Carolyn. Caroline. Carolyn. Caroline.(I feel like David Letterman at the Oscars: Uma. Oprah. Uma. Oprah.) Carolyn Maloney is just one of a slew of career politicians who are now up against Caroline Kennedy for Hillary Clinton's Senate seat. And if I were Carolyn & Co., I would be so not happy. [caption id="" align="alignright" width="216" caption="Rep. Carolyn Maloney, an accomplished legislator, may be about to discover that the playing field isn't level. "]
Still the First Daughter to many of us, Caroline Kennedy uses her celebrity to attract attention to various causes. Photo by Andrew Schwartz. Think of it this way: you pay your dues, have a track record with a string of accomplishments, then when the opportunity arises for a real bump in title and responsibility?the boss's daughter shows up and wants the job. Or in this case, the quintessential First Daughter shows up; the one whose young, beautiful family once exemplified hope. See Carolyn & Co., you are not really running against Caroline, you are running against the memory of her handsome and charismatic father, as well as her iconic mother. "You knows" aside, Jack's appeal and Jackie O's style, dignity and poise had to rub off. Caroline is the last hope to fulfill the dream of what might have been. Even though Gov. David Paterson claims she's not the frontrunner, can we stop pretending and accept the inevitable?: Caroline's one Camelot scepter away from being crowned. That's right, Carolyn & Co., life's not fair. The playing field isn't level. You were robbed. And now, sincere thanks for all your hard work. We hope you will continue in your current position where we know you will keep up the good work. Your resume will remain on file in case something else should come up for which someone with your credentials would be well suited. Moving on, let's have a moment of silence for Caroline's detractors (who think they have a prayer), like the Congressman from Queens who made the J. Lo crack or the people comparing her to Sarah Palin, claiming that she was revealing where she stood on the issues. (Did anyone really think her "stands" would be different from any other Democrat?) So she came out and proclaimed her positions: pro gay marriage and anti-school vouchers. Wow, who would have guessed? I know I'll sleep better. As for her lack of political street cred? A Kennedy doesn't know about politics like the Trump kids don't know real estate. What do you think she's been listening to for the past half century at all those family functions?
[/caption] Even with the criticism, it has to influence the governor's decision that so many think she has something to offer. First off, Caroline uses her celebrity to attract attention to causes, such as New York City Public Schools, not herself. She's one of the few (only?) New York heiresses who has not embarrassed us with a sex tape, a pink Bentley, a feud with a female relative over a stolen fiancé, or the coup de grace of socialite indulgences, her own handbag line. She is also not a brand, never appeared on a reality show (even as a judge), and has never sold photos of her children to a tabloid. Second, even though she's famous and a millionaire, there's always been an air of normalcy about her such that average people think they can relate to her. Like a lot of New York women, she's educated, married, takes care of her family and avidly fundraises. Her youngest child is about the same age as my eldest. I used to see her at the now shuttered Ben's, a baby store on Third Avenue. She picked out the same stuff as everyone else and waited on line to pay like the rest of us. I remember her yelling to her kids not to run too far ahead of her on 79th Street, and know people whose children went to school with hers. Everybody described her the same way: quiet, polite, keeps to herself. I still see her around?on her cell, hailing a taxi. Again, like everybody else. And, like other New York moms, now that her children are grown, she's ready to go back to work. This is where the normal part that warms her to us ends and thus begins the star power, of which we are both in awe and resentful (see, Carolyn & Co., you're not alone). She wants a job and there one is. A really good one, too. And to be considered, all she has to do is express interest. I know New York moms who have to ease back into the workforce part-time, or can't go back to what they did before so they have to rely upon "transferable skills" in order to start getting a paycheck again. But how long can the resentment last when reality sets in: Caroline uses her power for good, not evil. I, as so many of my mom colleagues, have raised impressive sums for my children's schools. But who (and this includes Carolyn & Co.) can hold a candle to the dough Caroline can rake in? People line up with their checkbooks just for the cachet of saying they handed her money. Last, but not least, look at whom she'd be replacing: a lawyer who never held public office and was related to a former president. It's like they're twins. Except Hillary is from Washington via Chicago and Arkansas, and has been passing herself off as a New Yorker with the help of some real estate and a Yankees cap. At least Caroline is really one of us. Sorry, Carolyn. Editor's note: the views expressed in this piece are those of the writer, and do not reflect the views of the newspaper.