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The Kennedys Last Hurrah


William Kelly
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CBS Analysis

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/08/25/...in4383352.shtml

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The Kennedy Legacy

DENVER, Aug. 25, 2008 (CBS) The images have been burned into unforgettable memories for half a century; the young senator who lost the battle for the vice-presidency in 1956 - then won his party's presidential nomination four years later, CBS News senior political correspondent Jeff Greenfield.

"We stand today at the edge of a New Frontier. The frontier of the 1960's a frontier of unknown opportunities and perils - a frontier of unfulfilled hopes and threats," said John F. Kennedy in 1960.

Those images include a memorable inaugural, at which he said: "Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country."

And a White House impossibly young and glamorous. Then there are the other ineradicable memories.

It was at the 1964 Convention, Robert Kennedy paid tribute to his fallen brother John.

"I realize that as an individual even more importantly, for our political party and for the country that we can't just look to the past, but we must look to the future," Robert Kennedy said.

Four years later, Ted Kennedy was paying tribute to the murdered Robert.

In 1969, came the death of a young woman in a car accident with Ted Kennedy at the wheel.

Lingering memories of that helped doom Ted Kennedy's 1980 effort to take the Democratic nomination away from the President Carter.

But at that convention, Kennedy's speech became a rallying cry for the liberal foot soldiers of the party.

"The work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, the dream shall never die," he said.

But beyond the personal triumphs and losses, there is another story - the political legacy of the Kennedys that began a generation earlier than most of us realize, and that shaped, and reflects, the modern history of the Democratic Party.

It was Joseph Kennedy, Sr. - the patriarch of the clan - whose political clout was crucial to FDR's nomination in 1932, without which there would have been no New Deal.

It was John Kennedy's presidency that attracted a legion of the young into politics. And it was Robert Kennedy who spoke to the passionate divisions of the late 1960s.

And it was Ted Kennedy who became the Senate's liberal lion, leading fights for an expansive federal role even as the country moved to the Right.

"The younger brothers Bobby and Ted were infected by one particular aspect of John, which was his idealism … and Bobby was the suffering idealist. And Ted became over time the pragmatic idealist," said Joe Klein, a columnist with Time Magazine.

But now the Kennedy presence is fading: Caroline Kennedy helped vet Obama's vice-presidential pick, but has no apparent political ambitions. Ted's son, Rhode Island Congressman Patrick Kennedy, is the only third-generation Kennedy holding office. And Ted Kennedy is in a battle with a life-threatening illness.

"In terms of electoral politics, in terms of having another Kennedy presidency I think that dream is done," said Klein.

Monday, once again, a Democratic convention will pay tribute to a Kennedy, but you can't help wondering if this celebration will be something of a farewell salute to one of the most prominent political families in American history.

THEN AGAIN, DAVID CROSBY IS NOT IN THE BUILDING:

http://www.commondreams.org/archive/2008/08/22-3

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Bill,

As I watched the tribute to Ted Kennedy, I was thinking; maybe Robert Jr., possibly Caroline, and then I realized just as you have written above. It is over. This was a living memorial. The last of the Kennedys is passing. It seemed to me that it was just as clear to him. Although he spoke of the future, he knew that he was part of the past. When the "old Lion" passes, that will be that. Camelot is fading, the lights have dimmed and it is not so far into the future that they will have burned out.

Terry

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Bill,

As I watched the tribute to Ted Kennedy, I was thinking; maybe Robert Jr., possibly Caroline, and then I realized just as you have written above. It is over. This was a living memorial. The last of the Kennedys is passing. It seemed to me that it was just as clear to him. Although he spoke of the future, he knew that he was part of the past. When the "old Lion" passes, that will be that. Camelot is fading, the lights have dimmed and it is not so far into the future that they will have burned out.

Terry

Thanks for the response Terry,

And I agree that it is the end of the line for the Kennedys, though Caroline certainly made a great pesentation, and so did Teddy, but RFK Jr. and Patrick, both of whom I know personally as really good people, just can't carry the torch to where it was meant to go.

I disagree however, that the light has burned out. More like shot out by the assassins.

BK

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  • 4 months later...
Bill,

As I watched the tribute to Ted Kennedy, I was thinking; maybe Robert Jr., possibly Caroline, and then I realized just as you have written above. It is over. This was a living memorial. The last of the Kennedys is passing. It seemed to me that it was just as clear to him. Although he spoke of the future, he knew that he was part of the past. When the "old Lion" passes, that will be that. Camelot is fading, the lights have dimmed and it is not so far into the future that they will have burned out.

Terry

Thanks for the response Terry,

And I agree that it is the end of the line for the Kennedys, though Caroline certainly made a great pesentation, and so did Teddy, but RFK Jr. and Patrick, both of whom I know personally as really good people, just can't carry the torch to where it was meant to go.

I disagree however, that the light has burned out. More like shot out by the assassins.

BK

The history of civilization is littered with the remains of once great nations. The job of the historian is to document reality in a naked unbiased and impartial manner. There were two fatalities in 1963, one was the President of a great nation the other was the conspicuous absence of the former.

45 years later, there is the realization, that the "something terribly wrong" that happened that day are less confusing but the essential tools that are a prerequisite to ascertaining exactly what happened, have been in the hands of the same great nation, that we have with us today.

Take Robert Kennedy for example, the heir of JFK's legacy. Powerless in the aftermath of the assassination.

Answers to the pertinent questions, are rendered instead as cliches, politics is power, which is the answer to why RFK never did anything, becomes a rote cliche. The fact that when he appeared at the 1964 Democratic Convention, amidst applause

that continued for some eighteen minutes, becomes another historical footnote, to a generation weary of the road to nowhere legacy of solving what was once called the national obsession. Instead we are faced with the own parallel history that places the Kennedy's as simply another ruling American family, and the sphinx like mystery of November 22, 1963 as a "so-what" if your politics are conservative, or the day the nation died if you are a liberal.

One thing that cannot be debated is the fact that unlike the dynamic of illiterate nomads in thatched huts having a image of JFK stuck there somewhere, there was never such immortalization coming for Richard Nixon or George H.W. Bush and perhaps that is the rub, the latter are practically divine avatar's to those whose business is the running of America.

With the added luxury of Oswald's communist credentials, serving as a catalyst to degrade and impugn the loyalty of anyone who attacks the official truth as defined by the Bugliosi's, Fuhrman's and Schiller's of our time.

45 years later we can witness the scandal's taking place as fast as the blog's can account for them, replete with a false tortured logic that paints the Republican Party as the gatekeepers of democracy even though, the last eight years serve as a textbook example of how not to run a country. And as long as the Republican's have in effect, "friends" like Governor Blagojevich, the mythos train will keep running like it has been for the last forty five years.

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