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Dowd's bogus case for Kennedy

In its sharp deconstruction of today's Maureen Dowd column--which attempts to make the case for Caroline Kennedy as U.S. senator--Gawker rightly notes that Dowd seems to have a double standard regarding the thin resumes of Kennedy and one Sarah Palin.

Undiscussed, though, is the bogus argument Dowd uses to close out her piece. Here it is:

Sitting in the Senate gallery on Tuesday as senators were sworn in by Dick Cheney, I saw plenty of lawmakers who had benefited from family.

Two Udalls were being sworn in, under the watchful eye of Stewart Udall. Mark Begich, the new senator from Alaska, is the son of a former Alaska congressman. The classy Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, son of the late Gov. Robert Casey, was there in a festive pink tie. John McCain, whose wife’s money and Arizona pull made his Senate election possible, looked on with a smile. Hillary, whose husband paved the way for her to join this club and run for president, chatted with colleagues. Jay Rockefeller wandered about, as did Chris Dodd, son of Senator Thomas Dodd. And Teddy Kennedy, walking with a cane, worked the room with his old brio.

It isn’t what your name is. It’s what you do with it. Or, in the case of W., don’t. 

Here's the problem: Mark and Tom Udall won election to the Senate after previously winning election to Congress. Mark Begich won election to the Senate after previously winning election to the Alaska Assembly and Anchorage mayoralty. Bob Casey won election to the Senate after previously winning election as Pennsylvania's auditor general and, later, treasurer. John McCain benefitted from his wife's connections, but still won election to the Senate. Ditto for Hillary Clinton, and Jay Rockefeller (who'd previously won election as West Virginia's governor), and Chris Dodd, and Ted Kennedy.

In short: it's not Kennedy's family ties that have some of us irked. It's that those ties could give Kennedy--who's never held any kind of elected office before--a seat in the U.S. Senate without a single vote being cast.

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