Thursday, January 15, 2009

Of Kennedys and Kooks

The amount of animosity held by the extremist wing of the Republican party for the liberal wing of the Democratic party never ceases to amaze me. They will attack a liberal for any number of things. They appear to be most fond of attacking a liberal for any position that seems to support abortion, human rights, gun control, the abolition of the death penalty or all sorts of programs that would support the needy and gasp! raise taxes.

It should come as no surprise that the far-right extremist wing of the Republican party views the Kennedy family as the ultimate symbol of liberalism. However, it is a bit surprising that Democrats and Republicans have objected so venomously to the possibility of Caroline Kennedy taking the seat of Senator and soon-to-be Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. I've read the outraged diaries at dailyKos, even some from Markos himself, berating Caroline Kennedy and the possibility of her replacing Clinton, but I haven't figured out why the distrust of Caroline on the part of hardened Democrats.

My confusion appears to dissipate when it comes to understanding why the conservatives can't stand Caroline. It's all about money and power (I can't quite resist the urge to breakout in song here, "Power and the money, money and the power, minute after minute, hour after hour..."). There are some who apparently continue to view the Kennedy family as a direct threat to future conservative rule/power, some like Zeb Bell who had this to say about a potential Caroline Kennedy appointment:
"I am going to sound very biased, I am going to sound very discriminatory against this person when I give this little diatribe and I hope I do because I mean it. Caroline Kennedy has no business being a United States senator. Caroline Kennedy has no business selling ice cream cones. Caroline Kennedy is the most unqualified person, not very smart, not at all articulate and certainly not qualified on any of the issues that are approaching the United States or threatening the United States at this particular time...Look at the incompetency we have in government today. I mean we are possibly going to get stuck with a sick, disgusting comedian, if you want to call him that, with one of the filthiest most vile mouths in the industry, Al Franken... We've got the likes of Barney Frank, that ought to spoil your eggs after breakfast and Blagojevich and all these other people and then you want to throw somebody who is totally incompetent into the mix as a freshman senator from New York, Caroline Kennedy? Please! Give me a break! What is going on in this country?!" (Zeb Bell, "Zeb at the Ranch," 12.30.08)
It is good to see that Zeb Bell has gone back to hating liberals, gays, winners (in the case of Franken) and ultimately, logic. I was afraid his hatred had been so long directed at President-elect Obama that we'd never return to his policy of equal-opportunity hatred.

Now, before you even bother asking the question about how the conservatives can see Caroline's minimal press coverage of late and the softball questions lodged at her as a complete incompetence and they never could see Sarah Palin as unqualified, unintelligent or inarticulate, here is Zeb's answer:
"How dare anybody compare Sarah Palin to Caroline Kennedy! Caroline Kennedy can't say two words without going "uh" or "you know." Sarah Palin is extremely articulate and she had answers on the topics even though the liberal left didn't like the answers."
Yes, a caller brought up the comparison (of course attributing it to hate-filled liberals) to Sarah Palin and ole Zeb nearly blew his top. Where Republicans and Democrats alike questioned Sarah Palin's experience, they are now questioning Caroline Kennedy's qualifications outside of her role as, well, a fourth generation Kennedy. Palin bounced around from college to college, finally attaining a degree. Caroline Kennedy is a graduate of Concord Academy, Radcliffe College, and Columbia's School of Law. If we're going to have a real discussion about intelligence based on education, Sarah Palin doesn't hold a candle to Caroline Kennedy.

Something tells me this entire argument has nothing to do with intelligence or education, though.

Enter frequent "Zeb at the Ranch" guest, Sharon Hardy-Mills, also from the 12.30.08 show:
"[Caroline's] the only way they can keep the Kennedy name in [Congress] and it's all about money and they want to protect their investments, their interests in what the government does as regarding how they do their business... That's the only reason they want her in there, as a mouth piece. They'll groom her as soon as they get her in, in fact they already have... That's exactly what they want. They want to keep that Kennedy name in there to protect their monies. They don't want the government, they don't want the people in the world to find out how bad a people those Kennedys are, how bad the mafia is.

"She's just going to be a mouth piece, or a seat, so they an maintain their, and I call them the mafia because they are, maintain that mafia attitude, that mafia rule that they've got back there."
If all else fails, conservatives seem to think if you call a person a terrorist, a Muslim, or a member of the mafia it will result in political defeat. Though it does not appear to enter the equation that President Bush has referred to a lot of people as terrorists and last I checked his political career and legacy is smoldering.

What Sharon, Zeb and I'm sure a large number of other people don't seem to understand is that this has nothing to do with the Kennedy political dynasty. Caroline is not their last hope, as Sharon suggests. Have we forgotten the other rather political members of the fourth generation of Kennedys? Kathleen Kennedy Townsend has not gone quietly into the night since her service as lieutenant governor of Marland; Maria Shriver remains the first lady of California and her brother Tim the chairman of Special Olympics; Joe Kennedy served in the U.S. House; Robert Kennedy continues on the lecture circuit, a prominent environmentalist and lawyer; Patrick is currently serving in the U.S. House; and, Rory Kennedy is a leading documentary film maker with recent releases exploring the Abu Ghraib and the career of Helen Thomas. To say Caroline is the last hope for continuing the Kennedy legacy is simply a mistake.

The Kennedy family is one that both values public service as well as promotes it from within their own clan. In all my Kennedy research, perhaps the most striking quote I've come across regarding the service of the Kennedys was this from patriarch Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr. in the New York Times:
"Jack doesn't belong anymore to a family, he belongs to the country. That's probably the saddest thing about all this. The family can be there, but there is not much they can do for the President of the United States." (Interview, 1.8.61)
The Kennedy family, Caroline included, has devoted their money and the members of their family to the cause of public service. Whether the conservatives want to believe it or not, is another matter. Caroline Kennedy is something most Americans are not--willing to serve. Republicans or Democrats alike can say she isn't qualified, I say, take a look at what she has done with and for the Kennedy Foundation as well as the Kennedy Library and Museum. They may say she isn't articulate, I say, read her books. And if they want to talk about Caroline Kennedy's intelligence in an effort to berate her, I say, they're out of their league.

What happened to thanking those who are willing to devote their lives to public service? Oh, that's right, we would rather call them pinkos, terrorists, Marxists, mafia men and god forbid, liberals.

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