Exclusive: Caroline Kennedy’s Treatment Sexist? Hardly.

by PAM MEISTER December 30, 2008

That didn’t take long. 

The so-called sexism that dogged Sarah Palin during her nine weeks on the campaign trail with John McCain has now surfaced in the Caroline Kennedy Senate seat brouhaha that has some pundits and New Yorkers up in arms.
In an article titled “Palin Sexism Redux: The Caroline Kennedy Qualifications Debate” in U.S. News and World Report, Peter Roff – former political director for GOPAC – compares the two situations thusly:
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 Paterson—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.
He then goes on to explain why, historically and constitutionally, Kennedy is more than qualified for the position she may soon be appointed to by New York Gov. David Paterson.
Of course, Roff is correct that Kennedy meets the bare bones requirements. And naturally, Paterson may select anyone he likes to replace Hillary Clinton in the event her nomination as Secretary of State is approved. Yes, Roff does touch on the idea that political dynasties are anathema for many Americans, but he’s missing the main point: it wasn’t sexism that Palin was up against, but elitism. The sexist comments about her motherhood being a barrier to doing a good job as vice president were just a sideline, permitted because she didn’t make the grade as far as elitists were concerned. Remember, Hillary Clinton also had to face some sexist blowback, but that was only after liberals and the lapdog media had decided that Barack Obama was their man.
All’s fair in love and politics. But let’s call a spade a spade, shall we?
Sure, both Palin and Kennedy are Washington outsiders. Despite her pedigree, Kennedy has led a quiet life away from the political spotlight, choosing instead to focus on family and charitable causes. And while Palin is a self-made politician, going from the city council to the mayor’s office to the governor’s mansion, it happened in Alaska. Alaska! Land of snow mobiles, caribou and not much else that can be discussed by the Georgetown cocktail party circuit. Can you imagine Palin and someone like Kathleen Parker discussing the merits of using a breech loading shotgun for hunting? Or even worse, that oogedy-boogedy religious stuff? But Parker, despite her claim that Kennedy has done little to deserve the post of Senator to date, can still rave about her motherhood, devotion to public education (which wasn’t fit for her own children, by the way) and her erudite ways.
I wonder if Parker, who finds Palin’s diction difficult to listen to, heard this fascinating interview with Kennedy:
Dominic Carter: Might you have any interests higher than the US Senate? I mean, might we see a Caroline Kennedy on the ticket someday?

Caroline Kennedy: (Laughs) Now, well, can we just, you know, get through this, like, you know, right here now? I mean, you know.
Like, wow.
Then we have people like Andrea Mitchell telling us that if we “just get to know” Kennedy, we’ll realize she knows what’s what. This is the same woman who suggested that Palin would appeal only to working class voters with no college education.  
And I’ve yet to see a Saturday Night Live skit parodying Kennedy’s slip into Valley Girl speak or her sudden (?) penchant for grilled cheese sandwiches, despite the same “outsider credentials” Roff says Kennedy shares with Palin. When I do, perhaps I’ll change my mind about my elitist charge.
Until then, let it be known that absolutely anyone can run for public office if he or she meets the basic criteria, such as age, residency, and all the rest. People do it all the time – and they sometimes win. Just look at Al Franken, who could be the next senator from Minnesota. But critics of Kennedy aren’t being sexist – they’re just playing politics.
Welcome to the big leagues, Mrs. Schlossberg.
Pam Meister is the editor for FamilySecurityMatters.org.

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