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Ackerman’s Chutzpah

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It is refreshing to see a politician with the courage to speak his mind. In December, U.S. Rep Gary Ackerman said he knew less about Caroline Kennedy than he does about Jennifer Lopez.

Caroline Kennedy, daughter of late President John F. Kennedy, leads the list of prospective candidates to replace U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton after she becomes the next Secretary of State.

Ackerman told a radio talk show that he does not know much about Kennedy “except that she has name recognition, but so does J.Lo. I wouldn’t make J.Lo the senator unless she proved she had great qualifications, but we haven’t seen them yet.”

His comments were not taken lightly nor should they be. Americans over 50 have a warm spot in their hearts for Caroline. They remember the tragic picture of her and her mother and brother at her father’s funeral. But most have no idea what she has done since becoming an adult.

It is a concern that Ackerman, who has been active in local, state and federal issues for decades, is not familiar with Caroline Kennedy’s accomplishments. By contrast, whether they liked her or not, New Yorkers knew what Clinton did and what she stood for before electing her. She, too, was an outsider.

Ackerman is miffed that Caroline’s handlers are asking reporters to submit questions in writing. He said the state needs somebody ready to fight in Washington. He added that the tragic role her family played in history does not qualify her for office. Her pedigree, he said, only goes so far in politics.

Caroline Kennedy met with Gov. David Paterson in December to discuss her interest in the seat. There are other worthy candidates, including state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo. So far, Paterson is keeping his cards close to his chest, saying he will not announce his decision until Clinton is confirmed. That is convenient, but not courageous.

It may be that Caroline Kennedy is a great choice to fill the seat. But how would anyone know? Our hats are off to a politician with the courage to say the emperor might not have clothes.

Posted 6:35 pm, October 10, 2011
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