The Kennedys are a-feudin’ over endorsements. On team Clinton, Kathleen, Robert F., Jr., and Kerry. In Obama’s corner, Caroline, Edward, and Patrick. What about George? Or Jayne and Leon Isaac?
I’ve never understood the preoccupation with the Kennedy clan, save among those who were 20 in 1960 or 1963 or 1968. Why are their endorsements so sought after? Does anyone care what Luci Baines Johnson or Chip Carter thinks?
Now claiming RF’s or JF’s mantle is the Democratic equivalent of invoking Reagan at every turn, but it’s an even more perilous sort of mythologizing; because they died young and tragically, we don’t know what sort of disappointments they might have brought our way (and is the Bay of Pigs planning the sort of decisionmaking model we should aspire to?). So appeals to their legacy speak more of hope and promise than they do accomplishment, which doesn’t do much to quell concerns about both candidates’ inexperience. (For that matter, as Sean Wilentz points out, JFK had a considerable record before running for president.) And with Obama’s distaste for dynastic rule (Bush or Clinton), why seek the benediction of our most-nearly royal family?
Update: Thanks to the eagle-eyed readers who pointed out that I’d reversed the Kennedy endorsements. I’d made the error in haste, but a thought-experiment occurs to me. If you were told that RFK’s children had taken one side, and Ted, Patrick, and Caroline the other, would it be obvious which was which?