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Jackie O’s daughter sees familiar traits in Obama

There is a quote by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis that I remember and think about often: ‘If you bungle raising your children, I don’t think whatever else you do matters very much.’
In the life that she had to lead and with two children who walked beside her, I have always felt she did an unimaginably good job. They seemed remarkably loving and normal for the maelstrom of attention that whirls and whirled around them. Being a product of the Kennedy years, I have always worryingly watched Caroline for signs of dysfunction. I am happy to say that she is steadfastly classic and unfaultingly proper in her dignified way.
Therefore, Caroline Kennedy’s opinion is huge to me. Monumental. Her endorsement of Barack Obama makes Oprah’s look miniscule in comparison. She not only brings her own personal voice, but she also legitimizes the idea of the Obama mystique being comparable to Kennedy’s. Good grief, if she can’t substantiate that claim, then who can? Up until Caroline’s editorial in The New York Times, I had dismissed the whole Kennedyesque/Obama rhetoric as just so much more media hype.
But lately, what I am feeling is a very unfamiliar and personally forgotten emotion: hope. Even optimism. Incredibly, it almost feels like pride in my country and its people again. I feel like I am tentatively emerging from some sort of mental Dark Age that has lasted a good eight years.
‘For our own protection,’ we have been cloistered by darkly hooded, self-professed caretakers who have waged war on terror, Iraq, our rights and who knows what all. And granted, we have not been bombed again on these shores. But that doesn’t mean we haven’t been damaged. Our sense of humor, zest for the creative, embracing of the absurd and invention of the new has come to a grinding halt because of this ruling class of very narrow thinkers. They mean well (I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt), but they threw out the baby with the bath water. Living in fear is not living but only existing.
When Caroline Kennedy says we need a ‘President like my father,’ she is talking about a person who is positive and not negative. A person who leads us ahead with fresh ideas and a persona that is open not closed. An educated leader who has studied, read, lived and breathed great thinkers, and absorbed some philosophy about life that can give perspective to reality.
John F. Kennedy said once, ‘A nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth or falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people.’
This Bush administration is afraid for the country to hear the truth as they see it. Known for secrecy, late-night signing statements, illegal wiretapping and more, this bunch is not into openness and light. Opaque behavior serves their purposes better but isn’t working very well for all of us.
Kennedy said, ‘Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth.’ We have been yoked to religious dogma, patriotic platitudes, moralistic dictates and nostalgic unrealism for long enough. We may be plodding onward head down with no new onshore attacks, but our quality of life is stagnant and joyless. Conformity is not working for us either.
John F. Kennedy said, ‘I am an idealist without illusions.’ In other words, it is just fine to believe in the highest qualities that this country and its people exemplify. But you have to be ready to compromise, avoid temptation, work hard and be patient in reaching goals of excellence and personal integrity. We the people may be ready to take on some hard work with purpose for a change. Our latest leaders have asked nothing of us except to keep spending ourselves into debt and insecurity.
And lastly, he said, ‘If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.’ The economic climate in this country right now is deteriorating and the middle class and the poor are teetering. I would not mind a President who understands there are always people who cannot help themselves, and that the rich are always in danger of becoming blind to anything but their own self-interests.
If Caroline Kennedy thinks Barack Obama has these prerequisites of her father’s in even a minor degree, then I am interested in his candidacy and I thank her for taking a plunge into the abyss of having an opinion. We can all join her or not. That is our right and privilege.