Monday, January 5, 2009

Dame Caroline's popularity takes a nose dive

Dame Caroline of Camelot

Since she began a sometimes public campaign to rally the common folk behind her effort to acquire Hillary Clinton's Senate seat by appointment, Dame Caroline of Camelot's popularity has taken a rough beating, according to a new poll by Public Policy Polling.

A PPP survey taken a month ago showed her leading New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo among Democrats by 44% to 23%. The new poll has Cuomo preferred by 54% of Democrats and 58% of all voters.

What's more, "44% of the state’s voters now say they have a lesser opinion of Kennedy than they did before she started vying for the position."

Meanwhile, writing in The Daily Beast, the inimitable Tina Brown has a fascinating take on Dame Caroline's sudden, past-50 interest in "the family business" -- noting how unsurprisingly similar to British aristocrats the Kennedy heiress is:

Her default state of mind is captured by that affectless voice we hear on the AP tape and its self-defeating y’knows—dozens of them in less than two and a half minutes. To a British ear, it’s the same low-energy stance of the younger generation of the Royal Family or the grander British aristocracy—which, in American terms, is exactly what she is.

Take a tour of a British stately home with the laid-back heir or heiress to all the Gainsboroughs and Reynoldses on the satin walls (“This is the Red Room, yah, where, y’know, the Duke of Marlborough was, I dunno, like, arrested, we just roller skate here now”) and you will experience the same gusts of disinterest that Caroline displayed in Rochester when she visited the Democratic headquarters there recently.

Local officials eagerly ushered the prospective senator into a conference room known as the Kennedy Room, adorned with pictures of (what a drag) her father, mother, and younger brother, and Caroline herself as a little girl. “She never responded to the pictures,” the mayor of Rochester, Robert Duffy, told The New York Times. “She looked and perhaps nodded. She never said a word about it.” (To be fair, Rep. Louise M. Slaughter, a Democrat from upstate New York who has endorsed Caroline, noted that Kennedy’s reaction to the pictures was to say, “Oh, that’s very nice.”)

Caroline’s whole demeanor, with its combination of slouchiness and snippiness...when her rank is challenged... proclaims the sad truth of her life: that being the heir to a legacy fraught with so much tragedy is a heavy-hearted chore—especially when you have no real visceral feel for the spirit that forged it. All those meetings with the great and the good at the Kennedy Library. All those requests from new biographers for interviews to turn down. All those battening social climbers, from as early as kindergarten, when the play-dates were about the moms who wanted to meet Jackie. All the lies—or, worse, truths—written about your family. It was, y’know, draining.

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