Ted Kennedy on Principles & Values
Democratic Sr Senator (MA)
"There was another time, when another young candidate was running for president and challenging America to cross a New Frontier," Kennedy thundered. "He faced public criticism from the preceding Democratic president. Harry Truman said we needed 'someone with greater experience.' John Kennedy replied" 'The world is changing. The old ways will not do It's time for a new generation of leadership.' So it is with Barack Obama. He has lit a spark of hope amid the fierce urgency of now."
The overt passing of the Kennedy torch touched something in Obama. Gazing out of the crowd of euphoric college kids, overcome by what the media would describe as a "Camelot moment," he found himself choked up. The Kennedy effect on Obama's fortunes was hard to overstate. For superdelegates, Ted's stamp of approval was at once a potent symbol and a permission slip.
My parents' marriage in October 1914 united the Boston Kennedy and the Boston Fitzgeralds. I was born Edward Moore Kennedy, after my father's longtime personal secretary, confidant, and close family friend. Eddie Moore had been an assistant to three Boston mayors, including John "Honey Fitz" Fitzgerald, my mother's legendary father.
The Irish Catholics had established a small middle class, which overlapped with a strong and tightly knit political class. Honey Fitz was an example of the latter. My dad's own father, Patrick Joseph, lived in both. He was the soft-spoken owner of three saloons, and a leader of East Boston's Democratic Party.
I marched up the gangplank of the USS Washington to join Dad in London. Kathleen, Rosemary, Bobby and I lived at the American ambassador's residence with our parents, while Eunice, Pat and Jean boarded at a nearby convent.Bobby and I met Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret at Windsor Castle. We danced with each other. I doubt that any of us children made a huge impression on any other.
A friend jokingly suggested that I let another buddy, Bill Frate, take the exam for me. Bill told me that if I wanted him to do it, he was willing. To my lasting regret, I said, "Great." I didn't think it through. I made an immature, spontaneous, extremely poor and wrong decision.
Bill took the exam--under the eye of a proctor who happened to be his adviser, and who knew he'd already passed a Spanish test. Which had exempted him from having to take the course. Harvard sentenced each of us to a year's suspension. We were told we could come back if we'd done something useful with that time.
I felt terrible. I knew I'd screwed up. I wanted to prove myself and return to Harvard. Serving in the military made the most sense.
I have been told that 20 books have been published that deal in while or in part with what has been known as "Chappaquiddick". I have not attempted to knock down each of these theories.
My thoughts through the hours that followed the accident were disrupted by shock, terror, and the concussion that I received on impact. In any event, I gave testimony about those events at the time, and that testimony is the best evidence of the chronology of that evening.
But my concept of myself as presiden had little or nothing to do with Camelot. The era that shaped Jack & Bobby had passed. The present era was quite different in mood, in collective experience, and in the challenges the nation faced. Jack's and Bobby's great legacies inspired me, but cold reason told me that I could not run as their surrogate, nor could I govern according to their templates. My goals, my style would derive from my own judgments as to what I wanted to accomplish.
The most important reason I declined to make the race in 1968, aside from my debilitating grief, derived specifically from that refusal to be a surrogate. I knew that if I ran, I wouldn't be running as myself. I wasn't ready. In 1972, it still felt too soon, and my son's health took precedence.
I could not believe it at first. I had campaigned with everything I had. I'd visited Iowa's cities and towns again and again. What had gone wrong?
I finally got the answer from Harold Hughes, the former Iowa governor: "You'd arrive in one of these little towns, and there'd be a 100 people waiting for you. But you'd bring 20 Secret Service agents with you, and they would be pushing people around, telling them to sit over there. And then there would be 30 TV cameras. Now, when I campaigned in Iowa, I'd shake everybody's hand."
Hughes's folksy approach made sense to me. Unfortunately in my case, it was an impossibility. The Secret Service agents and the TV people were following me around, on the assumption that I was a marked man.
The Kennedys and the Clintons were the royalty of the Democratic Party, their reigns stretching over half a century of national and party politics. Throughout the month of January 2008, as Obama and Hillary Clinton battled through the early states, Ted Kennedy and Bill Clinton were engaged in a behind-the-scenes struggle over Kennedy's endorsement that reached a crescendo just as Obama was winning South Carolina.
The day after Iowa, Bill Clinton called Kennedy. The former president believed he had been good to the Kennedys when he was in office, recalling to aides what he had done over the years.
Sometimes, what it means is disaster. The terrifying thing about Iowa, from the point of view of a candidate running for president, is that a stunningly small number of people control your destiny. "Thirty-three percent of the citizens of Iowa couldn't be wrong," Ted Kennedy famously said on the night he lost the Iowa caucus in 1980, which promptly pushed him to lose New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and California, when it didn't matter any more. We were dead after Iowa. Seventeen percent of the people in Iowa that year killed us.
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George W. Bush(R,2001-2009)
George Bush Sr.(R,1989-1993)
John F. Kennedy(D,1961-1963)