Larissa MacFarquhar's profile of Caroline Kennedy in the New Yorker includes several signs that Kennedy, as knowledgeable and public-spirited as she is, might not have been the best choice for US Senator.
Lawrence O'Donnell, "a friend of [Kennedy's] and a political analyst for MSNBC," is quoted several times at length (for reasons explained below). Sounding like Deval Patrick on a bad day, O'Donnell says that the press has it out for anyone who would actually be a good senator:
“The politics of campaigning are so simple: I’m going to beat you and leave you dead in a snowbank in New Hampshire and never look back. But in the Senate you can be trying to prevail over another senator on Tuesday afternoon whose vote you know you’re going to need on Wednesday afternoon for something else... So the personal qualities necessary for Senate work are politeness and charm and graciousness and generosity, which New York tabloids have no comprehension of."
The timing seems a little off for that complaint, given that Barack Obama emphasized much the same qualities in his winning presidential campaign (especially in constrast to the "leave you dead in a snowbank" reputation of Bill and Hillary Clinton). And when Obama -- and to a lesser extent, Patrick in Massachusetts -- decided that the press was too cynical to get with their message, they went around the traditional media by posting videos and senting messages directly to potential supporters over the net.
Caroline Kennedy, especially in light of her admiration of Obama, might have been better served by emphasizing that approach, instead going on a old-fashioned tour of upstate New York that was largely panned by the press. Trying to win a gubernatorial appointment through some high-profile endorsements and a few days of front-page newspaper coverage is a 20th-century strategy, and I don't think it's the only way to prove the qualities of politeness and graciousness.
O'Donnell also snipes at the woman that Gov. David Patterson tapped instead of Caroline, US Rep. Kirstin Gillibrand:
What you have is the daughter of a lobbyist, instead of the daughter of a former President or the son of a former governor. This is the hack world producing the hack result that the hacks are happy with.
I don't know Gillbrand enough to determine whether she's a hack. But where I come from, giving a job to someone because his or her parent was an elected official could be interpreted as hackery. At least, it's every bit as hackish as giving a job to the daughter of a lobbyist.
Finally, anyone who would condone the following might not be a good fit for public office:
Caroline Kennedy has always appeared to dislike the press. (She declined to be interviewed for this article.) Her friends understand that to speak about her in public would mean banishment. When she announced her bid for the Senate, she gave a few of her friends permission to speak with reporters, but several of those friends, after making the most anodyne or laudatory comments, panicked and withdrew them, or demanded anonymity. (This was no more than prudence: according to one biography, when a few of her brother’s friends spoke fondly of him to reporters, in the wake of his death, they were told they were no longer welcome at his memorial service.)