The Scrapbook was just getting pleasantly accustomed to a Congress without Kennedys—our personal favorite, Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy (D-R.I.), announced his retirement in 2009—but on the morning after Election Day, we discovered they’re back. (Or baaack, depending on your point of view.) The new Kennedy in town is 32-year-old Joseph Kennedy III, who in turn is the son of former congressman Joseph Kennedy II, best known for his marital misadventures and frequent temper tantrums on the House floor.
The freshman Kennedy will be representing Barney Frank’s old district in a southeastern segment of Massachusetts. In the family tradition, young Kennedy moved into the Fourth Congressional District, immediately filed to run—and, we concede, is not entirely unqualified: He is a graduate of Stanford and Harvard Law School, and was an assistant district attorney in Middlesex County. On the other hand, his Republican opponent, Sean Bielat, was a successful high-tech executive and Marine Reserve major, a graduate of Georgetown with an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and a master’s degree in public policy from Harvard’s Kennedy (!) School of Government. But of course, this is Massachusetts.
What intrigued The Scrapbook, however, was not this specimen of standard Kennedy behavior—unearned sense of entitlement endorsed by voters—so much as what we might call the hereditary principle.
There was a time, a very long time ago, when the “next generation” of Kennedys was expected to overwhelm American politics and, at the least, recapture the White House for old times’ sake. But only a handful of them actually scraped into office—the aforementioned Patrick and Joe, Lieutenant Governor Kathleen Kennedy Townsend of Maryland, one or two others—and quite apart from the sex scandals, drug overdoses, and periodic scrapes with the law, the “next generation” turned out to be something of a bust. (For dynastic reasons we are not including former governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.)
Which is why we so much enjoyed the Boston Globe’s endorsement of Kennedy. The Scrapbook had no illusions that the Globe might embrace his opponent, who is after all a Republican. But after praising Bielat’s disposition, superior experience, impressive campaign, and persuasive opinions, the Globe urged readers (who probably really didn’t need urging) to “take a chance on Kennedy. He has natural political gifts that make up for his inexperience, and voters can feel confident that he will grow into an effective advocate for the district.”
Better yet, said the Globe, Joseph Kennedy III’s “commitment to building a more just society is practically in his DNA.” Which, coming from the leading newspaper in the city that invented the Tea Party as a symbol of resistance to royalty, is saying a mouthful. But not to worry: The Boston Globe guarantees that Kennedy’s genes will make up for his callowness, and success is assured. It’s in the blood.