Let me join the unlikely duo of Bob Somerby and Ross Douthat in being embarassed that the Washington Post published this Ruth Marcus column on Caroline Kennedy potentially being appointed to Hillary Clinton's Senate seat. After noting that she "recoil[s] from political dynasties" and calling them "fundamentally un-American" (I agree!), Marcus proceeds to describe how the "fairy tale" appeal of Kennedy's appointment has won her heart:
What really draws me to the notion of Caroline as senator, though, is the modern-fairy-tale quality of it all. Like many women my age—I'm a few months younger than she—Caroline has always been part of my consciousness: The lucky little girl with a pony and an impossibly handsome father. The stoic little girl holding her mother's hand at her father's funeral. The sheltered girl, whisked away from a still-grieving country by a mother trying to shield her from prying eyes.
In this fairy tale, Caroline is our tragic national princess. She is not locked away in a tower but chooses, for the most part, to closet herself there. Her mother dies, too young. Her impossibly handsome brother crashes his plane, killing himself, his wife and his sister-in-law. She is the last survivor of her immediate family; she reveals herself only in the measured doses of a person who has always been, will always be, in the public eye.
...I know it's an emotional—dare I say "girly"?—reaction. But what a fitting coda to this modern fairy tale to have the little princess grow up to be a senator.
As Somerby writes, "Endlessly, the world is a novel for these elites—a pleasing story, a fiction, tale." But it's Douthat who nails what's so offensive and anti-democratic about the column:
This is, of course, a pretty good distillation of the case against dynastic politics: Namely, that it transforms the business of republican self-government into a soap opera, in which the public/audience thrills to the "intriguing subplots" involving a President's daughter, a President's wife, and a Governor's son who happens to be the President's daughter's sister's ex-husband ... and sighs, enraptured, at the "fairy tale ending" when the President's daughter grows up to have a Senate seat handed to her as a reward for having endorsed the President-elect. This sort of politics is entertaining to write about, which is one reason why fantasy sagas and Shakespeare are generally more interesting than Washington novels. But after twenty years with the same two families in the White House - which nearly became twenty-four (or twenty-eight) - for a political columnist to endorse a pointless escalation of dynastic politics because it fulfills the fairy-tale mythos her generation spun around a mediocre, tragically-murdered President and his good-looking family isn't "girly"; it's an embarrassment.
You can apply similar logic to the prospect of Chris Matthews using his celebrity and cable news platform to get the Democratic nomination against Arlen Specter in 2010 (or Al Franken, etc.). I should start a bipartisan anti-celebrity/dynasty PAC.