The Kennedy Legacy

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20 notes &

Jackie Kennedy was the most successful of the Kennedys in managing her own legacy – until now


By Kevin Cullen

It is fairly safe to assume that if Jacqueline Kennedy had even a hint that her correspondence with an Irish priest would become public, not to mention sold off at auction, she would have been horrified.

But she probably wouldn’t have been surprised.

As part of a family that has tried, mostly in vain, to control the unrelenting glare of public scrutiny, Jackie Kennedy had been the most successful in managing her own legacy. At least until now.

Publicity has always been both a blessing and a curse for the Kennedys. The family, especially old Joe Kennedy, used carefully managed publicity to build a fortune and a political dynasty. But the Faustian part of that deal is how the family’s most intimate moments have often played out in public, almost as a voyeuristic form of entertainment for some.

Every towering achievement, from Jack Kennedy’s election as the first Catholic president in 1960 to young Joe Kennedy’s recent election to Congress, has been matched if not surpassed by a slew of tragedies that seem disproportionate to the family’s size.

Real people, not caricatures
Given that Kennedy-watching, like the royals beat, is a cottage industry, it is easy to forget that there are real people, not caricatures, behind all the photographs and books.

Last year, in the midst of the commemorations of the 50th anniversary of Jack Kennedy’s assassination, I had dinner with young Joe Kennedy, the newly minted congressman. He had been after me to talk about an issue dear to him, the disenfranchisement of Haitian migrant workers who cut sugar cane in the Dominican Republic.

Joe spent his years in the Peace Corps, founded by his great-uncle JFK, in the Dominican Republic and was worried about a recent ruling by the Dominican supreme court that could leave many Haitian migrant workers stateless. He talks about helping migrant workers in the Dominican Republic with the same passion that his grandfather Bobby talked about helping Caesar Chavez’s migrant workers in California.

As we talked about a subject with which most Americans couldn’t be bothered, I noticed that the TV on the wall over Joe’s shoulder was showing the open car as it made its way down Dealey Plaza in Dallas on the afternoon of November 22nd, 1963. When I told Joe what was on the TV behind him, he didn’t turn around. He had been animated while talking about helping migrant workers but now he was suddenly subdued.

“I’ve tried not to watch any of it,” he said, looking down, fumbling with his silverware.

For Joe Kennedy, for his whole extended family, this was not some media event, not some opportunity for every Joe Soap in the world to recall where they were when JFK was shot. For young Joe Kennedy it was another reminder that he never got to know his father’s uncle who became president. It was another reminder that he never got to sit on the lap of his grandfather who wanted to be president. It was, for young Joe Kennedy, not a national moment of reflection and commemoration, but a sombre, personal reminder that he was part of a family that has been given much but also has had so much taken away.

Young Joe Kennedy articulated the blessing and the curse.

“The outpouring has been moving,” he said of so much attention to the anniversary of his great-uncle’s murder. “What he embodied and represented, in challenging us to be a better country, for us to be better citizens, to be better people, is still important. That challenge still resonates. If you are willing to answer that call, you can serve in the military, in the Peace Corps, whatever form.

“But, you know, he was a father, a husband, an uncle, a son. And our family still misses him.”

Jackie missed him, too, for the rest of her days. And she was determined to limit the intrusion, which would explain why she maintained such a long, intimate correspondence with Fr Joseph Leonard.

Jackie was an outlier, always was. She was always her own person in a family where conformity is prized. Jackie’s independent, curious spirit emerges in these letters and, as with her friendship with Cardinal Richard Cushing, her choice of Fr Leonard as a confidant shows her preference for priests who were more warm than pious.

These letters going on the auction block, after emerging in the pages of The Irish Times, the Boston Globe and then everywhere else, shows just how difficult it is for someone as wildly famous and purposely mysterious as Jackie Kennedy to manage a legacy, especially from the grave. At the end of the day the most private of first ladies comes out looking better, I think, but she would not have wanted it to happen this way.


Filed under Jackie Kennedy Jacqueline Kennedy Kennedy Jackie

67 notes &

"John Kennedy Jr made his own stage with George. From the start Kennedy, who had no prior experience in magazine publishing, had a clear-cut vision of a personality- based political magazine. “Political magazines should look like Mirabella,” he told the New York Times in 1996. “They should look like Elle. They should look like really inviting, accessible, exuberant youthful magazines.”

"John Kennedy Jr made his own stage with George. From the start Kennedy, who had no prior experience in magazine publishing, had a clear-cut vision of a personality- based political magazine. “Political magazines should look like Mirabella,” he told the New York Times in 1996. “They should look like Elle. They should look like really inviting, accessible, exuberant youthful magazines.”


Filed under JFK Jr John F. Kennedy Jr Kennedy

12 notes &

Profiles in Courage in Our Time

By Jack Schlossberg, NYC resident, junior at Yale, Yale Herald staff, volunteer EMT, grandson of President John F. Kennedy.

Americans today are served by a political system that only rarely demonstrates a capacity to compromise for the greater good. The challenges our country faces demand action, yet all too often we encounter a political dialogue that affords no space for those less interested in self-promotion and petty posturing than in looking for common ground.

It is tempting to see the system as broken or to regard the possibility to change it as simply unrealistic. For hope and guidance, therefore, we are well served to look back and remember times when disagreement did not mean disengagement and our leaders put nation above party to provide solutions.

We need not travel to some time in the distant past when legislative battles occurred in candlelit rooms on the floor of the old Senate chamber.

Instead, we can remember 1990 and President George H. W. Bush to find an example of tremendous political courage.

That year the federal budget deficit, after having tripled over the previous decade, stood at $200 billion. Just two years earlier Americans had believed President Bush when he had promised them that there would be no new taxes. But, as is always true when acts of courage appear, a tough choice awaited.

America needed to address the budget deficit. It needed a leader with the courage to govern and the selflessness to forget the next political contest. The nation needed what President Bush gave us.

The 1990 Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act established a “pay as you go” system for new entitlement programs and capped annual discretionary spending budgets. In exchange it raised the individual income tax, the top statutory tax rate, the payroll tax, and the rates of excise and fuel taxes, just to name a few.

To be sure, President Bush won no political points for the budget deal. Its passage enraged conservatives and was followed by a drop in his national approval rating. Bush, who enjoyed 80-percent approval at the start of his second year in office, knew the bill would make reelection an uphill battle, but he summoned the courage to govern responsibly at the expense of his own political future.

President Bush acted on a national stage while the world watched, but the capacity for courage is not limited to our nation’s highest leaders, or to the 20th century.

In 2011 the debate for immigration reform reached Uvalda, Ga., a town with 592 residents, when Mayor Paul Bridges, a Republican, joined a federal lawsuit to stop the implementation of Georgia’s Illegal Immigration Reform and Enforcement Act of 2011.

Breaking with his party and enraging many of his constituents, Mayor Bridges challenged the law, which outlawed housing and transportation of undocumented persons, limited access for those without legal immigration status to state-sponsored public facilities and services, and expanded state policing powers by authorizing demands for proof of citizenship or legal status from individuals stopped for traffic violations.

Bridges knew that the deportations that would come from the new law would devastate families — families he knew and had become close to. He knew that whenever he drove his undocumented friends to work or school or an appointment, he would be breaking the law. He knew that the Vidalia onion industry — the basis of Uvalda’s economy — would lose many of the workers crucial to its success. He also knew that in Uvalda he would stand alone in opposition to the law.

After publicly opposing the law, Mayor Bridges was vilified by many in his community, and he quickly became so unpopular a mayor that he had no choice but to eliminate the possibility of running again for office in Uvalda.

To understand the broad significance and lasting impact of this small-town stand, we leave President John F. Kennedy with the final word:

The true democracy, living and growing and inspiring, puts its faith in the people — faith that the people will not simply elect men who will represent their views ably and faithfully, but also elect men who will exercise their conscientious judgment — faith that the people will not condemn those whose devotion to principle leads them to unpopular courses, but will reward courage, respect honor, and ultimately recognize right.

George H. W. Bush and Paul Bridges will be honored with the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award on Sunday, May 4, 2014.

(Source: The Huffington Post)

Filed under Jack Schlossberg Kennedy

21 notes &

It’s not easy being a child of Camelot. To have your every move grist for publicity. Harder yet, to be bequeathed a legacy of great expectations

David Kennedy

Filed under Kennedy JFK David Kennedy

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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

Filed under Ted Kennedy Jr Kennedy

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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.

Filed under Joseph P. Kennedy III Joe Kennedy Kennedy

19 notes &

Most people live their lives as if the end were always years away. They measure their days in love, laughter, accomplishment, and loss. There are moments of sunshine and storm. There are schedules, phone calls, careers, anxieties, joys, exotic trips, favorite foods, romance, shame, and hunger. A person can be defined by clothing, the smell of his breath, the way she combs her hair, the shape of his torso, or even the company she keeps. All over the world, children love their parents and yearn for love in return. They revel in the touch of parental hands on their faces. And even on the worst of days, each person has dreams about the future—dreams that sometimes come true. Such is life. Yet life can end in less time than it takes to draw one breath.
Bill O’Reilley, Killing Kennedy

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11 notes &

Joe Kennedy kicks off re-election bid in Taunton

Freshman U.S. Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy III kicked off his re-election campaign yesterday in front of a roaring crowd of supporters in Taunton, sticking to his famous family’s political script of championing the poor but also lamenting congressional gridlock.

Kennedy, whose famous bloodline enshrined him as a member of an American political dynasty, surprised no one at the Sandbar Grill with his announcement that he’s seeking a second term for the 4th Congressional District seat.

“I’m thrilled to announce to all of you that I’m running for re-election … I hope that doesn’t come as a big shock to anybody,” Kennedy said to cheers and laughs. “Every person, regardless of where you were born or where you’re from, deserves to make the most out of what they got here in this country.”

He touched on his backing of raising the minimum wage, passing comprehensive immigration laws, workforce development, protecting retirement security and extending unemployment benefits.

Kennedy, who as of now does not have a Republican challenger, bemoaned some of his colleagues placing politics over their country.

“Despite the lessons learned, despite the people that you meet, despite all that comes with being a member of Congress, there are times that have been extraordinarily frustrating,” he said. “You see that good policy is often in conflict, for some, with good politics.”

Betty Regan, 67, of Medway said she believes Kennedy puts the common man over special-interest money.

“He espoused the Democratic principles, which is very important,” she said. “He really is a people’s representative. He’s not a Koch brothers’ representative.”

After his speech, Kennedy told the Herald he’s trying to build bipartisan bridges, noting he has had dinners with Tea Party congressmen, and a manufacturing bill he sponsored also has dozens of Republican sponsors. He said his legacy name has helped rather than hindered him in Washington because of the bonds his political family has built over the years.

Both Kennedy and his wife are running the Boston Marathon — he’s raising money for The One Fund Boston, she’s raising money for Boston Medical Center. Kennedy said after last year’s bombings it’s especially important to put on his running shoes.

“No terrorist act is going to take away our city and what makes our state the place that it is,” he said.


Filed under Joe Kennedy Kennedy Joseph P. Kennedy III