Politics & Policy

Justice Kennedy

Sweet Caroline to the Supremes?

Barack Obama may not be a woman, but the man is a genius. As ink is spilled over the women his victory over Senator Hillary Clinton leave behind, he’s made it all better. He’s put on impenetrable armor. Barack Obama this week put Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg on his search committee for vice president.

Barack Obama — it’s a hunch, but mark my words, and don’t be fooled by Thursday night’s clandestine Beltway-area meeting — is not going to choose Hillary Clinton for his running mate. She’s got too many negatives, which, naturally include the name “Clinton” and potential Second Laddy, Bill. She’s an overshadowing presence who could make Obama look like the Clintons’ second fiddle.

And on a nebulous campaign of “change” and “hope,” unless you want to go back to a place called Hope — which would not be a change — why would you run with the Clintons?

Of the primary candidates, John Edwards could be a much more compelling bet (his most recently comments notwithstanding), if for no other reason that he’s got an attractive, empathetic family who looks good with Obama. Already Obama is being called the “new Camelot.” And that was even before Caroline’s official role. Add Edwards to the mix and you’ve got the new Camelot, the next generation. There are a lot of reasons Edwards isn’t an obvious choice, but the visuals work.

And the visuals also remind us what this ticket is about. Obama with his radical friends. John Edwards with his class warfare. And Caroline Kennedy, Supreme Court justice.

When you look at the daughter of the beloved late JFK, make no mistake that Barack Obama knows well what he is doing. Ted and Caroline have already passed him the torch. JFK’s time in office was cut too short. Ted never made it to the White House. Nor did RFK. JFK Jr. might be a senator today were it not for the tragedy that seems to always find the Kennedys. Obama, the new JFK, can give the Kennedys the romantic legacy some Americans would love them to have for sentimental reasons. Justice Kennedy, Sweet Caroline to the Supreme Court.

With Ruth Bader Ginsburg, American Civil Liberties Union vet, feeling “isolated” on the Court at age 75, she could be a prime candidate for retirement. Caroline Kennedy would be ideologically perfect for a president wanting to get another RBG — read: liberal, female, activist — on the Court. Once nominated by President Obama, no effective opposition would present itself; few in the Senate would dare deny her. She’s a lawyer, and has written books on law — including an ode to the all-important Right to Privacy. She’s even given John McCain her family’s “Profile in Courage” award. (Were he to be in the Senate when her name shows up for the confirmation roll, how would he vote?)

For his part, Obama has told us — or Planned Parenthood, to be exact — that he would appoint judges with “empathy.” No one is going to question that this last of the JFK clan, with her inner-city public-school funding and other charitable works fits his (completely inadequate and irrelevant) criteria.

For all his faults, John McCain has promised to nominate judicial candidates “with a proven record of excellence in the law, and a proven commitment to judicial restraint” — and not to rely on “a hunch, a hope, and a good first impression.” Or an American love affair with liberal activism?

The Obama move was brilliant — putting Caroline Kennedy in the position to deny Hillary Clinton the vice presidency. His thanks for all her invaluable work for Obama — including in no small way a late January “A President Like My Father” oped endorsing him — could be the Court. Why not, in a year where celebrity clearly trumps substance? Unmotivated conservatives, be warned — before it’s too late.

— Kathryn Jean Lopez is the editor of National Review Online.


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