The Kennedy Legacy

Not just politics as usual

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JFK Jr: Rollerblade-guy
"He loved to travel across this city by subway, bicycle and Rollerblade. He lived as if he were unrecognizable — although he was known by everyone he encountered. He always introduced himself rather than take anything for granted. He drove his own car and flew his own plane, which is how he wanted it. He was king of his domain."                                                           - Ted Kennedy about John Jr

JFK Jr: Rollerblade-guy

"He loved to travel across this city by subway, bicycle and Rollerblade. He lived as if he were unrecognizable — although he was known by everyone he encountered. He always introduced himself rather than take anything for granted. He drove his own car and flew his own plane, which is how he wanted it. He was king of his domain."
                                                           - Ted Kennedy about John Jr

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A Kennedy kid made a big impression at a debutante ball in Paris last december. Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s 18-year-old daughter, Kyra LeMoyne Kennedy, made her debut at the Bal Des Debutantes in a pastel blue couture gown by Dior, black boots with matching blue toe caps, and a Kate Middleton-style blowout. Kennedy, a fashion maven, has interned at Christian Dior, and reportedly aspires to attend F.I.T. She was accompanied to the event by her dad. 

"The dress I chose was the first dress I put on. Prior to going to the showroom, I saw the dress in the 2013 Dior show and fell in love. This was my first time wearing haute couture and this moment was so significant because of my love and respect for the fashion industry" Kyra told to TeenVogue.


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I will try to live up to the high standard that my father set for all of us when he said the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die.
Ted Kennedy Jr

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Since October 10, 1993 Ted Kennedy Jr is happily married to Katherine Anne “Kiki” Gershman. She is an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at the Yale School of Medicine at Yale University and an environmental advocate. She also serves as spokeswoman for Stop the Pipeline, which successfully blocked the Islander East natural gas pipeline across the Long Island Sound. They live in Branford, Connecticut.

Ted and Kiki have a daughter, Kiley Elizabeth (born August 7, 1994), who is a competitive snowboarder and a student at Wesleyan University, and a son, Edward Moore Kennedy III, (born February 25, 1998) who is a student at Choate Rosemary Hall. 

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I’ve lived in the 12th district for nearly 20 years, and nothing is more important to me than the future of these towns

- Ted Kennedy Jr

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Camelot in Connecticut: Ted Kennedy Jr. Jumps Into Race For Connecticut State Senate


BRANFORD, Conn. (AP) — Ted Kennedy Jr. has long had his famous name bandied about as a potential candidate for high political office while he worked for the disabled, campaigned for others and gave a stirring eulogy for his father.

After years of prodding, the son of the late U.S. senator from Massachusetts has finally decided to make his first bid for elected office by running for state senate in Connecticut.

Hundreds, including state officials and numerous television cameras, turned out Tuesday for Kennedy’s official announcement, which drew standing ovations from the crowd that gathered at a Branford library.

Kennedy invoked his famous family, saying he was proud of its fight for social justice and fairness. He said his father, a liberal lion of the Senate who died in 2009, believed in building consensus and he shares that philosophy.

"We need people in government, both Democrat and Republican, who are able to build bridges and find common ground," Kennedy said while joined on stage by his wife and two children.

Kennedy, whose voice boomed like his father’s at times, revealed that the elder Kennedy was among those who had encouraged him to run for office over the years. But he said he wanted to raise his family and develop his own expertise on the issues before running.


Kennedy, a health care lawyer who lives in Branford, serves on the board of the American Association of People with Disabilities. He said a life of advocacy grew from the loss of his leg to cancer as a child.

Kennedy recalled the horror he felt when his father told him at age 12 that doctors would have to amputate his leg. He said he thought his life was over but, in time, the experience enlightened him to the needs of others.

When Kennedy met another boy who lost his leg and learned he couldn’t afford an artificial one, Kennedy said he resolved to do something with his life and make sure others did not have to experience such hardship.

Patrick Kennedy, who represented Rhode Island for 16 years until he retired in 2011, said Monday his brother’s life was transformed when he lost his leg. He said his brother became a “profile in courage” — the phrase that was the title of a book by their uncle, former President John F. Kennedy — by surviving and later becoming a champion for people with disabilities.

Kennedy said he wants to go to Hartford in part to make sure all children have access to mental health services.

Kennedy, 52, is seeking the Democratic nomination for the 12th Senatorial District representing towns near New Haven, a lower profile seat than the U.S. Senate, where his name has been mentioned as a possible candidate. Kennedy said he believes he can make an impact at the state level.

Darrell West, a former Brown University professor who wrote a book on Patrick Kennedy, said the decision makes sense.

"Even if your last name is Kennedy you have to establish yourself," said West, vice president of governance studies at the Brookings Institution. "It still creates the opportunities to run for higher office down the road."

Ted Kennedy Jr. spoke to hundreds of mourners at his father’s funeral Mass in Boston in 2009, his voice breaking as he recalled how his father helped him climb a hill to sled as he was adjusting to his artificial leg. That experience, he said, taught him that even the most profound losses are survivable.

West said that speech put the younger Kennedy on the national radar.

"The skill with which he delivered the eulogy gave him greater credibility to run for office," West said.

There are no other declared candidates in the race. Republicans have vowed to vigorously contest the seat.

State Republican Party Chairman Jerry Labriola Jr. said his party has several quality candidates interested in running. Last month, Labriola said he believed the district was “trending Republican.”

The 12th District is represented by retiring Guilford Democrat Edward Meyer. It encompasses Branford, Durham, Guilford, Killingworth, Madison and North Branford.

(Source: The Huffington Post)

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Remembering John John

By Nina Burleigh, New York Observer

Besides being the month of Thanksgiving, November is the month of the Dead Kennedy. It’s a time of remembering a day of blood and brains on a pink dress in Dallas, a portal into a black hole in the last half-century’s history.

For those of us born in and after the 1960s, who can’t literally recall the day of the assassination, the real figure from November 1963 haunting our childhood imaginations was a boy, our age, standing in short pants and saluting his father’s coffin.

John Kennedy Jr., who would be 53 years old now, was our Kennedy. The beautiful man known as John John, who grew up cavorting on the Cape and Skorpios with Jackie O, discoing in New York with Mick and Bianca and Andy, was a symbol of sex and privilege, his elitism so gracefully carried. 


I met him on a few occasions when I wrote for his magazine George. His pet project was idealistic, and a bit ahead of its time. The magazine was first of all an extension of the Kennedy brand: substance, celebrity and just enough whimsy to appeal to those who had flipped the channel from the nightly news to MTV.

In person he was an easygoing thoroughbred, perfectly mannered, all varnished normalcy. Sitting beside him at lunch in a Washington bistro, you knew that he knew exactly which fork to use first, but he wasn’t going to make you feel bad for not unfolding the napkin properly, either.

Turning up at New York parties in the 1990s, he and his blond wife were luminous creatures, towering over everybody else, tall, sylphic and fair. Olympians.

In the 13 years since he died, I remember Kennedy whenever I exit the Franklin Street subway station by Bubby’s, the corner restaurant where the paps so often staked him out, across from the Tribeca loft he shared with his lovely, restless and unhappy bride until the day they died.

This month, though, I found myself thinking about him while driving west from the city at Thanksgiving, beneath the contrails of small jets and planes crisscrossing sky over Essex County Airport, the location from which he took off on a summer day in 1999.

Before the 2000 election and 9/11, that plane crash in the fog over the Cape was one of the tragic millennial plot twists. I’m not saying Kennedy would have been president or changed the course of history. But he was our generation’s Kennedy, possessed of that rare quality from another era called charm, who might have helped recharge the progressive politics that were his birthright. Maybe, just maybe, he would have shown the brutes in Washington how to be civil in an uncivilized age.


Our Kennedy was, like the rest of us, a self-indulgent underachiever, a little lost. He loved his Frisbee, and he flunked the bar exam a couple times. But his greatest underachievement was his untimely death. What he might have been—perhaps a senator or governor—we will never know.

JFK JR.’S DAD ENDURED A SECOND, reputational death with revelations about CIA plots and his seedy private life, the revolving door of women in and out of the White House, feeding the now-named sex addiction. The younger Kennedy didn’t want to see that. I wrote a book about one of the mistresses and I never wrote for his magazine or saw him again.

He protected his dad’s legend, surely, but the rest of us came to expect, if not to revel in, the failures of his storied clan, from the peccadilloes of Bobby and Teddy, to the lost souls of the next generation, the heroin addictions, the rape charges, the car crashes, and most recently, the divorce ending in suicide of Bobby Junior’s wife in Katonah.

As children of the 1960s, we grew up knowing better than to put our faith in great men and higher institutions—starting with Nixon’s resignation, the Church committee naming the dirty deeds done in service of our free enterprise around the world, the coups and assassinations, drug experiments, the dirty wars.

Born at the end of the Baby Boom, we were cowed into learned helplessness by black ops and nuclear Armageddon and by easy drugs and cheap gas, too young to protest, too high to care. We partied because tomorrow might never come, pretty sure we were the final generation before nuclear Armageddon. We had no clue that a different sort of Armageddon was underway, slow, painless and invisible, until the streets of Detroit turned into apocalyptic movie sets and our ponds stopped freezing in winter.

In their book, That Used to Be Us, Thomas Friedman and Michael Mandelbaum lay out the statistical decline that’s occurred on our generation’s watch.

Thirty years ago, 10 percent of California’s general revenue fund went to higher education and 3 percent to prisons. Today nearly 11 percent goes to prisons and 8 percent to higher education.

The shameless abandonment of all communitarian impulse that lay behind the Reagan era wealth shift happened on our watch: the top 1 percent now holds 40 percent of the wealth. Twenty-five years ago, the top 12 percent held 33 percent of the wealth.

The truest measure of our generation’s decline is in the kids of a gutted middle class. The descendants of Greatest Generation are fat, diabetic, meth-addicted sloths who couldn’t make it through basic training if they were so inclined. “Seventy-five percent of young Americans, between the ages of 17 to 24,” Messrs. Friedman and Mandelbaum wrote, “are unable to enlist in the military today because they have failed to graduate from high school, have a criminal record or are physically unfit.”

The authors blame outside forces: globalization, the revolution in information technology, the nation’s chronic deficits and its pattern of energy consumption.

But we know better. We know that the decline started inside of us. Like Kennedy—our best and brightest—our own squandered potential comes from the don’t-give-a-shit decades of our extended youth, from the classes we cut in college to smoke dope and play Ultimate, from the planet we heated with the fumes from so many cross country road trips, and from the island of plastic in the Pacific we would make with our limitless intake of bottled water and supersized soda.

Frank DiGiacomo, in a July 1999 obit for John Jr he wrote, tried to describe what Junior’s death meant for his peers. Mr. DiGiacomo didn’t know that it was one dispiriting tragedy preceding so much worse—the imminent disastrous election of 2000 and the falling of the World Trade towers.

But he sensed something dark coming, as we all did.

“We’re all older now,” Mr. DiGiacomo wrote. “And somehow, New York’s 21st century seems a little colder and more distant knowing that John Kennedy—who was supposed to be in our future, who may be irreplaceable in our lives—is contained forever, back here with our youth, in his father’s century, the 20th.”


John John died just as he was getting his act together at age 38—belatedly, like the rest of us, getting less diffident, gaining hope, finding a purpose. He would have been gray around the temples by now and, who knows, maybe living up to his birthright and promise as another desperately needed, persuasive voice for progressive ideals in Albany or D.C.

We, his peers, forge into middle age and these troubled times that none of us foresaw or, it must be admitted, would or could have tried to prevent.

RIP to our misspent youth, and to the very symbol of its lost promise, the boy saluting death, forever.

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He is handsome, too, but not quite in a conventional Kennedy way. He has bright orange hair that sometimes curls into a forelock, blue-green eyes and pale freckles. He has been compared to Conan O’Brien (besides being a redhead, he’s also fairly tall), but looks more like a mash-up of Prince Harry, the “Hunger Games” actor Josh Hutcherson and a bird
Edith Zimmerman in The New York Times on congressman Joseph P. Kennedy III.

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