The Kennedy Legacy

Not just politics as usual

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December 11, 1996 – John Kennedy Jr looked on as then president Bill Clinton spoke in the Oval Office of the White House. The former was on hand to present the president with an annual report on intellectual disability. Kennedy was one of 21 presidential appointees to the President’s Committee on Mental Retardation (now called The President’s Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities), which marked its 30th anniversary during the ceremony.

December 11, 1996 – John Kennedy Jr looked on as then president Bill Clinton spoke in the Oval Office of the White House. The former was on hand to present the president with an annual report on intellectual disability. Kennedy was one of 21 presidential appointees to the President’s Committee on Mental Retardation (now called The President’s Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities), which marked its 30th anniversary during the ceremony.

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Joe Kennedy Jr’s British love: Patricia Wilson

In October 1943, Joe flew to an airfield near London and called to see Kathleen at her city home. They dined together and because of the lack of accommodation in the area at the time, he stayed with an old acquaintance, newspaperman William Randolph Hearst.

He intended to leave London the following day but the weather conditions prevented him from flying. Being forced to stay for an extra night, he dined at the Savoy that night with Hearst, Kathleen and some other guests. One was Patricia Wilson.

Pat had been married into the aristocracy. Her first husband had been the 9th. Earl of Jersey. By the time she met Joe Jr., she was married to a British army major who was away fighting – far away in Libya. She lived in a property about an hour away from London with her three young children.

She liked to entertain her friends there and when she found that Joe’s airbase was on the same train line as her house, she casually invited him to call in whenever he wanted to.

 Still, seeing his mother’s reactions to Kathleen’s marriage—Rose had been coldly rejecting when her daughter wed a British aristocrat who was also Anglican—and knowing well his father’s plans for him wouldn’t have room for a twice-divorced mother of three, Joe had to realize that when he returned home his relationship with Pat would be at an end.

Joe junior had grown closer to his sister as they shared their “romantic predicaments,” and she saw that his pride in Jack’s achievements was tempered by doubts about his own. Always secure in the fact that he was the star of the family, Joe had suddenly found himself trumped by his younger brother. For Jack to come in ahead on any level was unthinkable, yet here he was, a best-selling author and a decorated war hero. The least Joe could do was stay on in Europe.

In Hyannis Port, Joe senior waited through the rest of June and July, “expecting to hear the telephone ring any time and to hear that you were in Norfolk,” where troops back from Europe disembarked, but it wasn’t until August that he received a letter from his eldest saying he had stayed on for just one more mission, “something different” with “practically no danger.” Upon reading the letter on August 9, 1944, Joe immediately responded, “I can quite understand how you feel about staying there … but don’t force your luck too much.”

But Joe junior did force his luck. He had been in harm’s way for more than a year, had flown more than 35 missions, and could have returned home with honor. Yet he had now volunteered to fly an experimental plane, gutted of everything but room for pilot, co-pilot, and 10 tons of TNT that would literally turn the plane into a bomb; Joe’s mission was to lock onto a German target and bail out, but before reaching its destination the plane exploded in midair.

After Joe’s death Pat wrote to Rose offering her condolences and momentos-I don’t think Joe shared to much about Pat with his mother.

Pat wrote:..”Loving him as much as I did,I can understand a little of the agony you,as his mother must be going through.Although Joe would hardly ever say anything flattering to himself he did once tell me that he thought you loved him the best of your sons-so I can truly realize how unhappy you must be and I long to be able to give you comfort. My thoughts and deepest heartfelt sympathy are with you and because I loved him so much and we were so happy together  I pray and believe that they will reach from your heart from mine.”

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The still elusive Joseph P. Kennedy

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Joseph Patrick Kennedy, the paterfamilias of the Kennedy clan, continues to be scrutinized in lengthy biographies as well as in numerous studies of his most famous progeny.

The reasons for this persistent interest are not especially difficult to understand. Kennedy’s intriguing career is well documented in print, in archival collections, in recordings, and on film. Of course, much the same can be said of the life of Senator Prescott Bush, the founder of the Bush clan. However, the Kennedy family story has taken on a unique and almost mythic quality because of the dramatic historical events which destroyed JPK’s own political ambitions and the tragedies that consumed his sons and two of his daughters.  

Historian and biographer David Nasaw, the most recent scholar to take on the JPK story, was offered unrestricted access by the Kennedy family to the papers of Joseph P. Kennedy at Boston’s Kennedy Library. Nasaw insists that there were no strings attached—that he received permission to read and cite any and all materials in the JPK papers. However, he has acknowledged in a TV interview, that even after he agreed to write the book it took nearly 18 months to finalize a legal agreement between the Kennedys and the author—inevitably creating speculation about the precise nature of the issues which required such lengthy negotiations.

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"Cast in the principal role of fulfilling the Kennedy’s dreams was their eldest son, born on July 25, 1915. Rose had hoped to name the baby after her father, but Joe wouldn’t hear of it. Only one name would would do for his percet firstborn: Joseph Patrick Kennedy Jr. Young Joe grew up to be smart, handsome, amiable, and ambitious, the epitome of everything his parents - and grandparents - wanted. Honey Fitz believed Joe Jr would become America’s first Catholic president."
- Julie Mills, Robert Kennedy

"Cast in the principal role of fulfilling the Kennedy’s dreams was their eldest son, born on July 25, 1915. Rose had hoped to name the baby after her father, but Joe wouldn’t hear of it. Only one name would would do for his percet firstborn: Joseph Patrick Kennedy Jr. Young Joe grew up to be smart, handsome, amiable, and ambitious, the epitome of everything his parents - and grandparents - wanted. Honey Fitz believed Joe Jr would become America’s first Catholic president."

- Julie Mills, Robert Kennedy

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Robert Kennedy Jr.’s belief in autism-vaccine connection, and its political peril

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The Washington Post

By Keith Kloor

Sen. Barbara Mikulski listened impassively 
as Robert Kennedy Jr. made his case. He had to talk over the din in the marbled hallway just outside the Senate chambers, where he was huddled with Mikulski, two of her aides and three allies of his who had come to Washington for this April meeting.

Kennedy, a longtime environmental activist and an attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council,  had thought Mikulski would be receptive to an issue that has consumed him for a decade, even as friends and associates have told him repeatedly that it’s a lost cause. But she grew visibly impatient the longer he talked.

A mercury-containing preservative known as thimerosal, once used widely in childhood vaccines, is associated with an array of neurodevelopmental disorders, including autism, Kennedy told her, summarizing a body of scientific research he and a team of investigators had assembled. Thimerosal, which is an antifungal and antiseptic agent, was taken out of those vaccines in 2001, but it is still used in some flu vaccines. If it was dangerous enough to be removed from pediatric vaccines, Kennedy contended, why was it safe at all? What’s more, he said, the federal government knew of the dangers all along. These were claims he had made in the past, both publicly and in private conversations with other Democrats in Congress, none of whom have taken him seriously.

The Maryland Democrat turned from Kennedy without a word. “I want to hear what you have to say,” Mikulski said, looking up at the lean man standing next to her. Mark Hyman, a physician and best-selling author, is Kennedy’s chief collaborator on a then-unpublished book titled “Thimerosal: Let the Science Speak,”  which is scheduled to come out next week. The book argues that ethylmercury — a component of thimerosal — is harmful to human health. (Not so in trace amounts, scientific authorities have concluded.)

“The bottom line,” Hyman said to Mikulski: “We shouldn’t be injecting a neurotoxin into pregnant women and children.” Thimerosal should be taken out of the flu vaccine, Hyman and Kennedy argued.

Mikulski didn’t react, except to suggest they contact Sen. Bernie Sanders, who “cares about brain health” and oversees a related subcommittee.

As the meeting broke up, Mikulski’s brusque disposition toward Kennedy softened. “We miss your uncle here every day,” she said, referring to Senator Edward Kennedy, , a tenacious public health advocate during his long Senate career. He died of cancer in 2009.

Robert Kennedy Jr. said nothing. He was used to getting the brush-off by now. And he was already thinking ahead to his next move.

Robert Kennedy Jr belongs to a storied political family whose tragedies are woven into the American fabric. The third of Robert and Ethel’s 11 children, he was 9 when Lee Harvey Oswald killed his Uncle John, the 35th president. He was 14 when Sirhan Sirhan killed his father, who was running for president.

After his father’s death, the teenaged Kennedy experimented with drugs, like many of that generation’s youth. A reckless period spiraled into addiction and led to his arrest for heroin possession in 1983. He cleaned up, then embarked on a successful career as an environmental lawyer. He is also a professor at Pace University in White Plains, N.Y., where he runs a law clinic.

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Pallbearers, including a young Robert F. Kennedy Jr., carry the coffin of Sen. Robert Kennedy to the grave site at Arlington National Cemetery on June 8, 1968. (Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

He travels the country, giving 200 speeches a year, many on renewable energy. He sits on the boards of several green tech companies and is heavily involved in solar and wind power construction projects, with business that takes him to Europe, China and the Mideast.

His private life, befitting a Kennedy, has been fodder for the gossip pages. He had two children with his first wife, Emily Black. Three weeks after their divorce in 1994, he married Mary Richardson. They had four children, then Kennedy filed for divorce in 2010 and took up with Cheryl Hines, the actress who played Larry David’s wife on “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” They plan to marry in August at the Kennedy family compound in Hyannis Port, Mass. Mary took her own life in 2012. A year later, embarrassing 10-year-old entries from Kennedy’s private journals made tabloid headlines.

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Joe Kennedy III Might Be the Most Optimistic Guy in Congress

Joe Kennedy III seems remarkably upbeat for a guy who works at the most dysfunctional place on Earth, aka the U.S. House of Representatives. I had a chance to sit down with him Friday, at the Rox Diner in Newton (that’s him indulging in his somewhat disturbing iced coffee habit, above), and rather than grumbling about the crazy do-nothing Republicans, he professed to loving life as a first-term Congressman.

Kennedy is charmingly optimistic about the prospects for his first major bill, the Revitalize American Manufacturing and Innovation Act. GovTrack gives it a 25 percent chance of being enacted in the Senate and 19 percent chance in the House, which is high indeed for the current state of Capitol Hill. Working with Republican Tom Reed of New York, Kennedy has lined up an impressive 41 GOP co-sponsors and an equal number of Democrats.

It’s a relatively small-scale attempt to fund public-private partnerships—”it’s not going to rebuild the middle class,” Kennedy concedes. “OK, you can’t do comprehensive tax reform; you can’t do immigration reform,” Kennedy says of the current Congress. “But instead of sitting around lamenting that, can you break it down to something you can do…. Let’s take these bite-sized steps.”

Kennedy is also doing a minimal amount of overt public power-building, in the style of his 18-month contemporary in the Senate, Elizabeth Warren—even though he’s freed up by the Republicans’ failure to field a challenger to him in 2014. Kennedy has no Leadership PAC, and does limited travel and fundraising for other Democrats—hardly unusual for a freshman, but we all know he’s not a typical freshman.

He’s also positively radiant in praising his colleagues in the Massachusetts delegation—who have not always been entirely in sync. “It’s actually a great group of people that get along together,” Kennedy says. He credits Richard Neal, the new post-Markey dean of the group, for bringing them together for frequent meetings and issue updates. He also says that there is an informal “Massachusetts congregating area” near the well of the House. “You can see the tops of our heads on C-SPAN during votes,” he says.

We’ll see how long this sunniness lasts before Washington beats it out of him.

(Source: bostonmagazine.com)

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John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Jr. | 1960 - 1999
"John was a shining light in our lives and in the lives of the nation and the world that first came to know him when he was a little boy. He was a devoted husband to Carolyn, a loving brother to Caroline and an amazing uncle to her children, a close and dear friend to his cousins and a beloved nephew to my sisters and me."- Senator Edward M. Kennedy

 

John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Jr. | 1960 - 1999

  • "John was a shining light in our lives and in the lives of the nation and the world that first came to know him when he was a little boy. He was a devoted husband to Carolyn, a loving brother to Caroline and an amazing uncle to her children, a close and dear friend to his cousins and a beloved nephew to my sisters and me."

    - Senator Edward M. Kennedy

(via nadinesayij95)

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