Michael Capuano is my congressman. He does not make me yearn for Joe Kennedy to return. That's the plus side. He is now running for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senator, that is, for Teddy's seat. He is not the favorite. But neither is my candidate, Alan Khazei, an honest-to-God community organizer who co-founded City Year. The favorite in the polls is the Massachusetts attorney general, Martha Coakley, who is long on seniority in public office and a woman with common sense, sound political judgment, true rather than hyperbolic liberal values.
It ended serenely. Elegantly and meaningfully. Massachusetts mourned Ted Kennedy, and the nation did too. In death as in late life, he was among the people for whom he cared and whom he served. Long long ago he had been a rambunctious and over-privileged preppy, doubtless with many sins. The American people forgave him and, for his offenses, so did his church. He had corresponded with Pope Benedict and the Holy Father corresponded with him.
Good news: Joe Kennedy has decided not to run for Senate. Even if you put aside all the Chavez stuff, there was something profoundly undemocratic about the Kennedys treating that Senate seat as a family heirloom. As the Globe reports in its subhead, with Kennedy out of the picture, the "race is on." I'm still putting my money on Martha Coakley, especially if Lynch, Markey, and Capuano all run--thus making the women's vote that much more powerful in a Democratic primary.
Speculation as to who will succeed Ted Kennedy is proceeding apace, with his nephew, former Congressman Joseph Kennedy II, the likely frontrunner in the January 19 special election. The eldest son of Robert Kennedy, Joe held the House seat once occupied by his uncle John and House Speaker Tip O’Neill, representing Boston from 1987 until 1999. If he does run, Kennedy would start with a financial disadvantage.
As the United States faces its biggest economic crisis since the Great Depression, Barack Obama and his team have been looking to Franklin Delano Roosevelt for help. The influence so far is obvious: The stimulus measure passed by Congress in February includes money for building infrastructure, strengthening unemployment insurance, and helping state governments--all reminiscent of FDR's New Deal. It is now necessary for Obama to take the model one step further.
The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys: An American Saga by Doris Kearns Goodwin (Simon and Schuster, 932 pp., $22.95) At a family gathering recorded by Doris Kearns Goodwin, Joseph Patrick Kennedy boasted: "This is the most exclusive club in the world." It was his revenge for the exclusions he had suffered in Boston and at Harvard; and revenge, as usual, shaped its bearer to the likeness of its object. Kennedy had become richer, more snobbish, and more exclusive than any of his original tormentors.
As nearly as can be determined, it all started when Joe Kennedy rented out a restaurant for a private dinner the night before his son's inauguration in 1961. The restaurant was Paul Young's on Connecticut Avenue, Its menu featured a bland mix somewhere between French cuisine and French fries, a combination usually described as "continental," presumably because the term doesn't specify which continent and therefore stretches from Lyons, the hometown of haute cuisine, to Kansas City, the capital of charcoal broiled steaks.