Archive | February, 2009

The Remarkable Life of Ted Kennedy

15 Feb


* As Senator Edward M. Kennedy continues to battle terminal brain cancer, The Boston Globe paid homage’ to this icon of American politics with a lengthy biography published just before his 77th birthday.

Edward Moore Kennedy, ninth child of Joseph P. and Rose Kennedy, was born on Feb. 22, 1932 – which just happened to be the 200th anniversary of George Washington’s birthday. Whether or not he took it as an omen, the proud father, who already envisioned a Kennedy becoming the first Catholic president, often pointed out the felicitous date to others.

Ironically, the presidency would not be bestowed upon Teddy, of course. Nor would it be in the destiny of JP Kennedy’s eldest son Joe Jr., the one his father had always predicted would be president.

As fate would have it, the only member of the Kennedy family who achieved that goal was the one assumed least likely to make it: Joe’s second son, the chronically (and often seriously) ill John F. Kennedy.

And as fate would also decree, President Kennedy’s time in that high office would be tragically cut short by an assassin’s bullet after little more than a thousand days.

Jack’s younger brother Robert, attorney general of the United States, was next in line to lead the family political dynasty. Bobby picked up the torch and attempted to reclaim the presidency in his brother’s memory. After being elected senator from New York in 1964, RFK ran for the White House four years later and may well have completed the journey had it not been for his ill-fated campaign stop at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles on June 4, 1968.

Ted (L), Jack (center) and Bobby (R) in Washington, D.C., 1958

Ted (L), Jack (center) and Bobby (R) in Washington, D.C., 1958

After losing all three of his elder brothers and seeing his father incapacitated by a stroke, Ted Kennedy, then-senator from Massachusetts, suddenly became the unlikely patriarch. For the next 40 years, not a day would pass that Teddy didn’t have someone approach and ask him to run for the presidency.

Despite a 1964 plane crash that almost killed him and the 1969 Chappaquiddick incident which nearly ruined his political career, Ted Kennedy did make a run for the White House in 1980, but lost the Democratic nomination to President Jimmy Carter. Well, he gave it the old college try, as they say, then he wisely chose to spend the rest of his years focusing on the responsibility of being a U.S. Senator. Ted seemed happy with his choice and never looked back.

But that didn’t stop people from asking. Would he ever run again? Why not the Presidency, they asked him over and over again as the years turned into decades. He’d say no a thousand times, and still the question was repeated.

Well, they finally stopped asking one day last May. When it became known that Senator Kennedy had been diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor, that long-held dream of putting the last Kennedy brother in the White House was over.

As Ted Kennedy prepares to sail on his final voyage, heading for that bright horizon where he will reunite with all of his beloved friends and family who sailed before him, we’d like to encourage our readers to honor his birthday and celebrate his remarkable life. One way to do it is to take some time out of your busy day and read this well-researched and often moving tribute to Senator Edward Kennedy in the Boston Globe. Highly recommended.

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Where is the Outrage at Treatment of Caroline Kennedy?

8 Feb

* This passionate letter to the editor of the Daily News (NY) so eloquently expresses the disappointment and outrage many of us feel about Caroline Kennedy’s shameful treatment at the hands of the New York media, and especially, Governor David Patterson and his cronies, who still have some `splainin’ to do. (Read more here: “Watchdog Demands Investigation Into Kennedy Leak”, WCBS-TV, NYC)



Where is the outrage, the regret, the disappointment? OK, so at least some of us didn’t want to be represented in the U.S. Senate by Caroline Kennedy.

Whether it was because she says “Uh, ya know” or used some other slang in her verbal expression, or whether it was because we didn’t want her taking advantage of the Kennedy name, or maybe, we thought she just plain was not qualified — it does not matter! The daughter of a slain U.S. president, a niece of two U.S. public servants, one who was assassinated as he was running for president, deserves better treatment from a crude, somewhat rude press and their pundits. How can we have become so callous?

I was serving in the U.S. Navy on Nov. 22, 1963, when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. Proud to be doing what I was doing if only because my president served faithfully and heroically as a PT boat commander in the Navy during World War II. At the time of his tragic death, we in the Navy overseas were totally immersed in President Kennedy’s “People to People” program, the president’s own method of spreading American friendship around the world. I was shocked as were my shipmates, as we cruised the Agean Sea, suddenly on high alert, our destination Athens, Greece, for a refuel stop. But for the churning engines the silence was deafening aboard my ship that day, that hour, that moment, that we were given the heartwrenching news.

Later we all watched on TV as Caroline, her father’s little girl, and young John Jr. marched in the funeral procession with their mother Jackie. To us, she was never Jacqueline, just Jackie. She was at that moment our heartbroken heroine — she now belonged to all of us. Grown men teared up as they watched. We regaled in Jackie’s courage and determination and how she had prepared her children to appear in public that day with stiff upper lip.

They all made us proud and we will forever pay homage to our president, patriot, war hero whom I will not forget and a love for his family to whom this country is forever deeply indebted.

We still love you Caroline for the burden of sacrifice you carried as a little girl to where you are now. I am sorry that we did not speak up for you when we should have. I apologize to you for the way you have been mistreated. You should have been able to expect more from us and we should have expected more of ourselves. All done in the guise of news gathering, the old adage “Good men need only to remain silent for evil to flourish” has again reared its ugly head.

There are certain people to whom this country will always be deeply indebted. We now seem to have casually shucked that debt much like we shrug off a minor obligation, our own citizenship responsibility. That is indeed a sad epitaph.

Bob Farnham