Thursday, June 5, 2008

40 Years Ago and a 46 year Senate Career

On May 29, I and many others took note of what would have been the ninety-first birthday of John Fitzgerald Kennedy. It will be Labor Day when this blog will get around to my favorite president, so you will just have to stay tuned.

Today the nation and the world mark another somber anniversary. It was forty years ago tonight that Robert Francis Kennedy was assassinated at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, after winning the California Primary. This event was recently brought to the front of everyone's consciousness when Hillary Clinton reminded that the primary season went into June before and bad things can happen to the front runner. Though it seems that it hasn't worked out all that well for her this week now, has it?

Bobby was the seventh of the nine children of Joe and Rose Kennedy. He lived much of his life in the shadow of his older siblings, particularly his brother John, who tapped him to serve as his Attorney General. After JFK's assassination, he and President Johnson did not see eye to eye and Kennedy left the administration and went off to run for the Senate from New York, to which he was elected in 1964. He soon decided to pick up the mantle of his brother's legacy and declared his intention to run for the presidency in 1968. There is an excellent chance that had Kennedy lived, he would have won the Presidency in 1968.

Robert Kennedy was buried from St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City and then transported by train to his final resting place at Arlington Cemetery, where he was placed near his brother John. His younger brother Teddy eulogized his brother in one of the most moving speeches you will ever hear.

Teddy is now the patriarch of the Kennedy clan, by virtue of being the last man standing. Edward Moore Kennedy is the senior Senator from Massachusetts, elected to the Senate (to the seat previously occupied by his brother John) in 1962. Here's an interesting trivia question, John Kennedy was elected President in 1960 and took office in January 1961, resigning his Senate seat in December 1960. Teddy was old enough to serve in the Senate, having not yet turned 30. Who sat in the seat to keep it warm until an election could take place in 1962?

Of course, Ted is in the front of many of our minds these days, even if you are from the other side of the aisle. The Lion of the Senate is sick. Kennedy has been diagnoses with brain cancer, and just had surgery to remove as much of the tumor as doctors could get to. He will now undergo radiation and chemotherapy to further extend his survival. However, patients with this type of tumor normally die within two years of diagnosis. Ted has not had the easiest of lives although if anyone could beat this, it would be him. I hope he can.

I noted with some interest just yesterday that Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg was named to Barack Obama's Vice Presidential Search Committee. Kennedy had endorsed Obama in January 2008, in a New York Times Op-Ed piece, "A President Like My Father."

1 comment:

ADR said...

Yes, I covered similar material today. RFK is near the top of my list when one asks the "what might have been" question.