The U.S. Senate is a pretty nifty club, but does Caroline Kennedy really want to join it?
Her name is being mentioned as a possible choice to fill the seat that is being vacated by Hillary Clinton, who is leaving the Senate to become Barack Obama's secretary of state.
There are plenty of other people who would like to become the junior senator from New York, but Caroline Kennedy brings, of course, the Kennedy "mystique" that still exists after all these years.
The seat was once held by her uncle, Robert F. Kennedy, and Caroline may feel a certain sense of both duty and nostalgia. Her uncle, Ted Kennedy, has been in the Senate since 1962 and is the second-longest-serving member of that body. But he has been diagnosed with brain cancer, and nobody knows how long he will be able to continue.
Caroline is a successful lawyer and author, and has done a lot of work in education, but she will always be remembered as being the daughter of John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Kennedy.
When one writes about the men in the Kennedy family, one often has to write about the family's "troubled" past. But the women in the family have never gotten in trouble that I know of.
The Kennedy women stay free of scandal, but they also stay free of high public office.
Caroline's cousin, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend (Bobby Kennedy's eldest child), became lieutenant governor of Maryland but when she ran for governor, she lost.
It is hard for a Democrat to lose statewide office in Maryland, but Townsend learned something: The Kennedy name gets you a lot of attention, and in some cases, automatic support, but it also gets you some resentment.
And if you ever give the impression that you are running for office because you think you are entitled to it, you can get in big trouble.
It has been reported that Caroline has spoken to New York Gov. David Paterson about being appointed to the Senate seat. The decision is his, though people are already giving him advice.
Many others would also like the job, but I don't really know of any political enemies that Caroline Kennedy has. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is already singing her praises, saying she has worked very hard "and made an enormous difference in New York City."
And Paterson has stated that the fact that Caroline Kennedy has never served a day in public office would be no barrier to her being appointed. "Elected office is not the only place that people have distinguished themselves and can serve the public," Paterson said.
It is likely that President-elect Obama would support the move. Caroline not only endorsed him early in the primaries, but wrote an op-ed piece for The New York Times in January 2008 headlined, "A President Like My Father."
It ended with the paragraph: "I have never had a president who inspired me the way people tell me that my father inspired them. But for the first time, I believe I have found the man who could be that president not just for me, but for a new generation of Americans."
At time when Obama was still battling Hillary Clinton for the nomination, it was an important endorsement and powerful sentiment.
But the question for Caroline is not whether she wants to be appointed to the Senate and serve I am guessing she feels a pretty deep family sense of obligation toward public service but does she really want to run for the job when it comes up for election in 2010?
It will be a rough and tumble campaign, and there is little about her to suggest the rough and tumble. Even in public, she has always seemed quiet and a little reserved.
Serving the public is one thing. Running to serve the public is quite another.
"Caroline is very competent," Bloomberg said. "Caroline Kennedy can do anything."
But does she want to?