WASHINGTON – Caroline Kennedy is apparently following in her forefathers’ footsteps.
Kennedy, the exceedingly private daughter of President John F. Kennedy, is reportedly pursuing the public service path blazed by her grandfather Joseph Kennedy Sr., who served as a U.S. ambassador.
On Monday, The Washington Post, along with other news outlets, reported the impending appointment of the 55-year-old Kennedy as envoy to Japan. The White House declined to comment, and Kennedy did not respond to a request for comment.
I think her whole life she has been an ambassador for American values, the importance of education, the importance of literacy, the importance of community service, said Josh Isay, a top political strategist and booster of Kennedy.
To be a good ambassador, you don’t need to seek headlines, but you need to be a good bridge.
In 2009, she left her private, low-profile life in an attempt to replace Hillary Rodham Clinton as the senator from New York when the former first lady was named secretary of state.
The short-lived Kennedy candidacy was a surreal train wreck. She came under attack by ambitious and more accomplished political street fighters, who slammed her lack of public credentials, and a lieutenant to New York’s then-Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, who had his own designs on the seat, was caught undercutting her in public.
Kennedy withdrew her bid at the last minute, catching her advisers by surprise. For the last few years, she served as president of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation and concentrated on her life’s work of literacy for underprivileged children. (Today, she will be in Kansas City to discuss her new book, Poems to Learn by Heart.)
But there was another, less-traveled, path to national service obscured by the accomplishments of her father and uncles: the diplomatic corps.
Kennedy’s grandfather, and the dynasty’s patriarch, served as ambassador to Great Britain from 1938 to 1940. Her aunt, Jean Ann Kennedy Smith, served as President Bill Clinton’s ambassador to Ireland.
Diplomatic sources said that the Japanese tend to be flattered when the American ambassador is a person of great renown, because it confirms their importance to the United States. Past ambassadors to Japan have included Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield, former Vice President Walter Mondale, former House Speaker Tom Foley, and former Senate Majority Leader Howard Baker.