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Caroline Kennedy: Is she qualified to be US ambassador to Japan?

Caroline Kennedy's previous foray into public service, an aborted run for US Senate in New York, was awkward. But she has what any good ambassador must have: clout with the president.

By Correspondent / July 25, 2013

Caroline Kennedy listens during the 2010 John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award ceremony at the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston. President Obama said on Wednesday he would name Kennedy, daughter of the late President Kennedy, as ambassador to Japan.

Brian Snyder/Reuters/File



President Obama nominated Caroline Kennedy Wednesday to be his next ambassador to Japan, a high-profile diplomatic post that would serve as just reward for her loyalty to his presidential campaigns in 2008 and 2012.

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Ms. Kennedy, a lawyer, author, and mother of three, endorsed Mr. Obama during his contentious 2008 Democratic primary battle against Hillary Rodham Clinton. She and her uncle, the late Sen. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts, threw the weight of Camelot’s dynasty behind the young first-term US senator from Illinois. Their approval gave Obama critical establishment validation, and effectively underscored that Obama’s vision for his time stirred similar passions in the electorate as President Kennedy’s candidacy did in 1960.

In a 2008 New York Times opinion article titled “A President Like My Father,” Kennedy wrote that she has never had a president who inspired her the way people say her father inspired them.

“Sometimes it takes a while to recognize that someone has a special ability to get us to believe in ourselves, to tie that belief to our highest ideals and imagine that together we can do great things,” she wrote. “In those rare moments, when such a person comes along, we need to put aside our plans and reach for what we know is possible. We have that kind of opportunity with Senator Obama.”

Kennedy has held many private posts – she is president of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation and chair of the senior advisory committee of the Institute of Politics at Harvard, among other positions – but she has been a reluctant participant, at times, in the political sphere.

In 2009, her interest in the open US Senate seat from New York – made vacant by Ms. Clinton’s decision to accept Obama’s offer to be his secretary of State – was fleeting. Kennedy seemed awkward and dispassionate, unsure of why or if even she wanted the job and unable to artfully articulate the commitment to public life that runs through her family lineage. She eventually asked the governor to pull her name from consideration.


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