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.
Kennedy’s appointment has been rumored in Washington for some time, and it is not surprising given her history with Obama. But despite the famous name, she has no diplomatic experience and has never held elected office. The New York Times notes that the Japan ambassadorship has typically “gone to political heavyweights.” The selection of Kennedy, however, is in keeping with Obama’s move of big campaign supporters, usually donors, to high-profile posts in London, Berlin, Copenhagen and Madrid.
None of this will likely matter.
Kurt Campbell, a former assistant secretary of state for East Asian affairs, told The New York Times that Kennedy has one indisputable credential.
“What you really want in an ambassador is someone who can get the president of the United States on the phone,” Mr. Campbell said. “I can’t think of anybody in the United States who could do that more quickly than Caroline Kennedy.”