Merciful Buddha on a saltine, this Caroline Kennedy claptrap has really crawled directly up this site's corn chute, hasn't it?
Who in the blue hell knew that would be the thing to reduce a group of reasonably intelligent people to such cranium-shattering lows?
I just want to say one thing before I get started and try to make some sense out of this:
First, I am not a New Yorker. Never have been one. So I don't really need to have an opinion on this. It's completely academic for me.
Second, not only don't I need to have an opinion, but I don't have an opinion. Maybe the fact that I'm somewhat detached from this whole sputum-storm is the reason why I'm able to see more than one side of it.
I understand both sides to this argument. Yes, it would be a shame for the Kennedy name alone to be the sole reason for getting a senate seat. You could say the name of any other prominent political family -- Note how I avoid the word "dynasty," which blows right up some people's skirts these days even though the Kennedys are nothing if not an American political dynasty.
However, that said, Caroline Kennedy might make a damn fine Senator. Is it really that bad of a thing that she's never before held public office? Do we really want to require her to hang around the same old spineless gastropods that we spend 85 percent of our time around here frothing mad at before we'll consider her a valid choice?
I get both sides of this argument. Really, I do.
Now, I'm not a fancy, big-city lawyer, but it seems to me that the people who should choose their representatives in the Senate should be the people who have to live with the decisions they make the most often.
There's a few states in the Union that don't allow appointments to fill vacant seats ever, under any circumstances. Take Alaska (please).
After Frank Murkowski, the former governor of that state appointed his own daughter to the very same senate seat he was leaving vacant, the voters of that state adopted a ballot initiative that prohibited any appointments, instead favoring special elections.
This is exactly why Sarah "Jesus is Just Super" Palin
will be would have been unable to select the replacement for Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Felon).
Now, this will be the first and last time that I use Alaska as an example for what I think should be done elsewhere. (Hey, I'm from Oklahoma. Everyone's got to look down on someone.) But it seems like special elections are more democratic than appointments and would result in a lot fewer headaches.
I'd have much preferred it, for example, if the people of Illinois could have just elected a new Senator rather than having the seat be put up for sale by some jackass with a case of helmet hair. And just like that, shenanigans sidestepped. How many other "favors-for-favors" arrangements have there been that haven't made the papers? Well, if more states required special elections, there'd be a lot fewer.
I'm not claiming to have all the answers here, but I try always to err on the side of the more democratic option. It's usually the best one.
UPDATE: Some of you are saying you like the special election idea, but they are too expensive for states to pay for -- especially nowadays. Well, this may sound mindlessly naive, but as I said, I try to err on the side of democracy.
Some things are priceless. Democratic government (that's small-d "democratic) is one of them. We send people off to die in wars ostensibly to preserve our democracy and defend others. So why should we sully that commitment with price-taggery?
I don't know what the sticker price is for a special election. I imagine it varies from state to state. But they should still be done. Appointments may be cheap, but democratic they are not.