My boss, Tom Waseleski, raises a lot of questions (see below) about just what qualifications Caroline Kennedy could bring if she is appointed to fill Hillary Clinton's seat as a U.S. senator from New York. While I agree that a famous name doesn't automatically qualify somebody for office, I don't think it should rule her out either.
If Caroline Kennedy didn't understand politics, she would never have issued her artfully written endorsement of Barack Obama in The New York Times just when his campaign needed a significant boost. She followed that up with a cross-country push on his behalf, taking on a public political role that she had previously avoided.
She won wider attention when she was hired, at no salary, to rejuvenate the New York City public school system's private fund-raising effort. And, while she essentially was just filling in for her Uncle Teddy on the search committee for a new director of the Harvard University Institute of Politics, she didn't take a back seat in the process.
Ms. Kennedy knows her way around board rooms and high society, sure. But who says she won't play well among voters across the vast and diverse state of New York? (Fact is, a candidate from the state probably would be well if she only could roundly beat any opponent among voters in the five boroughs of the city.)
The only preparation - or the best preparation - for the U.S. Senate doesn't have to come from working up through the ranks of lower political offices.
And if she's appointed to finish out Hillary Clinton's term, Ms. Kennedy will have to prove herself with voters in short order, in 2010 and again in 2012.