HERTZBERG AND KENNEDY.

Hendrik Hertzberg tries to make an affirmative case for appointing Caroline Kennedy to the Senate, which is a relief from all the "but lots of people in the Senate suck too" responses by her supporters to her critics:

To harp a bit on the theme of my current Comment, one of the plus sides of getting a senator by appointment is that he or she doesn't have to “earn” it—i.e., doesn't have to spend years begging for money over the phone, doesn't have to establish “roots” in some Podunk locality at the cost of forgoing any understanding of the rest of the world, doesn't have to make nice with local realtors and the like—in short, doesn't have to have organized his or her entire life around the American way of office-seeking. This makes it possible, of course, for an appointed senator to be an absolutely clueless nonentity. But it also makes it possible, at least in theory, for an appointed senator to be interesting in a way that adds some spark or variety to the institution.

This is fine as far as it goes, but Kennedy will still have to spend the next four years begging for money. And the affirmative case for her unorthodox accomplishments is pretty thin. (Hertzberg: "I think Caroline would be in the second category. She is intelligent,
sophisticated, educated, and public-spirited. Yes, she is somewhat shy.
But don’t shy persons deserve representation, too?" -- Not that convincing.) Really, as the Comment makes clear, Hertzberg makes the case for appointing non-elected-officials, not for appointing Kennedy. And that's the problem. Somehow the debate has become "Kennedy: acceptable or unacceptable?" rather than "Kennedy: better than all 20 million or so people in the state?"

--Sam Boyd

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