Caroline Kennedy never grew up, not for me. She will always be that beautiful child who, carefree and happy, went romping around the While House along with her brother John John back when her father was president. Now there’s talk about naming her senator, representing New York. Then there’s talk that she’s not up to the task for lack of experience.
People say she’s never been in politics. So? All the more reason to give her that seat. We know about people “in politics.” Check out Illinois, for starters. New York itself had a governor who was booted out of office for bad behavior. It’s about time we put someone in office, senator or otherwise, who’s unaffiliated with this or that political machine. (“If you ever inject truth into politics you have no politics” – Will Rogers.)
Tell me she’s a Democrat which IS a political machine and I say, so what – we all have to be something. But as far as I know, she owes no favors, she’s untainted by “friends” and “cronies,” which means, again, as far as I know, that she’s clean. That’s rare for a politician – but here’s the charm. She is no politician.
That’s been the problem. We’ve had too many politicians getting into politics. It’s time to give someone else a chance; you and me type people.
Granted, she is not you and me. She’s Kennedy royalty and for some people that’s too much. So here I plead guilty upon a sentimental attachment to Caroline and to anything that speaks of Kennedy and the 1960s when, as just a minute ago, I spoke of her romping carefree and happy.
Those may not have been your 1960s but they were mine, up to November 22, 1963, when, in a split second, it all came crashing down, symbolized by Jackie still soaked in blood as LBJ was sworn into office. Perhaps the final symbol, marking the ending of an era, was Baby John John’s salute at his father’s coffin.
But before all that we romped all right. I’ll leave it to others to remember JFK’s demerits, like the Bay of Pigs fiasco and the Cuban Missile Crisis and his un-readiness to meet the Soviets. As for me, I remember those couple of years as hip and sexy. America was young and playful. In my reveries I choose culture over politics, a culture of dreams, promises and youthfulness, yes, a new frontier.
I recall, in no particular order or reason, the Rat Pack, Marilyn Monroe, touch football, the fitness craze, those flirtatious press conferences, rock and roll and Beethoven in the White House, the Beatles, the Peace Corps and the call to reassert ourselves. It was good to be an American. But most of all, I remember JFK and Jackie. They were beautiful. They were adored around the world and we adored them here as well, not for the politics, but for the glamour.
JFK had a way with words and he sure had a way with women. But let’s not talk about that. We won’t even talk about the teetering marriage or of the election itself that needed help from Chicago’s cemetery wards. Please; no details. We won’t even talk about bomb shelters and World War Three coming at us from moment to moment. We still had a blast with Vaughn Meader, hula hoops, Barbie Dolls and Davy Crockett – all that as Khrushchev declared “We will bury you.”
Let’s remember that once upon a time we dreamed. We had movie stars running our country. As I wrote once before (in “The Days of the Bitter End”), “Not since Washington and Jefferson had America felt such a surge of renewal as embodied in this president and his even more glamorous First Lady. Together they gave us style, romance, adventure, a vision of glittering greatness without end. JFK was more than a mortal in terms of America. He was a star!”
What’s wrong with stardom? I’ll take that over politics any day. What’s wrong with the 1960s? Plenty. But still, it WAS morning in America!
JFK used to delight us with those images of his kids fooling around in the presence of international dignitaries. We were thrilled at such political incorrectness; it was downright hip. This is no facsimile, America’s Caroline. My gawd, this is a daughter of John F. Kennedy. JFK is still in the building.
Caroline Kennedy is a pure child of the 1960s. She’s a reflection of the innocence we once shared, those years when we romped for a brief shining moment. So yes, let’s give her a chance. She can’t do much worse than what we have right now, those Crooks Are Us gang who keep plunging us to new lows.
I admit that all this is but a dream. Then again, I too am a child of the 1960s.
[Addendum: Richard Nixon lost to JFK by the slimmest margin in history. Nixon’s friends wanted him to demand a recount, but Nixon refused on the grounds that it would disrupt the country. Give this man Nixon some credit for his own moment of glory and greatness.]
About the author: Jack Engelhard’s factual-novel THE DAYS OF THE BITTER END traces JFK and his generation. Engelhard’s latest novel, THE BATHSHEBA DEADLINE, places journalism at the center of our war on terror. Engelhard wrote the international bestselling novel INDECENT PROPOSAL that was translated into more than 22 languages and turned into a Paramount motion picture starring Robert Redford and Demi Moore. Engelhard can be reached at his website www.jackengelhard.com.