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Embassy Row: She’s a Kennedy

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President Obama's nomination of Caroline Kennedy as ambassador to Japan sparked a lively debate about her qualifications to serve in one of America's most important diplomatic posts.

The daughter of President John F. Kennedy is mostly known for supporting charities, heading a foundation named for her father and backing Sen. Barack Obama early in 2008, when he was struggling to win the Democratic presidential nomination.

Supporters and detractors seemed to agree on one thing Thursday: Her chief qualification is that she is a Kennedy.

In Tokyo, Japanese government spokesman Yoshihide Suga cited her family pedigree and her political relationship with Mr. Obama.

"She is known to be very close to President Obama," he told reporters. "As U.S. ambassador, one of the most crucial questions is if or how she can communicate a variety of issues with the president. For that role, I would give her a big welcome."

The Boston Globe issued a sort of backhanded endorsement Thursday in an editorial headlined: "Yes, Caroline Kennedy is qualified "

"Without question, there are better students of Japanese politics than Caroline Kennedy," The Globe said. "What Kennedy has to offer is her intellect, her decorum and her name."

Thomas Berger, professor of foreign relations at Boston University, predicted: "Caroline Kennedy is likely to be a successful and popular ambassador to Japan."

He called her an "appealing, telegenic figure who comes from America's most glamorous political family."

Conservatives gleefully disparaged her nomination.

"What on earth qualifies her for this position? The fact that her last name is Kennedy?" said a blogger named Elena at the Conservative Women for Truth.

Elena recalled Ms. Kennedy's embarrassing 2008 campaign to win an appointment to the U.S. Senate from New York after Hillary Rodham Clinton vacated the seat to serve as secretary of state.

Ms. Kennedy withdrew her name from consideration after disastrous press interviews. She could not explain her positions on issues and appeared almost incoherent when she used the phrase, "you know," 168 times in a 30-minute interview with a New York cable news network.

"Has anyone heard her speak?" Elena said. "She sounds like, 'Oh my god!,' Valley girl."

HONORS FROM JAPAN

Japanese Ambassador Kenichiro Sasae will honor President Ronald Reagan, former House Speaker Jim Wright and a former congressional aide Friday for supporting a law that issued a formal apology to Japanese-Americans confined to U.S. relocation camps during World War II.

Mr. Wright, Texas Democrat, sponsored the bill written by House staffer Glenn Roberts, and Mr. Reagan signed it into law in 1988. Mr. Reagan, who died in 2004, will be represented by former presidential assistant James F. Kuhn.

Mr. Sasae will present them with the Ralph L. Carr Award for Courage, named for a wartime Colorado governor who was the only elected official to publicly oppose the confinement of Japanese-Americans.

Embassy Row is published on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. James Morrison can be reached at jmorrison@washingtontimes.com or @EmbassyRow.

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About the Author
James Morrison

James Morrison

James Morrison joined the The Washington Times in 1983 as a local reporter covering Alexandria, Va. A year later, he was assigned to open a Times bureau in Canada. From 1987 to 1989, Mr. Morrison was The Washington Times reporter in London, covering Britain, Western Europe and NATO issues. After returning to Washington, he served as an assistant foreign editor ...

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