• Avoiding the huddled mass
Emma Lazarus’ immortal poem “The New Colossus” is inscribed on the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor. It reads, in full:
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles.
“From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
Nowhere do I see any mention of admitting just any out-of-stater who has done little or nothing for the people of New York yet wants to use the state’s faded but still-revered political platform for their own personal political gain.
However, that’s what we keep getting. Bobby Kennedy, born, raised and schooled in Massachusetts, took advantage of New York’s liberal activists to grab a U.S. Senate seat as one step in his run for the presidency. Hillary Rodham Clinton, a Midwesterner with no fixed address, suddenly decided to become a New Yorker when it was convenient and a Senate seat was available.
Now we have another Kennedy, this one Caroline, daughter of John F., who thinks it might be kind of nice to take Hillary Clinton’s place as New York’s junior senator. The difference is that she’s lived much of her nearly 51 years in the Big Apple.
But who, besides the usual behind-closed-door maneuverers, asked her to be senator? She has done zero for the state as a whole, offers virtually nothing but the Kennedy name (as did her cousin Patrick who decided he wanted to become a congressman from Rhode Island and has served with a remarkable lack of distinction along with some embarassing late night escapades).
True, Caroline Bouvier Kennedy (her husband is Edwin Schlossberg, but she doesn’t use his surname) was born in Manhattan, and has spent her professional life as attorney/writer/education fundraiser working mostly there, and even served with distinction in some appointed and private roles, but she has never before shown a public interest in governance and certainly has no experience in the field.
Will she get what she wants, if it truly is what she wants? Kennedy offspring certainly have a way of having things fall in their laps. And it didn’t hurt that her first public presidential endorsement of anyone but her uncle Ted Kennedy was for Barrack Obama. It wasn’t just any old endorsement, either. It was one sure to resonate with the receiver of the praise, a man whose influence certainly extends already into the Governor’s Mansion in Albany from which the Senate appointment will be issued. To wit:
“I have never had a president who inspired me the way people tell me that my father inspired them. But for the first time, I believe I have found the man who could be that president — not just for me, but for a new generation of Americans.”
Caroline Kennedy may be one of those rare younger Kennedys, someone qualified by temperament and intelligenece for public service at the highest levels. However, starting at the top rather than letting those of us she seeks to represent in Washington, DC, see what she can do on a municipal or state level seems a bit too dismissive of the public and its growing distrust of government by cronyism.
What is it about the Kennedy clan that gives them such a sense of entitlement? And what is it about the power brokers who think that in a state of more than 19 million people we can’t find a single interested, qualified person to fill the remainder of Clinton’s unexpired term when she vacates the seat to become secretary of state?