Sins of the grandfather

November 23, 2008 at 3:41 pm | Posted in British Politics, U.S. Politics | Leave a comment

Over at Next Left, Sunder points out the rather delicious irony of Peter Oborne using the Daily Mail to pronouce that Caroline Kennedy’s grandfather’s ‘Nazi past’ – and not her rather tenuous claims of diplomatic experience – should disqualify her as the next American Ambassador to Britain:

Were Oborne right about the central releavance of what Caroline Kennedy’s grandfather did as Ambassador seventy years ago, it would surely then be the height of hypocrisy to use the Daily Mail to prosecute that argument.

Joe Kennedy was a staunch advocate of appeasement as Ambassador to London from 1938 to 1940.

So, “notoriously”, was Lord Rothermere. Among the British elite, there was probably no more prominent, enthusiastic or valued public advocate of appeasement, European fascism and Mosley’s British blackshirts than the founder and propreitor of the Daily Mail.


Clearly both Caroline Kennedy (born 1957) and the fourth Viscount Rothermere (born 1967), chairman of Associated newspapers today, find themselves at the centre of public life because of what, in different ways, they have inherited.

Even so, there must be a limit to how far either can be held responsible for everything in their family histories.

Indeed, and if we were to follow the logic of Oborne’s argument and disqualify politicians for the supposed sins of their parents & grandparents, then this man’s allegedly pro-Nazi business links would’ve disqualified two men named Bush from serving as American Presidents.

And just think what a terrible waste of talent that would’ve been…

Update: Oborne’s argument about the Kennedys’ support for the IRA is also a little shallow. Sure, the Kennedys were supporters of Irish Republicanism, but then so was most of the Boston & New York police departments. Furthermore, if there was a more staunch supporter of the Northern Ireland peace process in Congress than Edward Kennedy, then his or her name escapes me.

Update #2: I’m actually not crazy about Caroline Kennedy’s rumoured appointment; I think ambassadors should be experienced diplomats, not glorified party fundraisers who’re being rewarded for their support. Still, the post itself is not a particularly important one, as most of the dealings which have a real bearing on the ‘special relationship’ will either be handled by the President himself, or the woman who looks set to become the Secretary of State. I’m also confident that Obama’s appointments in those more volatile parts of the world will have had some prior diplomatic experience.

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