Archive | December, 2007

New Kennedy Books for the Holidays

22 Dec

For many of us, the holidays are a perfect time to catch up on our reading. All that time spent traveling or relaxing at home is often accompanied by a good book. There’s nothing quite like curling up under a blanket on a cold winter night with a new book you’re eager to devour, and for readers of this blog, a favorite subject is the Kennedy family.

2007 saw the release of several interesting new books by and about the Kennedys. If you’re out doing a little last-minute Christmas shopping this weekend, here are a few recent titles in print we’d like to recommend:

A Family Christmas by Caroline Kennedy

The Kennedys: Portrait of a Family by Richard Avedon

American Hero: Joshua Chamberlain and the American Civil War, by Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

Bobby and J. Edgar Hoover by Burton Hersh

Failing America’s Faithful by Kathleen Kennedy Townsend

Brothers: The Hidden History of the Kennedy Years by David Talbot

Jack and Lem: The Untold Story of an Extraordinary Friendship by David Pitts

I think that’s probably enough to keep you occupied for a while. If you have a favorite new (2007) Kennedy book you’d like to recommend, let us know about it by posting a comment below. We’ll try and add as many of your suggestions as possible to the list.

Wishing you happy holidays (and endless hours of enjoyable reading) from all of us at!


Kennedy Family Split On Endorsements

19 Dec

Interesting story from Politico this week:


By Carrie Budoff Brown

Like any other American family, the Kennedys are a house divided when it comes the 2008 presidential race.

Kathleen Kennedy Townsend and her sister, Kerry, have hit the trail for Hillary Rodham Clinton. So has their brother, Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

Old hands to President John F. Kennedy and Sen. Robert F. Kennedy dote on Barack Obama, in part because he reminds them of the charismatic brothers.

Eunice Kennedy Shriver and a half-dozen other family members put money on Christopher Dodd.

And everybody wants to know where Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) will go. Yet he isn’t talking — or likely to endorse.

A tangle of longstanding political ties, friendships and gut feelings has caused the Kennedys and those closely identified with them to scatter across the primary field.

But the Democratic pursuit of their endorsements and their cash underline how the presidential candidates still chase the Kennedy imprimatur like it is their party’s seal of approval, automatically transferring warm feelings of the family’s legacy to them.

“There is certainly a romantic aspect to it,” said Eric Smith, a press aide to former Rep. Dick Gephardt (D-Miss.) during his 2004 presidential campaign, which picked up support that year from U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D) of Rhode Island.

“That period in the Democratic Party is one of great optimism. It is one that Democratic activists think of very fondly. So an association with that time is a positive in the eyes of Democratic activists.”

Ted Kennedy is the biggest catch.

The senator reeled in Iowans for John Kerry in 2004, drawing crowds that only Howard Dean could muster. Democratic activist Bonnie Campbell, who was backing Dean, recalls walking into her Des Moines precinct on caucus night, spotting Kennedy in the doorway, and hearing her husband say: “We are screwed.”

With a field this year that includes his Senate buddy (Dodd) and two members of his Senate committee (Clinton and Obama), Ted Kennedy appears ready to sit this one out.

“Senator Kennedy has no immediate plans to endorse a candidate,” said a statement released by Kennedy’s office. “He has very strong relationships with many of these candidates personally, and he has a lot of respect for them. Senator Kennedy believes that any one of them would make a great president. He looks forward to the campaign and seeing a Democrat elected to the White House.”

His family is definitely picking sides, however.

But the former Kennedy aides are the ones drawing the most attention for their bold comparisons. Obama received an email from Harris Wofford, 81, a former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania and adviser to President John F. Kennedy, soon after his keynote address at the 2004 Democratic convention. The message: “Do not let this moment pass.”

“He touches my soul, and I think he has touched the soul of America,” said Wofford in an interview after endorsing Obama this month. “For me, no one has done that since John, Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King. I waited a long time to have that feeling.”

For George Stevens Jr., the longtime producer of the Kennedy Center Honors who worked in the Kennedy administration, Obama “captures the spirit” of Bobby Kennedy. Stevens, too, wrote Obama a letter to tell him so. And Stevens later signed on as an informal adviser to the campaign.
Theodore Sorensen, 79, a former speechwriter to President Kennedy, traveled to Iowa in October to endorse Obama and challenge the criticism of him as not yet ready, citing JFK and the Cuban Missile Crisis as evidence. “That young president who had been accused of being too inexperienced and too young successfully steered the country through that crisis,” Sorensen said of Kennedy, who was 43 years old when he took office.

Obama, who would be 47 at his inauguration, seemingly does his part to encourage the link.
There was the February announcement speech, when he went hatless and gloveless on a frigid morning, stirring comparisons to President Kennedy’s inaugural address. He talks of a new generation of leadership and moving past the political fights of the 1990s. And he invokes the former president on the trail, usually as he defends his intention to talk to enemy states: “John F. Kennedy once said you should never negotiate out of fear, but never fear to negotiate.”

But if Obama is the new JFK, the late president’s family hasn’t received the memo. None has endorsed Obama, although several have donated to his campaign, with their contributions adding up to at least $9,000, according to data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics.

The Kennedy family, including Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg and her husband, Edwin, has sent more than $15,000 to Clinton. Dodd has received more than $17,000 from members of the family, such as Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the sister of the late president.

On endorsements, Clinton and Dodd have received $4,000 apiece from the family. None carry the heft of Sen. Kennedy, but each can claim their own constituencies.

In Clinton’s camp is Robert F. Kennedy Jr., a well-known environmentalist; Kerry Kennedy, a human rights activist; Rory Kennedy, a documentary filmmaker; and Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, a former Maryland lieutenant governor and recognized female political leader.

On Dodd’s side is Rep. Patrick Kennedy Jr.; Ted Kennedy Jr., an advocate for people with disabilities; Timothy Shriver, chairman of Special Olympics; and Bobby Shriver, who works with U2’s Bono on AIDS and debt relief.

In endorsing Dodd, they talked about his work on behalf of children, his stint in the Peace Corps and his support for foreign assistance. But they always came back to the personal — and who best embodied the Kennedy legacy.

“When my uncle Jack asked people in the country in 1960, ‘ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country,’ Sen. Dodd answered that call,” said Ted Kennedy Jr., “ and that’s exactly the kind of inspiration that is needed in this country today.”


TM & © THE POLITICO & POLITICO.COM, a division of Allbritton Communications Company 

RFK Jr. Interviews Hillary Clinton

16 Dec

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. spoke with Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton for nearly an hour on his Air America radio show this weekend. In a Ring of Fire exclusive interview with the candidate Bobby has formally endorsed for president, he compared those who engage in Clinton-bashing to the Roosevelt haters of the 1930s and `40s. (See related story: “Kennedy Attacks the Hillary Haters.”)

 Kennedy and Clinton discussed the ironic fact that the same people who often attacked FDR for his “socialist” New Deal economic recovery policies also benefited greatly from them. Reflected by the growth of their own personal income, stock portfolios and investments, one might think these Roosevelt haters should have been some of FDR’s greatest supporters.

He applied this logic to the Clinton presidency, as well as Senator Clinton’s candidacy, arguing that the Clintons ushered in a time of economic prosperity after a recession, just as FDR brought an end to the Great Depression. And that they too were harshly attacked.


Without argument, Bill Clinton won the presidency in 1992 primarily with “it’s the economy, stupid.” He had the answer Americans wanted to hear at a time when we’d suffered quite enough of trickle-down Reaganomics, thank you.

Considering the shape our economy is in today after nearly 8 years of the Bush administration (who wiped out the Clinton-era budget surplus and plunged the country into unimaginable debt), it’s fair to speculate that Hillary would win in `08 if this disastrous economic trend continues.

Why? Because she is the only candidate (of either party) who is proven and experienced when it comes to fixing another fine mess some Bush has gotten us into. Love or hate Hillary, few will quibble with the fact that she and her husband’s administration repaired the American economy after Reagan and George H.W. Bush wrecked it in the ’80s.


No doubt Mrs. Clinton is already making “it’s the economy, stupid” the basic message of her campaign. This tried-and-true formula has served the Democratic party perfectly well from the days of Roosevelt; it worked like a charm in 1992, and if the bottom falls out between now and next November, you can bet your bottom dollar that it will work again in 2008.

Might as well bet your bottom dollar on Hillary. By this time next year, it may well just be the last dollar you have, so what do you have to lose, right?

Your freedom? Your Constitution? A son or daughter in Iraq, Afghanistan, or even Iran?

These issues, which have been in the forefront of our minds during the long dark night of the Bush years, are already starting to take a back seat to economic issues in recent polls. Historically, the larger foreign policy issues, even matters of war and peace, quickly fall behind major domestic problems in an election year.

Perhaps that means we Americans are indeed selfish creatures, always thinking about ourselves. How quickly we forget the poor Iraqi and Afghan people’s plight as soon as we start losing our own jobs, our mortgages, our cherished standard of living. We’re worried about gas reaching $4/gallon and how that will affect our purchase of some new high-priced gizmo this Christmas.

But at least we don’t have to dodge bombs in our streets every day and witness the carnage of war up close and personal. So long as the war is “over there,” we Americans usually figure we’ve got bigger fish to fry right here on the home front, thus pushing foreign policy to the back burner.


At this point, sadly, it seems doubtful that any candidate can win on an anti-war platform, or even to focus their campaign strategy on reversing our disastrous foreign policy. The audience “reaction-o-meter” clearly shows that eyes begin to glaze over when a candidate talks too much about the hard realities of Iraq — but we quickly perk up again when talk turns to the exportation of American jobs, the mortgage crisis, the credit crunch, the war on the middle class, unchecked illegal immigration, and other hot domestic issues.

I may not agree with Senator Clinton’s voting record, her past performance as First Lady, or her current stand on many of the issues I value most, but I will say she’s got one thing right:

“It’s the Economy, Stupid.”

I predict this road-tested mantra will take her directly back to the White House. That doesn’t mean she’s got my vote. But if my prediction of a landslide is correct, she certainly won’t need it.

Until then, hang on to your jobs, America! (That is, if you’re still fortunate enough to have one…) And by this time next year, we might just be singing some of those old songs from the 1930s like “Brother, Can You Spare A Dime?”

Or is it “Happy Days Are Here Again?” Well…hey, it worked for Franklin!


Listen to the Ring of Fire Radio interview here. (Hillary Clinton appears in Hour 1, about 15 minutes into the broadcast.)

Or if you prefer visuals, watch it at GoLeft:

Text copyright Audio/Video courtesy of Air America and

Kennedy Attacks the “Hillary Haters”

16 Dec

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. had a few choice words for “Hillary Haters” this week.

In a Dec. 12th article he blogged at The Huffington Post, RFK Jr. compared Clinton-bashing to the intense hatred many Americans felt towards President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the 1930s and `40s. He argued that this same “vast right wing conspiracy” is still alive and well in American politics and is now working overtime against the Clintons.

While the historical comparison of the Clintons and the Roosevelts is fascinating and Bobby certainly presents a very interesting argument in this piece, it seems that much of the Huffington Post’s membership wasn’t buying it. The comments section quickly exploded with reaction; at last count, over 700 HuffPo members have weighed in on the subject. Hint: Things really heat up on pg. 3)

The point many are making is: “I’m not a Hillary hater. I just hate the things she’s done.”

Before we simply dismiss this point of view as “hating” on Mrs. Clinton, perhaps we should remember that unlike the attacks on FDR, the ABH (Anyone But Hillary) alliance is composed of Democrats as well as Republicans. A sizeable number of Democrats at that.

To my mind, the key difference between HRC and FDR is that FDR was being fired upon by Conservatives, not Liberals. Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, inspires tremendous distrust and division among members of her own party. This worries me.

To the Republicans she’s a “socialist” — to progressives, she’s “Bush Lite.” (Never was a woman so misunderstood, eh?) Many within her own party say she prefers the comfort of the fence to forging a bold New Frontier. Others believe she’s a corporate puppet deviod of principles, an empty pantsuit standing at the podium.

And as for the much-prized female vote in 2008, a large number of Democratic women say: “I’d love to see a woman president. But not this woman.”

With the Iowa Caucuses and the first primaries now only a few short weeks away and her poll numbers slipping, we shall soon see how all this plays out for Hillary Clinton on the campaign trail.

In his latest blog post, RFK Jr. feels confident that the tide will turn in Hillary’s favor because he’s seen her win over the dubious masses before. Just as with Roosevelt, he says, Hillary knows how to turn intense hatred into fervent support — and Kennedy still believes that she will.

Waterkeeper Benefit/Celebrity SkiFest Airs on CBS Dec. 16

8 Dec

Robert F. Kennedy Jr.


Several members of the Kennedy family will gather in Park City, Utah this weekend as Deer Valley Resort kicks off its winter ski season with a celebrity ski race to benefit Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s Waterkeeper Alliance.

The Deer Valley Celebrity Skifest takes place place December 8 and 9, and will be filmed by CBS for rebroadcast next weekend. The invitational ski event pairs former Olympic ski legends with television and film celebrities for a weekend of skiing, live music and fundraising for the environmental group Waterkeeper Alliance. The Waterkeeper Alliance is an international coalition of citizen advocates who patrol and protect their local waterbodies, fighting for clean water and strong communities.

Some of the best-known legends of U.S. skiing will compete in the year’s event, including Steve Mahre, Tommy Moe and Deer Valley’s own Ambassador of Skiing Heidi Voelker.

Celebrities scheduled to attend at this time include: Buzz Aldrin, Kevin Costner, Tim Daly, Carlos Bernard, Larry David, Julia Louis- Dreyfus, Rob Morrow, Scott Wolf, Kelsey Grammar, Sam Waterston, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Chris Kennedy, Kerry Kennedy, Maxwell Kennedy, Rory Kennedy, Penelope Ann Miller, Matthew Modine, Mike Richter, Gloria Reuben and Patrick Warburton.

CBS Sports will once again broadcast a recap of the annual Deer Valley Celebrity Skifest, which is set to air Sunday, Dec. 16, at 5 p.m. EST.

According to Variety, the Celebrity Skifest was created by Bob Horowitz, who now runs Juma Entertainment (NBC’s “The Singing Bee”). Juma is on board to produce the CBS special, with Horowitz as exec producer.

“Waterkeeper Alliance is an outstanding cause, and we are thankful to all the participants who donate their efforts, time and money for their benefit,” Horowitz said. 

While in town for the event, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. will also give a speech at the Eccles Center for the Performing Arts on the campus of Park City High School. He will speak at 5:30 p.m. on December 9th. (For more information, please see our “Upcoming Events” sidebar.)