IS CAROLINE KENNEDY’S MARRIAGE IN TROUBLE

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Caroline Kennedy and Ed Schlossberg

BY DAVID PATRICK COLUMBIA

The big news was the announcement by Caroline Kennedy that she would no longer be seeking an appointment as Senator to replace Hillary Clinton. She cited “personal reasons.” Which is politico talk for “no comment.”

This was followed by all kinds of speculation as to “why” she had changed her mind. The three reasons in speculating were that 1. She’d learned she wasn’t going to be appointed and so to save face, she withdrew; 2. Her marriage is in trouble and she didn’t want to go there publicly; and 3. She couldn’t take the heat of public office.

I’m guessing here but I’d say number 2 is not the reason. There have been many rumors over the past few years about her marriage to Mr. Schlossberg and a relationship with a very prominent New Yorker who has recently left his wife. Anything is possible when it comes to marriages and relationships, as we all know but I don’t think that such a thing would have affected Caroline Kennedy’s decision to stay out of the public forum even if it were true.

Not long ago I had a conversation with a close friend of the lady. I asked this person what he thought of her accepting an appointment to the Senate. He told me that he thought it would be a great thing for everyone because “she’s intelligent, she’s passionate, she has integrity, she’s committed and she really cares.” His opinions were so positive that I asked him if I could quote him, just as he said it without any slant at all. He thought about it – because he’s a loyal friend who cares about her – and he asked me not to. Her friends do not talk about her. Period.

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Ironically they talk about everybody else. Just like the rest of us. But with CK, it’s a no-no. I must say, she has devoted friends who are totally trustworthy. It says more about the woman than about the friends. Her brother grew up in the same circumstances and was Out There. No doubt he appreciated his privacy as well. And from the sound of it, he had more to worry about because he was so public and so sought after. My point is, it’s not about the life, it’s about the individual.

From the beginning of her interviews on camera she seemed very ill-at-ease with her chosen position (to actively campaign for the appointment). At fifty-one, she’s maintained a very low public profile all her life. This obviously suits her. We don’t know what the experience of Being Caroline Kennedy is and we will never know unless she tells us and that is highly unlikely. She knows, obviously; and there’s a certain aspect of it that is uncomfortable with the whole perception. Promoting herself in public does not suit her.

Politicians, are performers, entertainers, exhibitionists, egomaniacs; whatever. They are motivated to be in public. They LOVE the energy of the admiration, idolatry, attention, special favors, special privileges, whatever. They’re actors on the stage and it’s a big stage. They’re thick-skinned, even when they don’t think they are. They have to be. Caroline Kennedy’s father loved being at the center of things. He didn’t look like he was so comfortable with the glad handing part at times but he was willing to bear it, and he did it. And the center loved him. His daughter doesn’t fit that bill.

It may be that Barack Obama’s candidacy inspired her as it did so many millions of other Americans. It may be that she, like so many of us, was so impressed with the possibilities that his political presence aroused, that she too wanted to help his great political movement. Her public support for him, calling on her father’s politically and historically sacred memory was sincere and heartfelt. It may be that she too thought for a minute there she could be a good senator and serve the country.

Public service is a thought that has crossed the mind of many of us at one time or another. It’s a good thought, a high-minded thought. Some of us have even put it into action and some of us, like Barack Obama have actually succeeded in achieving it. However, Caroline Kennedy, coming from the background of “insidership” that is her heritage, knows more than most of us about the nature of the world that she was aiming toward, and it’s not all honorable distinction.

Politicians rate low on the admiration scale because so many of them do not measure up. It is the politicians who have opened the public coffers to the bankers, lawyers and lobbyists which has led our fiancial system to the brink. They have not served the public good in many situations. Fortunately we can vote them out of office as well as in.

Several years ago I went to a luncheon at the University Club where several senators were in attendance. I accepted the invitation for one reason. When I got there, I asked one of the hostesses if she’d point out a senator who was a Democrat. She pointed to a senator from a western state. I went up and introduced myself. He was very gracious. I told him my party affiliation was the same as his and that I wanted to ask him a question about his job. Shoot, was his immediate response.

I told him that one of things that really troubled me about Washington and politics in general was the apparent ability of lobbyists to not only sway public opinion but also to sway the legislators into voting in programs or contracts that would profit the lobbyist’s clients. Like banks, like corporations with the taxpayers footing the bill.

Why, I wanted to know from this senator, was it possible for a corporate entity to give $100,000 and end up with a billion dollar contract of some kind. “I can’t do that. I don’t even have the money to do it,” I said.

I pointed out that my small political contributions got me nothing but perhaps the candidate’s winning. Nor did I expect anything personally. Furthermore, I reminded the senator, that it was my money, tax-payer money, that he was voting to give to someone else for a contract, a road, a bridge, a plane, a program on their terms. Why does this happen?

His answer? He stared at me for a minute. He was flummoxed. And then, almost apologetically he said: “I don’t know,” I don’t know.

How does this relate to Caroline Kennedy and her withdrawal from seeking the Clinton senate seat? Maybe after her brief and not very comfortable foray into the public forum, into the goldfish bowl existence that her forebears bore with what looked like apparent ease, maybe she just decided she didn’t have the stomach for it, and that at this age, decided she never would. Maybe the integrity her friend cited in her character, got the best of her. Under the circumstances, who could blame her?

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