A great deal of fog surrounds the astonishing decision of Caroline Kennedy, released at the midnight hour, to withdraw from the selection process for New York’s open Senate seat. While titillating rumors swirl, hard facts are few and far between. So I will defer analysis until a later time.
But I can say that this looks like another instance life imitating art. The rich and privileged Kennedy family, whose fortunes zoomed at roughly the same time the mysterious Jay Gatsby was trying to crash the social scene on the Gold Coast of Long Island*, has been making waves in American society for nearly a century. And those waves look rather dangerous. Joe Kennedy pushed the envelope of the role of money in American politics. JFK introduced the icon, celebrity-oriented model that again captivated the American political scene in 2008. Ted Kennedy came to symbolize the existence of two legal systems, one for ordinary people and one for people like him at Chappaquiddick. Both Ted and Caroline bestowed their imprimatur on Barack Obama, a critically important endorsement given the role of the superdelegates in the Democratic party system.
And now Caroline’s withdrawal is creating shock waves on New York’s political scene. Given that she has always known about whatever it was that pushed her to withdraw, the inevitable question arises: why the hell did she ever toss her bonnet into the ring in the first place? Is this just another manifestation of Kennedy hubris, a confidence that special rules will always be activated to let them get away with it, whatever it may be?
One also wonders what careers have been derailed, perhaps permanently, by Ms. Kennedy’s dilettante foray into politics. Surely some contenders were afraid of the formidable Kennedy juggernaut and kept their distance from the Senate sweeps. Now it may be too late.
The hubris of the powerful. The tragic Gatsby, who could never fit in, would understand. Let alone poor Myrtle, literally run over by the insouciant and shallow rich, personified by the reckless driving of Daisy Buchanan.
* I grew up just a short drive from Great Neck and Manhasset, which are the probable locales of noveaux riche West Egg and Old Money East Egg, respectively. Our suburban development was built on land once occupied by estates at the southern border of the Gold Coast. Ironically, this is where the glaciers stopped growing and from which they receded during the great warming some 20,000 years ago. Those damn Flintstones were so irresponsible.
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Originally posted at The Minority Report