“If your name was Edward Moore, your candidacy would be a joke,” decried a dejected Republican Candidate for US Senate in Massachusetts.
The year was 1961, right after John Fitzgerald Kennedy had won the Presidency thereby relinquishing his old Senate seat in Massachusetts. By that time, he had already appointed his younger brother Robert Kennedy as the new Attorney General of the United States and so the only other Joe Kennedy Snr’s son who was available was a young Edward Moore Kennedy who had virtually no experience but that didn’t matter and just like that he threw his hat into the ring as a contender for his elder brother’s US Senate seat.
His opponents were seasoned politicians with splendid records and so when it was time for the debate, they considered Edward Moore Kennedy a Hail Mary, not only unknown but a political rookie, an opportunist cashing in on the Kennedy name. And as it turned out, the Kennedy name was all he needed. He won the seat in a landslide.
That feat thrust the Kennedy family into the limelight as the sole political royalty in the United States. In 1962, Joe Kennedy Snr .was the most powerful father in the US. His son John F Kennedy was President of the United States, his son Robert Kennedy was the Attorney General of the United States and finally his younger son, Edward Kennedy was the US Senator from Massachusetts. A powerful political trifecta envied by many. Joe Kennedy Snr himself was also a former US Ambassador to the UK and the first ever Securities and Exchange Commission boss. But their success in the public limelight has been dogged by misfortunes. Truth be told, no family has seen misfortunes camp in it’s midst like the Kennedys but to this day, they keep on writing their own narrative.
His word choice is unique and he carries himself as the defacto President.
Armed with the oratorical prowess of President Barack Obama, blessed with the diction of his Great-Uncle President John F Kennedy and endowed with a blue-chipped name, Massachusetts Congressman Joe Kennedy III has taken America by storm! At 37 years old, the Stanford University and Harvard trained attorney at law has emerged as the most eloquent and erudite critic of President Trump. Strategically picking the right moments to pounce, the three-term Congressman has single-handedly given a dejected Democratic party some much-needed hope.
Congressman Joe Kennedy III is the grandson of former Attorney General of the US Robert Kennedy. His father was also a congressman but never possessed the political pizzazz of the young son. To many a political junkie, his intonation brings back the Camelot nostalgia. His word choice is unique and he carries himself as the defacto President.
And he has perfected it much to the chagrin of the political class. When President Trump labeled African countries as “Shitholes,’ he was right on cue with a succinct takedown of the President. That dexterity was also on display when the Republicans shut down the government despite being in control of both houses of Congress and the White House. Congressman Kennedy took to the House floor with a laundry list of Americans who were the hardest hit during the shutdown. His presentation was so powerful that it resonated with members of the other side of the political aisle.
On Martin Luther King Day, speaking in a church in Washington DC, Mr. Kennnedy gave one of the most watched speeches on equality and tolerance while drawing a clear contrast with Trump. This attention and political star power that Mr. Kennedy exudes has caught the eyes of Democratic power-brokers who are now giving him treatment that is reminiscent of what they gave Obama after his blockbuster speech at the DNC convention in Boston in 2004.
On Tuesday, Congressman Joe Kennedy III has a date with America and with that, his political destiny
President Trump is set to give his maiden State-of-the-Union address to the joint session of Congress on Tuesday night. This is a big deal because of the sheer attention that it will attract.This is the only moment that presidents get to address and interact with members of the opposition while also getting a chance to lay out their agenda to tens of millions of Americans watching on TV in primetime. After the President’s speech, the country turns to the opposition for a rebuttal. That speech too is carried live on television and is watched by the same amount of viewers. Political parties normally turn to the future of the party, almost like a next-in-line person. Therefore, the number of wannabe leaders craving national attention often spoiling for a chance to give the opposition’s response normally skyrockets.
In the Trump era, the number is in the quintillions. Faced with legions of formidable candidates and also-rans, the Democratic leadership gave the coveted spot to Congressman Joe Kennedy III. This will be his 2004 DNC moment. He will have the country and the world on his palm with colossal expectations to boot. But like the incomparable David Axelrod once said: ” Sometimes it falls upon the candidate to take it to the next level and the best usually do.”
On Tuesday, Congressman Joe Kennedy III has a date with America and with that, his political destiny. So far, the Democrats like what they see, but, will Mr. Kennedy channel his inner JFK and challenge America to send a man to the moon or will he challenge them to “ask not what their country can do for them and ask what they can do for their country?”
We will find out shortly.
Mike Dande is a political analyst based in Washington DC.