December 29, 2008


Palin Sexism Redux: The Caroline Kennedy Qualifications Debate (Peter Roff, December 29, 2008, US News)

Coming from outside the political class but not—unusually for this particular Senate seat—from outside the state, Caroline Kennedy is a link to both a glorious time in our nation's past and to a postpartisan hope for the future that began with the Obama campaign. Very much her mother's daughter (recall that Jackie Kennedy tried very hard to stay out of the public spotlight after leaving Washington and did much to shield her children from it), Caroline Kennedy is both a familiar face and a new political commodity.

She has entered the arena and is traveling around New York to introduce herself to the electorate and to "listen." Her detractors, and their number seems to increase daily, are attempting to derail her bid to win the appointment from Gov. David Patterson—who is himself both an unelected chief executive and a "legacy" in New York Democratic political circles. In an effort to stop her appointment, they have focused on the idea that she lacks the qualifications to be a U.S. senator.

Having just been through this over the question of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's candidacy for vice president, we are again faced with the prospect of career partisans attacking a woman who has just entered the arena from outside it—way, way, outside it.

In much the same way that black politicians, at least prior to Obama's election, were damned with faint praise when cited for their "eloquence," the overarching focus on "qualifications"—especially as they apply to women seeking elective office—is little more than an attempt to score a few quick, easy points and push them out of the way. It is unseemly, and it is wrong. should be noted that she has in the past not even bothered to vote in at least one election for the seat she now desires, whereas Ms Palin was the only one on the national tickets this fall who actually had the executive experience the presidency requires.

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 29, 2008 6:36 PM
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