, running errands for the popular crew in hopes that it will net a prom date in the future.

Didn't Governor Paterson ever watch "Can't Buy Me Love," that feel-good, after-Hughesian, 80s classic tale of geek-turns-chic? Dorky, bespectacled lawnmower boy, played by the now Mc-something-or-other Patrick Dempsey of "Gray's Anatomy," tries to buy his way into popularity -- and ends up broke, friendless and humiliated. But he learns a valuable lesson -- it's more important to be yourself, to be loyal to your true friends, to conduct yourself with dignity and generally to treat people the way you'd like to be treated, than it is to be popular or run with the cool crowd.

The Kennedy's may be cool, and they may be loaded. But they don't rule this school. New Yorkers do, and Governor Paterson would be wise to remember for whom he works. Ted Kennedy may ask for his lunch money, and Caroline might promise a date to next year's prom, but no amount of peer pressure should force David Paterson to play high school politics with our state.