I am, however, developing sympathy for her as a pawn. To be sure, she walked into the current shitstorm over her “candidacy” (or whatever it is) to fill Hillary’s soon-to-be-vacated New York Senate seat with her eyes open. She’s a responsible adult. But she’s also schlepping around more myth and history and family legacy than just about anybody else alive, and it seems as though that’s being wielded against her by the dying patriarch of American political royalty in ways that are manipulative and cruel. One thinks of the Marion Davies character in Citizen Kane.
The whole foofarah has been, not surprisingly, catnip for commentariat gossip during the interregnum (even more than Blagogate, though perhaps a tad less than Warrengate). God forbid the lions of the Village should talk about policy, or the global economic crisis. And by all means, we must keep Favreaugate off the front pages. I mean, the boy mustn’t be distracted – he has to write the most importantest speech ever. (N.B., It’s been nearly four weeks now, and still no word from our Vote-Present-Elect.)
But putting the pundits’ blatherings aside, what are we to make of this odd, asymmetrical drama surrounding Caroline? To me, the key question is the issue of her motivation. Here is someone who has assiduously avoided public visibility for her entire life. It was worth a lot to her to avoid it -- taking a $1 salary in order not to provide financial disclosure. Despite being born into American royalty and then into a fairy-tale narrative of beauty and hope and loss, she deliberately and consistently refused to play the part assigned to her. And now, all of a sudden, she's throwing her hat into the ring?
Isn’t it obvious that there’s something wrong with this picture? That something else is going on? And is it either a surprise or at all inappropriate for reporters to probe that? Although some have criticized the Times’ reporters for pressing her to describe her “moment of decision," aren’t they, in fact, acting out of a reasonable skepticism that such a moment actually occurred? Doesn’t it, in fact, seem probable that she is being pushed into this by Uncle Teddy? As new information comes to light, it looks more and more as though Caroline’s own motives, passions, interests and ideas are the farthest things from some people’s consideration.
Members of my generation felt heartbroken and protective of her from the moment of that iconic scene at her father’s funeral. And then she lost her uncle. Now, she’s about to lose her other uncle. None of these powerful men has ever given much evidence of interest or concern about women’s or girls’ feelings, or identity.
If she is the prime mover here, and is serious about it, then she's both arrogant and doing a lousy job of promoting herself. But to my eye, the whole spectacle is most dispiriting in the way Caroline Kennedy is being used, rather than in how she is using.