Roundtable on Caroline Kennedy and the Senate

Roundtable on Caroline Kennedy and the Senate

FOX News Special Report With Brit Hume - December 16, 2008


MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, (I) NEW YORK MAYOR: Caroline Kennedy is a very experienced woman. She has worked very hard for the city. I can just tell you that she has made an enormous difference in New York City.

And clearly, being part of the Kennedy family, she has had lots of exposure. Her uncle has been s one of the best senators that we have had in an awful long time.

REP. GARY ACKERMAN, NEW YORK: I do not know what Caroline Kennedy's qualifications are, except that she has name recognition. But so does J-Lo, and I would not make J-Lo the senator unless she proved she had great qualifications. But we haven't seen them yet.


HUME: Two Democrats from New York-well, I guess that Bloomberg is a one-time Republican, now and Independent speaking highly of Caroline Kennedy. Gary Ackerman is an out and out Democrat.

She is running now to the extent that you can run for a gubernatorial appointment, to be the successor to Hillary Clinton, who will have to vacate her job to be secretary of state if confirmed.

Some thoughts on this now from Fred Barnes, Executive Editor of "The Weekly Standard," Mort Kondracke, Executive Editor of "Roll Call," and the syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer, all Fox News contributors.

This is kind of fun, isn't it, Fred?


But you have to start out acknowledging one fact, and that is that politics is unfair. People with famous names or from a famous background, they have an advantage. And I would have to say, if I were the governor of New York, a liberal Democrat, I would pick Caroline Kennedy for the Senate seat.

She has name identification. She does not have to worry about that. She can raise a ton of money just because of who she is, in the same way Hillary Clinton could to it. Any issue that she attaches herself to and talks about will become a bigger issue just because she is Caroline Kennedy.

And these members of Congress and these House members from New York ho think that, "Well, gee. I was in the state legislature, and I have been in the House for 10 terms, doing nothing very distinguished," that they have earned it. Well, that is not the way it works.

I remember when Howard Baker and Bob Dole and John Anderson back in 1980, they had all thought they had earned the Republican nomination for president, and what is this guy Ronald Reagan coming out of nowhere.

HUME: He had been governor for some time.

BARNES: I know he had, but what I am doing is pooh-poohing the notion that somebody earns it because they had in the legislature or the House, or so on.

Caroline Kennedy is at least as qualified as most of the members of the Senate. What can Susan Collins or Frank Lautenberg do that Caroline Kennedy can't?

MORT KONDRACKE, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, "ROLL CALL": The job does involve a certain amount of preparation, of knowledge of how to legislate, and stuff like that. She is going to have to learn a great deal.

She has got great advantages. She has good political genes. She has good political instincts. She leapt into the presidential race at just the right moment along with your uncle to push the nomination toward Barack Obama.

And she has done public service. She is an ally of Joel Klein, the New York's schools chancellor, who is trying to reform the place. She has raised about $7 million to help him hire qualified principles schools. She does have some experience. And she will certainly add luster.

And I think the crucial thing for Paterson will be who will best help his ticket, his election, in 2010. And it seems to me clearly Caroline Kennedy.

HUME: She would be at least as qualified as Ted Kennedy was when he was first elected all those years ago.

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: It's not a question of experience. You often get inexperienced candidates who come out of nowhere. You get rich businessmen and the occasional actor or sports star.

It's a question of entitlement. The only thing she has that makes her somebody to even be considered for this office is pedigree. I mean, I hate to be a good government scold, but I would think that one of the reasons for the American experiment is to abolish the idea of government by pedigree.

Now, of course, we have in history-- the Adams and the Harrisons, the Rockefellers, the Kennedys and the Bushes. But it seems a bit of an epidemic these days.

First of all, you have a senate stacked with plutocrats as a result of our campaign finance laws, which give an enormous advantage to anyone who is a rich. They run, and the opponent has to grubbily raise money, and you end up with a sizable number of very rich people coming out of nowhere in the Senate.

And what you also have is what we saw, as you said in the Kennedy case, where John Kennedy had his college roommate, Ben Smith II, sit in his seat until two years later until Teddy was old enough and had reached the age of 30 when he inherited it.

And Biden has done exactly that in Delaware. He has gotten a family retainer appointed now to the Biden seat who will keep it warm and will not run again when in two years the Biden son, who is not in Iraq, will return and take that seat.

Look, Caroline Kennedy is a worthy socialite. But if she wants it, she should run and not accept an appointment. It is OK to run on pedigree, but do it in an election and not in an appointment.

HUME: What do you think, Fred?

BARNES: She will not do that. There will be some incumbent that she will have run against in the primary.

HUME: You mean she wouldn't win?

BARNES: She might not--if Governor Paterson appoints somebody else, and that person has to run for election in 2010-

HUME: There will be an incumbent.

BARNES: Yes. She will not do that and shouldn't be asked to do that.

Sometimes the people come along in these family traditions turn out to be great. I mean, John Quincy Adams may not have been a great president. He was an awfully good secretary of state, and on and on.

Look, do not hold it against her that that is her name--

HUME: No way is it against her.

KRAUTHAMMER: Charles does, and people do because they don't like the idea of dynasties.

KONDRACKE: There is one answer to the dynasty issue. Barack Obama. No pedigree, middle name Hussein, president of the United States. This is still a meritocracy.

KRAUTHAMMER: Or change the Senate and call it the House of Lords. That's what it's become--inherited seats.


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