Advice for Caroline Kennedy

Personally, I’m glad NY Governor David Paterson decided to choose a lesser-known New York politico for the Senate seat vacated by Hillary Clinton, passing over two leading celebrity pols: Caroline Kennedy and State AG Andrew Cuomo. It’s good to give new talent a chance. Whether upstate Cong. Kirsten Gillibrand will be able to handle to bright lights and unblinking eyes of the NY media, time will now tell.

Still, I sympathize for Caroline Kennedy. By every appearance, she seems a very decent private person who does a lot of good for important causes. But she allowed herself to be pressured into launching a dismal campaign w/o basic preparation, marked by poor staff work, and no clear message, hoping that her name, her place in the public heart as cute cuddly child of JFK, plus strong-arming by high-powered family backers like uncle Ted Kennedy, would make up for lack of qualifications. It created an image (fair or not) of an undeserving, spoiled celebrity demanding a prize she never earned.

Even fans of Kennedys (and I count myself one) cringed at the spectacle. She was simply the wrong Kennedy cousin for the job, since so many others have built strong records of public service over the years. Not surprisingly, it all failed.

So, on the day after it all collapsed, my advice for Caroline Kennedy is this:

First, accept failure as failure. Don’t gripe at the press or the governor. Don’t complain about mud-slinging. That’s all part of the game. The problem was on your side. Your basic campaign failed. If you ever expect to try again, you must now go back, thoroughly dissect what went wrong, and learn from it. Consider the whole thing as a tuition payment for a first-rate education in real-life politics.

Second, have a good laugh. Self-deprecating humor is the most healthy kind, both for your own psyche as well as public consumption. Your campaign’s collossal loss can soon make a very funny story for you to tell. And if you lead the laugh, it takes out the sting.

Third, close the door and scream at your advisors. They did a terrible job. Before sending you out before the press, why on earth did they not train you, prep you, make you practice in front of a camera, pepper you with tough questions, send you to campaign boot camp? It was their job to show you your weaknesses so your could fix them. (Like all those on-camera “you knows.”) Instead, they fed you to the lions and stood aside. It was their fault. Don’t let them off the hook.

Finally, go back to enjoying life. Your have a good one. That age-old wisdom is true: The best revenge is living well.

I wish best of luck to Caroline and Kirsten both. All the best. –KenA

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