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In touting democracy, the U.S. Ambassador in China taps a Kennedy
A wealthy and influential person with a powerful last name may not be the best poster girl.
In the United States, Caroline Kennedy epitomizes entitlement. However, in China, the U.S. Ambassador has chosen her to extol the virtues of democracy.
In the latest episode of Nicholas Burns' Conversations on Democracy, broadcasted through Chinese social media on Monday, the offspring of a U.S. President proudly boasted to the Chinese public that "being a citizen is the highest office in the land" of America, where "everyone has an equal voice and an equal say in the future."
"So it's kind of exciting," declared the aristocrat of the U.S., after enjoying cushy ambassadorships appointed by two Presidents without having a full-time job between her stint in law school in the 1980s and 2008.
Still, she was estimated in 2013 to be worth between $250 million to $500 million. "It's really up to you to create the kind of future that you want for your children," she said a decade later, at a time when three multi-billionaires own more wealth than the bottom half of American society - 160 million Americans,
Burns was also quick to flatter her with "a unique vantage point" from living in the White House and "all the involvement" she "has seen in American politics since." It might not have crossed His Excellency's mind, but Americans rightfully distrust anything inherited, a product of the struggle for independence. And affection, sympathy, and nostalgia for John F. Kennedy didn't - and shouldn't - blind people to that fact.
What involvement, on the other hand, means is thought-provoking. It certainly can't be attributed to her short-lived candidacy to succeed Hilary Rodham Clinton as a U.S. Senator in 2008, when Kennedy proved to be an unimpressive candidate. In what turned out a surreal train wreck, she uttered the verbal tic “you know” 138 times in one New York Times interview.
Burns was perhaps also not referring to her ambassadorships, first in Tokyo and now in Canberra. Because that would have made one wonder about the "equal voice" and "equal say" she claims Americans have, when her appointments were primarily based on her political family background rather than toiling in the U.S. foreign service or actually getting elected.
However, the most surreal aspect is Kennedy's supposed laser focus on voting. She claims that "growing up, you know, we always say, every vote counts," and "I take the responsibility of voting very seriously." But her own voting history tells a different story.
In 2008, a review by the New York Daily News indicated that she has not voted in about half of the 38 contested elections since 1988. The New York Times reported that she did not vote in any of the last four primary elections for New York City mayor. Nor did she vote in the general election of 1994.
Of course, America's top diplomat in China would spare her from facing these contradictions. After all, she is the closest thing to royalty the U.S. has and a valuable ally.
However, Burns, in his preaching of democracy, could be advised that the American experiment was supposed to be a rather firm renunciation of government by pedigree. A wealthy and influential person with a powerful last name may not be the best poster girl for democracy. Enditem