Kennedy’s Ever-Expanding Laundry List of Political Faux Pas

Perhaps I lost the holiday spirit too soon, but let's just admit it — Caroline Kennedy is blowing it.

A new national poll shows the country split down the middle on whether Kennedy should be appointed by the governor of New York to replace Hillary Clinton in the Senate. Literally the angel of the Kennedy clan, all Camelot and no courtrooms. Influential endorser of popular President-elect Barack Obama. Still the public is split — and it's no surprise.

Kennedy has insisted she is not campaigning for an appointment, but went public to say she wanted it, hired a staff and went on a tour of upstate New York. There she tried dodging the press, eventually relenting to take questions and say pretty much nothing. After avoiding interviews and getting criticized for it, she sat down with The New York Times and some other outlets last weekend to declare, "I wouldn't be here if I didn't think I would be the best."

While she revealed some policy positions placing herself to the left of Obama, Kennedy is still refusing to disclose her personal finances and other personal information, claiming she would only if picked. While initially stating her intention to run for the seat in 2010 even if she isn't appointed now, Kennedy has retreated and says she will just support whoever gets the job.

Finally, when asked to describe the moment she decided she wanted to serve in the Senate, Kennedy bristled and said, "Have you guys ever thought about writing for, like, a woman's magazine or something?" and added snidely, "I thought you were the crack political team."

Which leads to several questions — how badly would she really want it and why would she be the best? How could Kennedy, of all people, not know that seeking office is actually — unfortunately — a political endeavor? The public servant part comes later, and for some politicians never.

Responding to questions from the media is a way to help the voters get to know you; refusing to respond gives the voters the wrong message. If Kennedy is trying to win a debate about why she isn't seeking the seat solely on the basis of her lineage and last name, why wouldn't she be trying to help New Yorkers know as much as they can about her, in as enthusiastic a manner as possible? If she had, she wouldn't have to read lines like the one from Michael Goodwin's Daily News column, in which he wrote, “Kennedy is not ready for the job and doesn't deserve it. Somebody who loves her should tell her. Her quest is becoming a cringe-inducing experience, as painful to watch as it must be to endure."

I found it objectionable when Hillary's supporters were openly dumping on Kennedy, comparing her to Jennifer Lopez. But now that she has revealed just how distant she intends to remain, she is playing right into those critics’ hands. Recall that Hillary Clinton won Massachusetts on Super Tuesday despite Sen. Edward Kennedy's (D-Mass.) endorsement of Barack Obama just beforehand. The Clintons must secretly be enjoying this — it may be Obama's Democratic Party now, but the Clintons, and not the Kennedys, are clearly second in command.

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