Posts tagged Joe Kennedy
Posts tagged Joe Kennedy
WASHINGTON — For 90 minutes, the 33-year-old rookie representative with the shock of red hair bided his time as an endless stream of senior lawmakers asked lengthy questions about the crisis in South Sudan. Representative Joseph P. Kennedy III stroked his chin as he waited his turn.
Kennedy finally got time for two questions, but the long wait made him late for his next appointment.
“The joys of being a freshman in the minority,” he said with an air of self-deprecation, a shrug, and a sigh as he headed out — promptly underscoring his newbie status by making a wrong turn into a parking garage before finally locating the correct corridor.
The newest Kennedy in public life mocks his own lack of experience; casts himself as just another freshman Democrat, lower profile than most; and defers to colleagues from both parties. He is building a reputation for delving into unglamorous subjects; his favorite topic: STEM, an acronym favored by education policy wonks, which stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.
But don’t mistake any of that for lack of ambition.
“While his name brings a special kind of cache, the thing about it is he doesn’t take that for granted and he doesn’t try to exploit it,” said Paul G. Kirk, the former chairman of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation who replaced Edward M. Kennedy in the Senate on an interim basis.
“I think he also understands that freshman year is a listening and learning year and identifying the issues which you feel most strongly about,” he said.
JoeKIII, as he is often called, is walking amidst the sweep of Kennedy family history, which includes a great-uncle and grandfather who were assassinated and another great-uncle who served decades in the Senate. He has most directly followed his father, former representative Joseph P. Kennedy II, who at this one-year point in his political career had lashed out at the slow pace of the House.
He is experiencing some of the same frustrations as his father about the glacial pace of change but emphasizes — through his actions and words — that he will go more slowly and more quietly.
Just being a member of Congress is enough for now; no need to complicate matters. “I’m not good at the deep, introspective, on-the-couch analysis answers,” he said.
Using his first term as a quiet apprenticeship is a luxury that more vulnerable politicians might not have. After the Democratic field was largely cleared for him in the 2012 primary for Fourth Congressional District based in Brookline, Kennedy took more than 60 percent of the vote in his general election. He has yet to draw an opponent for the November 2014 election.
“It’s really important for me to do the fundamentals of this job really, really well,” Kennedy said. “And to let people know that I think the core responsibilities of a member of Congress aren’t seeking the national headlines or being the spokesperson on this issue or that issue when you just get there.”
The lobby of Kennedy’s Washington office is filled with banners for all the hometown sports teams, a Boston Strong poster, and free sample bags of Craisins. His dog Banjo, a border collie mix, is often wandering without a leash.
One has to get past the waiting room to see reminders of his family’s imprint on the nation. There are photos from his grandfather Robert Kennedy’s presidential run and the quote from his grandfather reminding him “you live on the most privileged nation on earth.”
Like his great uncle, Senator Edward Kennedy, he is trying his hardest to make some Republican friends. So unlike his fellow Massachusetts Democrats, who take pleasure in roasting the Tea Party, he holds his tongue.
“Their point of view resonated enough with the people they represent that they got elected,” he said. “And it’s, I think, extremely important for me to at the very least try to understand what that point of view is. It doesn’t mean we’re going to agree on everything. But you might find something.”
It’s a starkly different strategy from his father, Joseph P. Kennedy II, who was elected in 1986 when Democrats controlled the House and thus faced far less gridlock than today, but he nonetheless grew impatient with the imperative to “kowtow to some ladder rungs” to win power. The older Kennedy, who served a dozen years, declined an interview request.
Kennedy’s cousin, former Rhode Island congressman Patrick J. Kennedy, said some of Joe Kennedy II’s colleagues felt threatened by his aggressive style and became determined to “put him in his place.” The son’s low-key approach is no accident, he said.
“His father’s advice to me, and I’m sure it was to his son, was ‘Don’t do it the way I did it,’” Patrick Kennedy said. “In his own self-deprecating way, his father realized that he wasn’t built for that place.”
The son has so far avoided his father’s brash television persona and the breakneck national fund-raising schedule that had colleagues worried he would burn out.
“Look, I think it’s a — my dad is a high-energy guy. He’s got an executive mentality,” Kennedy said, pausing as he measured his words. “There’s no surprise that this place isn’t moving as fast as any of us would like.”
It was his father, Kennedy said, who warned him before he decided to run for office that “this can be hard. It’s a long slog.”
"Biggest fish I ever caught and Uncle Teddy tried to claim it was his!”
~ Joe Kennedy
He recalls sitting around the dinner table at his grandmother’s house listening to his aunts and uncles and older cousins debate the issues of the day. At the age of eight, he “pretty much watched”, he says. “It was one of those valuable experiences for me to listen and observe.” This would be the average experience for any child growing up in a large family. But when the family is that great American political dynasty, the Kennedys, and around the dinner table are the many children and grandchildren of the late Robert F. Kennedy, it makes the act of speaking up by one of the youngest members of the family that bit more daunting.
The exposure to these wide-ranging debates clearly rubbed off on the young Joseph P. Kennedy III, the grandson of Bobby; he is the only member of the Kennedy clan currently holding political office in the United States. “You saw how passionate people were, that even in the midst of the same family you could have a spirited debate about various issues,” Kennedy, sitting in his congressional office on Capitol Hill in Washington, says of those regular family dinners.
“We have got a big family and people were going off all over the country, all around the world doing different things. No one is shy. They all had the courage to be able to stand up and speak their minds.”
Kennedy was elected to the House of Representatives for Massachusetts ’ fourth congressional district last November, winning an impressive 61 per cent of the vote against Republican nominee Sean Bielat.
The self-effacing and intelligent 32-year-old is the son of Sheila Rauch and Joseph P Kennedy II, the second of Bobby and Ethel Kennedy’s children and himself a Democratic congressman from 1987 to 1999. Joseph P Kennedy III and his twin brother, Matt, have been immersed in politics from an early age. They were born in October 1980, around the time when his father was working on the presidential campaign of then US senator Ted Kennedy. Some of his earliest memories were of the campaign trail when his father first ran for Congress. He and his brother were six years old and enjoyed playing with campaign confetti at rallies.
“I have snapshots of that very first campaign. There are still some photographs up in my dad’s house. Both my brother and I got married last year so there were rather embarrassing photographs of us at various campaign events when we were yay tall,” he says, holding up a hand.
The freshman congressman, just two months in elected office, is deeply proud of his family’s long-standing service to public life in Massachusetts and the US. He understands the weight of the family name he carries in political office but equally he wants to plough his own furrow.
Kennedy ran an aggressive campaign last year, wearing out shoe leather meeting voters in a district spanning Brookline near Boston in the north to the southern Massachusetts coast. He says he wanted constituents to “come out and kick the tyres” – to meet him and to understand first hand his policies and values.
“It was extraordinarily important for me to give people that opportunity so they understand who they are voting for and supporting,” he says.
“I am extraordinarily proud of my family but it is important for people to know the real me and not just what they might think of when they think of various members of my family.”
Polite, eloquent and considered, Kennedy speaks with great authority and bears a striking resemblance to his grandfather. He has been busy working at his desk, despite wearing a heavily supportive sling on his right arm – the result of treatment to fix an old sporting injury. He played lacrosse while studying at Stanford University in California. A teetotal, his teammates nicknamed him “The Milkman” after one party when he matched every beer his friends drank with a glass of milk.
Kennedy studied management science and engineering at Stanford. After graduating he worked in the peace corps (founded by his great-uncle, then US president John F Kennedy, in 1961) in the Dominican Republic and East Timor. It was in East Timor that he came across Tom Hyland, the former Dublin Busdriver from Ballyfermot who became a campaigner for Asia’s poorest country – “an incredible guy”, says Kennedy.
After years of travelling, Kennedy wanted to be closer to home so he enrolled in Harvard Law School and later worked as an intern for a Republican district attorney before taking a full-time job as a prosecutor. Prosecuting cases made Kennedy look differently at every file on his desk, each one being “somebody’s life”, he says. He saw them as problems to solve rather than “another person to prosecute”, and that brought him into policy discussions about what could have been done earlier to help the person being charged. “It starts to get you looking further upstream to what caused that crime to be committed.”
In his new job, one of the biggest challenges facing Congress is the long-overdue reform of immigration laws to tackle the US’s 11 million illegal immigrants – the so-called “undocumented” of which there are thousands of Irish, including many in Kennedy’s congressional district in Massachusetts.
Kennedy’s great-uncle Ted tried and failed to push through an immigration Bill with Republican senator John McCain in 2006. But Kennedy believes there is a strong likelihood of legislation passing this time as momentum builds around broad principles on tightening border control, a pathway to citizenship, and simplifying the legal route to a visa to attract job-creating talent to the US.
“We need to get this done now. Not only do I believe it is the right thing to do morally, it is the right thing to do economically. It is the right policy decision. We have got an immigration system that I quite simply believe is broken.”
Another hot political topic is US president Barack Obama’s plans to overhaul gun ownership laws, including a ban on military-style assault weapons. Kennedy unsurprisingly supports the pressure the president is exerting on Congress to vote on the White House’s proposals; his family has experienced its own share of gun violence
“My family, yes, has a personal history with this; far too many other families have as well. I think this is something the president said very eloquently – they deserve a vote,” says Kennedy.
Passing laws through Congress is difficult when a Democratic president is continuously clashing with a House of Representatives led by Republicans, particularly over divisive budgetary issues. For a new Democratic congressman in a Republican-controlled chamber, Kennedy admits this can be “frustrating”.
“There is a party in charge here that largely wants smaller government … so fewer days in session and less legislation passed isn’t necessarily a defeat for them – that is in fact what they are looking for,” he says.
Kennedy believes government “can be a source for good” and that Congress has to “start taking on some of these problems in a real and big way”.
One of the few occasions when Democrats and Republicans put aside their differences is St Patrick’s Day. This year, Republican House speaker John Boehner will host the traditional Irish-American lunch on Capitol Hill for the Taoiseach, his visiting party and members of Congress.
Kennedy is not sure whether the congeniality that gets a small country access to the corridors of power in Washington is unique to Ireland, but it is very powerful, he says, and something he values.
“People like to be around folks who are friendly, jovial, who like to laugh and have a joke and enjoy themselves. That’s one of the great things whenever you see the St Paddy’s Day up in Boston and around the country. It is a time of joy, a time of reflection, a time of friends coming together, a time of enjoying each other’s company.”
Kennedy’s Irish heritage is “extremely important” to him, he says, acknowledging the service of his great-aunt Jean Kennedy Smith as US ambassador to Ireland, the role Ted Kennedy played in the Northern Irish peace process, and his father’s commitment to Ireland while serving in Congress. He visited Dublin a year and a half ago and is “trying to find a way back this summer”.
“The roots are so deep and, for so many members of my family, despite the fact that we might be gone a while, it is still considered by so many of us a home away from home and looked on very fondly.”
Two other prominent Irish-Americans in US politics, congressmen Stephen Lynch and Ed Markey, are fighting it out to be on the Democratic ticket in the June election for the Massachusetts Senate seat vacated by former presidential nominee John Kerry after Obama installed him as secretary of state.
Kennedy declines to say which of his congressional colleagues he will be backing. “Both of them are extraordinarily impressive individuals who will serve Massachusetts really well in the Senate or Congress,” he says.
And would this be a seat he would have an eye on in the future? “My friend, the only seat I have an eye on is the one I am sitting in right now,” he says, flashing that famous Kennedy smile
The Kennedy Legacy continues - Joe Kennedy II and Joe Kennedy III on the House floor during swearing-in ceremonies on Capitol Hill, January 2013.
BOSTON (AP) — Joseph Kennedy III has been sworn in as the state’s newest congressman.
The Brookline Democrat fills the 4th Congressional District seat formerly held by Barney Frank.
Kennedy took his oath of office on the House floor Thursday.
Kennedy said in a statement that he looked forward to working with constituents, community leaders and local officials to help preserve what he called the 4th District’s “proud tradition of innovation and a work ethic that has fueled economic growth for generations.”
The state’s eight other House members — all Democratic incumbents — were also sworn in Thursday.
Kennedy is the first member of the famous political clan to take a seat in Congress since the death of his uncle, Massachusetts U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy, in 2009 and the retirement of Rhode Island Rep. Patrick Kennedy, Edward Kennedy’s son, in 2011.
Representative-elect Joseph P. Kennedy III wed fiancée Lauren Anne Birchfield on Saturday afternoon in Corona del Mar, California surrounded by family and friends, according to spokeswoman Emily Browne.
Birchfield’s father, the Rev. Jim Birchfield, officiated at the ceremony at Community Church, Browne said in a statement.
Kennedy, the 32-year-old son of Joseph P. Kennedy II, former US representative, and the grandson of US Senator Robert F. Kennedy, beat Republican Sean Bielat last month to win the Congressional seat left vacant by the retirement of U.S. Representative Barney Frank.
Birchfield’s parents announced Kennedy and Birchfield’s engagement in January.
Community Church, where Mr and Ms. Kennedy were married, is set in this quiet residential neighborhood near the Pacific Ocean and holds about 200 people.
Corona del Mar (Spanish for “Crown of the Sea”) is a well-heeled neighborhood in Newport Beach, California. The new bride grew up in Southern California.
Ms Kennedy was a Rhodes finalist at UCLA, where she graduated in 2006 with a degree in political science. She also studied at Oxford University in England, and graduated from Harvard Law School in 2009.
Ms Kennedy has worked on human rights and health care policy, and recently accepted a position with the Blue Cross Blue Shield Foundation of Massachusetts where she will focus on health care policy. She currently lives in Boston.
NEWTON (CBS/AP) – Democrat Joe Kennedy III has beat out Republican Sean Bielat in the race to replace retiring Rep. Barney Frank.
Kennedy is the first of his famous political family’s generation to seek elective office.
He is the son of Joseph P. Kennedy II, who represented the state’s 8th Congressional District for six terms from 1987-1999, and the grandson of the late Robert F. Kennedy.
A graduate of Stanford University and Harvard Law School, and a Brookline resident, the younger Kennedy served in the Peace Corps, worked as a prosecutor in Massachusetts and in 2006 co-managed with his twin brother Matt the final campaign of their great-uncle, Sen. Edward Kennedy, who died of cancer in 2009.
The past two years marked the first time since the election of his great-uncle John F. Kennedy to the House in 1946 that a member of the Kennedy family had not served in elective office in Washington.
Kennedy released a statement applauding his opponent and vowing to continue his fight in Washington.
“Since the beginning, this campaign has been defined by a grassroots operation that refused to slow down or take one day for granted. We came together because we believe in the simple, American idea that hard work pays off; that each of us deserves the opportunity to succeed. That promise has guided me through this race and is what I will fight for every day down in Washington,” the statement said in part. “Our victory tonight is a testament to the incredible efforts of thousands of volunteers across the district that spent the past year working tirelessly for the country they believe in. I’d like to thank my opponent, Sean Bielat for a hard-fought campaign and for his lifelong commitment to public service, and wish him and his family the best. Tonight, I am proud to address the 4th District tonight as their next U.S. Congressman, humbled by the incredible show of support, and ready to get to work.”
Bielat, a Norfolk businessman who won plaudits from Republicans for a spirited campaign against Frank two years ago, was again the decided underdog in the election
Joseph Patrick Kennedy, III (31), first of the new generation of his famous family to seek elected office.
Joe Kennedy III and the Neverending Kennedy Magic
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — We may never stop measuring our lives in Kennedys. The Jack guys are all gone, and the Bobby guys are fewer by the years. For better or worse, for Democrats and Republicans, they have been the dynastic metric of the second half of the 20th century and, most amazing of all, of a good chunk of the beginning of the current one. They redefined public service. They redefined political celebrity for a new media age, and they lived within that context, for good and for ill, for the unbearably tragic and, occasionally, unbearably unbearable. Theirs is a history of public service unrivaled by that of any other family save (perhaps) the Windsors, and they get formally dragooned into it from birth. Theirs is a family history of public scandal and public political murder unrivaled by that of any other family save the Borgias. The Kennedys are our sacrifices and our scapegoats, and they stubbornly insist on volunteering for both jobs generation after generation. Sooner or later, one thinks, at least one of them has to chuck it all and live as a beachcomber clipping coupons in Palm Beach.
On Tuesday night, Joseph Kennedy III, grandson of a murdered senator and grand-nephew of a murdered president, introduced a video tribute to yet another of his grand-uncles, Senator Edward Kennedy, who passed away between the last Democratic convention and this one. He is impossibly young, red-haired, and he favors his mother, Sheila Rauch, a formidable woman who, when she was divorcing his father, former Congressman Joe Kennedy, took on the Archdiocese of Boston in a noisy battle over her ex-husband’s desire to annul their marriage, sinking the first real dent into the armor of the predator-enabling, conspirator to obstruct justice, Bernard Cardinal Law. It’s a pretty safe bet that, for all the “Kennedys Don’t Cry” family lore, there is a toughness to this Kennedy that he did not get from his father’s side of the family.
He’s running for Congress now, seeking to replace the retiring Barney Frank. People who have worked with him both in the campaign, and in his day job as an assistant district attorney, talk about how humble and decent he is, the kind of guy who volunteers to take the real grunt work of a public prosecutor, weekend DUI busts and tangled cases of domestic violence. Under their breath, so as not to upset The Family, many of these people make the point that, “He’s a Rauch, He’s not a Kennedy.”
"It’s like recombinant DNA," said Congressman Ed Markey. "You’ve got both those strands twining together."
(The video was a delightful combination of elegy and attack ad. A lot of it was taken up with clips from the debate between Edward Kennedy and Willard Romney during their 1994 Senate race in which Romney came off looking very badly. In fact, I’d forgotten how much of an obviously snippy lord of the manor type he was back in his younger days. This prompted some Twittery whinging from obvious anagram Reince Priebus, as though that pipsqueak was the true custodian of Edward Kennedy’s legacy, and as though Edward Kennedy himself wouldn’t have been twice as tough in person as he was on film.)
He was a Kennedy on Tuesday night, because that was what the hall was looking for. “Make no mistake,” he said of his late grand-uncle, “he is here with us tonight. You can see it in the passion of our delegates and the character of our candidates. For my uncle Teddy, politics was all about people. he measured things by promotions won and jobs lost, new homes and broken hearts, baptisms and funerals, every precious moment in between…. It guides us in the tough campaign ahead as we fight for the middle class, an economy that’s built to last, defend a woman’s right to choose, protect our seniors’s retirement security, and ask every American to do their part to safeguard the promise of this country.” Three generations of delegates pretended to be young again.
It was quick and it was modest and it was over very quickly. “It’s still magic,” said Congressman Jim McGovern, who has been campaigning with Kennedy because some of McGovern’s old congressional district now belongs to the district Kennedy wants to represent. “He’s got the ideals of his great-uncle and his grandfather, but he’s also very thoughtful and level-headed, a normal guy.”
It has taken four generations for the Kennedy family to get back to normal again. Who knows what they’ll find there now that they have?
Bringing the old Kennedy magic back on track!
The voter of tomorrow