Kennedy clan – a dynasty in US politics

The Kennedy clan, lovingly thought of by some as America’s royal family, seemed destined for greatness from an early age.

It was through the 2nd oldest boy, John, that the world came to know the Kennedys. The 43-year-old president brought with him to the White House a youthful vigour and spirit of innovation that seemed to inspire not just the US but much of the rest of the world. His beautiful young wife and family, with their charisma and charm,
added to the allure.

It also heightened the sense of loss around the world when he was assassinated in 1963 in Dallas. There was a sense the world had been robbed of a great leader and a new era of promise. The international community shared in a nation’s grief, poignantly captured in the image of the young John’s salute for his slain father. The Kennedys were a close-knit clan. They rallied around Jackie and the children, Ted in particular.

Analyst Adam Clymer said: “He was very close to them. First, very close to Jack, who was his godfather. He was sitting in a chair, presiding over the senate when news from Dallas came, it put him in a tailspin.”

Ted was the youngest of Joe and Rose Kennedy’s nine children. He came to know grief at an early age when his oldest brother was killed in action in the war in 1944. With his death the bond between the remaining three brothers grew even stronger. Ted was 31 when John was assassinated. Prophetically, he feared the worst when Robert decided to run for the presidency.

“He worried about Robert running for president, he feared assassination. And then when Robert was shot and killed, he went into this deep depression. It’s the easiest way to describe it. It took him several months before he could get himself back to the Senate floor,” Clymer said.

In time he emerged to take up the baton for the Kennedy family and its causes. However he turned down the chance to run for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1972. His Oval office ambitions were never fulfilled but legacy is significant nonetheless.

Analyst Clymer remarked: “It’s the end of a Kennedy era. I don’t think there’s any reason to think that it’s an end of an era of the democratic party’s being concerned about the sort of values he holds. But yes, I think it is easy to say the end of an era.”

It all but brings the curtain down on a political dynasty as much noted for its tragedies as its achievements. Bearing the torch for the clan now is Caroline, the daughter of assassinated president. But it’s far from clear if she’s ready to quit her legal career to follow the path of her illustrious father and uncles.


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