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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Should Caroline ‘Pull A Cheney’?

A little addition to the veepstakes hysteria Ed referenced yesterday: I was roundly ridiculed for floating an idea in conversation with friends a few months ago, probably with good reason. Now, Michael Moore is putting it out there via email and his website post “Caroline: Pull a Cheney! An Open Letter to Caroline Kennedy (head of the Obama VP search team) from Michael Moore.
Yes, I know. An Obama-Kennedy ticket would be doubling down on the perception that the Dem ticket’s experience is limited. But jeez, the idea is appealing on a number of levels. As Moore puts it in a couple of nut graphs:

What Obama needs is a vice presidential candidate who is NOT a professional politician, but someone who is well-known and beloved by people across the political spectrum; someone who, like Obama, spoke out against the war; someone who has a good and generous heart, who will be cheered by the rest of the world; someone whom we’ve known and loved and admired all our lives and who has dedicated her life to public service and to the greater good for all….That person, Caroline, is you.
…And Barack, if you’re reading this, you probably know that she is far too humble and decent to nominate herself. So step up and surprise us again. Step up and be different than every politician we have witnessed in our lifetime. Keep the passion burning amongst the young people and others who have been energized by your unexpected, unpredicted, against-all-odds candidacy that has ignited and inspired a nation. Do it for all those reasons. Make Caroline Kennedy your VP. “Obama-Kennedy.” Wow, does that sound so cool.

Kennedy’s gender is a plus, although you couldn’t blame feminists for complaining that more experienced women were passed over. Yet, Kennedy, more than anyone in her family, evokes the passionate spirit of hope her father, JFK and uncle RFK embodied so elegantly. She has natural dignity and real class (in the positive sense of the term), elements in short supply in American politics. She is extremely bright, intensely patriotic and deeply concerned about civil liberties. Her speech to the 2000 Democratic convention was a smash, as much because of her ability to personify the renewal of lost hope as the content of her speech. Talk about mediagenic. Romney or Pawlenty would look like moral midgets compared to her, and it would be fun to watch exasperated Republicans try to attack her without looking creepy.
When called to serve, the Kennedys have always answered. But no, it ain’t gonna happen, since Ms. Kennedy seems too level-headed to do crazy, even if Obama’s team went for it. It’s too late for a trial balloon to do any good, with Obama’s decision expected any hour now. Yet Moore’s proposal resonates because Kennedy symbolizes a time when all Americans could be rightly proud of their President, however idealilzed were our perceptions back then. She bears that precious memory for the nation with both humility and poise.
It’s not too late, however, to put Ms. Kennedy’s impressive skill set to good use. If Obama decided to embrace the interesting idea put forward by Paul Waldman, to name his cabinet and some key appointees in advance of the election, or even if he does it later in keeping with tradition, Caroline Kennedy would make an excellent U.N Ambassador. Having her represent us at the United Nations would signal that America is determined to earn the respect and admiration of the world, not through militarism and intimidation, but by providing moral leadership and a higher level of humanitarian concern.
It’s often said that America lost some of its spirit when JFK was assassinated, and the sense of loss deepened with the assassinations of MLK and RFK. Obama’s pending nomination has helped reclaim some of that spirit. A leadership role like that of U. N. Ambassador for Ms. Kennedy would be yet another step forward — and it would also be smart politics.

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