The Magazine

Inherit the What?

The Kennedy legacy isn't what it used to be.

Jan 5, 2009, Vol. 14, No. 16 • By NOEMIE EMERY
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The Kennedys, however, seem oblivious to these contradictions, a fact shown in Caroline's choice of her cousin Kerry to serve as spokesman and surrogate, even though Kerry's public service credentials are even weaker than Caroline's, and her main claim to public attention was as a tabloid heroine in a spectacular divorce in 2003 from Andrew Cuomo, Caroline's rival in dynasticism. Caroline meanwhile is trying to run on the legacy of her father and Bobby, while embracing a post-60s Teddy-type platform strikingly out of step with that of her father and late uncle.

Would Jack, who threatened pre-emptive war over missiles in Cuba, have really opposed a war with Iraq after Saddam defied U.N. resolutions? Would Bobby, who made his chops busting corrupt labor unions, have supported the end of the secret ballot in union elections? What would Jack and Bobby have said to the feminist social agenda, up to and including late-term abortion? And what would Bobby have said of gay marriage?

If Caroline wants to run as a legatee, she should explain which Kennedy legacy she supports, and why she supports it (including the tax cuts put in by her father.) She could start by reading her father's inaugural and seeing if there are any parts she believes in. Would she "bear any burden and pay any price" to ensure the survival of liberty? If she wouldn't, she should tell us why.

Noemie Emery, a WEEKLY STANDARD contributing editor, is the author of Great Expectations: The Troubled Lives
of Political Families.