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Oral History

Edward Kennedy Jr., Kara Kennedy, Patrick Kennedy Oral History

Copyright 2016 the Miller Center Foundation and the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate.

Young

This is an interview, December 9th, with Ted Kennedy Jr., Kara Kennedy, and Patrick Kennedy, in Washington, a group interview. We will start with some reflections by Ted Jr.

E. Kennedy

First, this is a little unusual for me to be in this situation, because I think this is the first time since Dad’s death that the three of us have sat together and actually talked to anybody about his life. The only reason we’re doing this interview–I speak for myself–is because we know how important this oral history project was to my father, and how much respect he had for you, Jim [Young], and you, Bonnie [Burns].

I think the reason my father told you stories about his own childhood and his Senate history and whatnot, but maybe hadn’t really reflected a tremendous amount on our family, is because he was a really private man. He was constantly bombarded by the media, and there was so much interest in our family growing up, and stories and newspapers and TV cameras and whatnot, that he was very protective of his family life. Even until the day he died, he didn’t really want to talk about what he felt were private, intimate moments that weren’t necessarily for–he didn’t really intend for the moments we shared to be for public discussion.

Young

Yes.

E. Kennedy

I don’t know. If I say anything you disagree with, let me know.

K. Kennedy

No, I think I agree. In our family, we haven’t been the best communicators or the best sharers of feelings. He wasn’t as emotional as other people are, so I think that also reflects some sense of privacy too.

Young

Yes, that’s very strong and we respect that always, in the oral history. We’re trying to avoid discussions that are invasive and that you’d like to keep private.

K. Kennedy

I’m just saying that’s the way he was as a person.

E. Kennedy

Yes.

Young

But still–

K. Kennedy

No, but I think it’s a character trait, right?

E. Kennedy

Yes, I agree.

K. Kennedy

Kind of private even with his own feelings.

E. Kennedy

With his feelings. I do think that as he got older, he was much more revealing and emotional with us. He had so many powerful feelings, and one of the things is that he–Because everyone in our family was relying on him to be the strong guy, I think he really felt like he had to be stoic. Even though he was an emotional man, I think he felt like he had to be there for us, and part of that translated into–But I do agree with Kara. Perhaps it was his Irish Catholic upbringing that made it difficult for him to easily talk about intimate feelings. We talked a lot around the dinner table, but that wasn’t part of it. I don’t know. Patrick, do you have any thoughts about that?

P. Kennedy

No.

E. Kennedy

As I said, he was a multifaceted guy who was very protective of his family’s privacy. I think that that was part of it.

Young

That said, what do you have to teach, from your own experience, people who will never have a chance to know the kind of person you saw, unless, with some exceptions, through letters, anything in his diaries, there might be about this? But from my point of view, primarily through the oral history. I’ll bring up one little point. You mentioned the importance your father attached to the oral history. That was very evident to me, and his commitment to it was unique in my experience. I’ve been doing Presidential oral history since 1978. This was truly extraordinary. I noticed, during the courseI had four years of interviews with him, the last one in early 2008, and they were substantial sessions, two and a half hours, sometimes two days in a row, sometimes on the Cape, maybe with a sail in between, some luncheon or some dinner discussion the night before.

Over the course of these years, after the necessary trust develops, which is always essential for oral history, I could see how he came to be more expressive and more reflective, rather than simply recounting important things he had done and important experiences he had had, and going into great detail, sometimes, about the issues that were most important to him and the battles he had fought. So I’m saying this to indicate to you that I’m hoping you will, in the same spirit, be expressive, as well as instructive, about your relationship with your father.

Before you came in, Patrick, I recalled that your father talked a lot, in the oral history, about his upbringing, as Teddy recounted, but very little, I don’t think, out of a protective sense, about you. He was very protective, and I think he maybe wanted that left up to you and left up to the others, the later generations of the family, what to talk about. He did, from the very beginning, want his family members to be included in the oral history. I asked for his suggestions and he gave me a list, and boiling down the list of some 350 people to a doable size was something. But you were always on the list here, and I think that’s the reason for it. So, did he talk to you much about his own childhood, schooling, experience of growing up?

P. Kennedy

I would say, overall, the thing that I think is most historic about my father is just his person. He accomplished a lot of things that made him a historic person, through the legislation that he accomplished and what parts of history he was participant of, too. But I think that his funeral and remembrances and the reflections upon his life made very clear his unique place in history, and that was the archetypal American character that overcomes the most impossible obstacles and still perseveres and ultimately triumphs. The American spirit of overcoming the impossible.

What even his greatest detractors and everybody remarked about was the amazing human will to survive and to carry on, which was beyond anybody’s ability–even his worst detractors–to identify and even relate to, because no one could even hold a candle to that in terms of just the sheer magnitude of what he had witnessed in his life, what he had been through personally, and his battles, both personal and political, and his constant moving forward, so to speak. That was captured in Jamie Wyeth’s To Sail Against the Wind in ‘80, but that was his life.

And the biggest, the amazing measure of the man, is that he did in the course of a full life what someone could do only if they never gave up. It’s the totality of his whole life’s work that is so remarkable. In a society that is so consumed with immediate success and with the quick fix and everything, he was a lesson in the long haul, if you will, and the ultimate success of perseverance and sticking to something for a lifetime. I think that was the ultimate message of his life that was universal, beyond all the amazing individual victories he had legislatively, that makes him someone to study.

Young

Did you feel that this was an almost impossible standard for lesser individuals to make?

P. Kennedy

No. He actually made it very–He was a real person. We were so fortunate to have him. We had a father, so we were very fortunate. I would say that he had a very strong sense of his own obligation to carry out this historic legacy and mandate of his generation. I think the reason he didn’t dwell on us in the historic framework is that he was ambivalent about–If it were some other situation–whether he would have felt as obligated to push as hard as he did in his own life, but I think he did it out of a sense of obligation. Even though I went into politics myself, I think he was very much sending me the message that there was no obligation to go into politics, for my generation to “carry on the torch,” to do anything of that sort. I think if he was coming from my generation, he would not have felt the same obligation. I mean, he would have cared about being in community service, public service, but not had that sheer sense of will to try to make everything all right, so to speak.

That sense that he had to carry it, to keep it all together, was uniquely what he felt because of the situation he was in, as the last remaining surviving brother who had to carry the load and keep it all together for not only his generation but for ours at that time. I don’t think if it were a different time, he would have been–He was one of those guys who would have spent his life nose to the grindstone just for the sake of going nose to the grindstone. He felt a sense of obligation to his family to do that.

Young

You went into politics and you’ve made a career of it, and of service. You considered, did you not, Teddy, going into politics? Maybe he advised you to run for the seat in Massachusetts?

K. Kennedy

No, now he’s thinking of going into politics.

Young

Well, I’ve done a little bit of study.

E. Kennedy

I think a lot of people in my generation of Kennedys have thought about going into politics, and some have. And that’s a question that I haven’t answered yet. I do have mixed feelings about it. On one hand, I see how much satisfaction there is. Patrick portrayed it as a sense of obligation, which I agree with. But I do think Dad got a tremendous amount of satisfaction from his job, I really do. So I see that, but I also see the tremendous sacrifice that you need to make to be in public life today.

Young

What kind of sacrifices?

E. Kennedy

Sacrifice in terms of your privacy, in terms of your time, a tremendous amount of time commitment. And it’s not just you, it’s your family, essentially what you’re putting your family through, the intense scrutiny. So I think it’s a big sacrifice to make. My father actually encouraged me to think about it seriously. He thought I would be good at it, and I think he knew that I have some interest in it.

Young

And some talent.

E. Kennedy

But he never sat down and pushed me in it, but I could tell that he thought that it would suit me well. And that may still happen, but who knows?

Young

Yes.

E. Kennedy

I think in some ways, if I do end up going into politics, it will be because it’s something that I want to do, and not necessarily that I’m trying to live up to my father’s expectations. Do you see what I’m saying?

So yes, that’s what I would have to say about that. I think, again, that my father was a very private man. We know that around his dinner–We spent most of our time, our really personal time, on family vacations or around our dinner table. Each of us probably has two or three close friends, close enough that to have them at the table, he could just be himself. Because, at least personally, I felt like his private time was scarce in many ways. I really wanted him to be able to relax completely, and be able to not have to worry that whatever he said might get repeated.

Young

Yes.

E. Kennedy

I think we were very mindful of those times. For example, he didn’t like cameras in our house. He hated video. We don’t have video cameras. Most families have video recordings of their grandparents and their grandchildren and all that, but I didn’t even take my own home movies of my father and my children, because I think that was just too much of an imposition on him. I’m just giving you a reflection of how I didn’t want to impose. I wanted him to have a free flow of whatever he wanted to say or do, without worrying about some photograph, even taken by one of my friends or having the film end up somewhere.

K. Kennedy

I was going to say something about time. He made the most of the time he had with us. Every morning at breakfast, he was up early, he was with us, and also at dinner. I agree with you, Teddy, fun and inclusive of our friends too.

I got the nicest letters from a bunch of my friends from high school, one of whom he always used to call “Army”–Her name was Amy–and an old boyfriend of mine, Michael Richardson, talking about how he made them feel so at ease with his humor. I think his humor was a big part of him. He loved to have a good time, examples being everything from playing football, getting a football game going out in McLean; to skiing, taking everybody skiing with the family; and vacations. We used to have costume parties. His birthday and my birthday are five days apart, so we used to throw joint costume parties with his friends and my friends.

E. Kennedy

And he loved that. He loved having the young people in with his–I mean, when we raced in the Figawi race, from Hyannis to Nantucket every year, he would call me up and say, “Teddy, get your friends.” He didn’t invite his friends. There were a thousand people who would have immediately dropped everything and flown to Cape Cod to go sailing with this guy, but he–Do you see what I’m saying? He had a few close friends who would come, but the point is, he loved to hang out with our friends.

K. Kennedy

Our friends.

E. Kennedy

And go on trips. We would sail to Maine. One year I had a boat, a yawl, and he had his schooner, the Mya, and we were both planning on going to Maine. His engine broke about two days before he was planning on going, so all of a sudden he didn’t have a boat. So he then said to me, “Hey, Teddy, would you mind if I came with you on your boat?” And of course I was delighted. We ended up spending a week in Maine. He was happy. He was spending the night on the deck of the boat. He’d go down and make the chowder and do the–He grew up in this privileged background–He had a cook and somebody to mow his lawn and all that–but he really wasn’t above doing a lot of work.

K. Kennedy

He loved that.

E. Kennedy

And he raised us to really appreciate–I think he really taught us that yes, we were very lucky, we can go to good schools and have things, but I think that’s an important aspect, actually, to talk about with Dad.

K. Kennedy

We still joke about having family time and private time, because family time was all the time, and maybe from 4:00 to 4:30 in the afternoon, you got your own private time to do what you wanted. Otherwise, we were out playing football or sailing.

Young

Was this on a frequent basis?

E. Kennedy

All the time.

Young

All the time.

E. Kennedy

He would be up at 6:30 in the morning on his days off or on his vacations.

K. Kennedy

And I think we replicate it with our kids.

E. Kennedy

Yes, definitely.

K. Kennedy

Because I’m constantly trying–

E. Kennedy

Oh, yes, my wife thinks I don’t know how to relax. In a way, my father really did not–

K. Kennedy

No, he never relaxed.

E. Kennedy

He didn’t really know how to relax.

K. Kennedy

And I’m the same way. I like to keep moving.

E. Kennedy

He loved to just keep going with his activities.

K. Kennedy

Activity, fun, laughter.

E. Kennedy

And you’d go for your sail, then you’d come back, and then you have a half hour of your own free time.

K. Kennedy

To take a shower.

E. Kennedy

And then you had to get back together again for some other family activity.

Young

So this was scheduled, so to–

K. Kennedy

Well, not so much, but we joke about it–somewhat, I guess somewhat–a little bit. [laughs]

E. Kennedy

Patrick, what would you say about it?

Young

Was this from the time you were very young kids?

P. Kennedy

Since I can remember.

E. Kennedy

Yes.

Young

Or did it start–

E. Kennedy

I would say yes.

Young

You didn’t have to be approaching adulthood. So he played games with you?

K. Kennedy

Remember ice skating on the canal alongside the Potomac River?

E. Kennedy

Yes, I remember ice skating.

K. Kennedy

And we’d make hot chocolate. He’d bring the Robert Kennedys and we’d all have football games at McLean, with all our friends coming over.

Young

This was even before high school?

K. Kennedy

Yes, but I remember more of that time.

E. Kennedy

But I think what Kara was saying a minute ago, about coming down and having breakfast every morning with us–

K. Kennedy

Remember that?

E. Kennedy

Yes. He would have breakfast every morning with us.

K. Kennedy

Every morning.

E. Kennedy

And then most nights–with the Senate and the votes and all that, it was a little–But I do remember he would come home and we would sit down and have dinner together.

K. Kennedy

And chocolate cake.

E. Kennedy

I really do feel like he made a huge effort, given all of his time commitments that he had.

P. Kennedy

I think, going back to the historical aspect of who he was and what is of interest to people who might study him, is this conflict in his life between this idea of who he was supposed to be, which he got from his father, and the sense of mission he came from, and who he was. And I think who he was, was just an amazing, authentic person who loved a good time, loved people, was very gregarious and social, and yet, in a way, felt encumbered by that because of the sense of I have to be something else and be serious-minded if I’m to be successful, taken seriously, and the like. I mean, I think Dad had a real sense of–I think he almost felt guilty when he was having too much fun or too much frivolity. It was ironic, because I think his real strength as a person, his success here on the Hill, was the fact that he could bring any one of his colleagues into that sense of joy that he had in his life. That is really unique. I don’t see many people who have that characteristic, of being able to bring people into their lives, and a sense of playfulness, practical jokes, the kind of warmth and living life in the way he did so well.

Young

He loved politics, didn’t he? It was in his blood.

P. Kennedy

He loved people. He loved the game. He loved the game of life, and politics is all about that. It’s about people, it’s about working with people, and so that’s what I think about him. Yet I think that he had this sense of duty that he had to keep it, like this sense of moving it along, so to speak, moving it forward and all the rest. I think he had this sense. I feel that if he could have let his hair down more, he would have this sense of even greater joy.

K. Kennedy

He had four really good friends, and they were there all the time. They were on boat trips, at the dinner table, watching football games. And I think what’s great, at least in my growing up, is the fact that friends are important. He passed down, or you could see from him, how important friends were and how important family was. One of my blessings is to be able to have so many friends, and introduce friends of friends. I was lucky to be close in age to Teddy, so all his friends are my friends and vice versa, and we’re just lucky. You’re really lucky when you’ve got good friends and good family, close family.

Young

You read so much of people in public life who are really highly motivated or even driven, who put their all into their work, and it becomes very time consuming. In many of the Presidential oral history projects, we’ve talked with high-level staffers in the White House and we’ve talked to other people on the Hill. “Burnout,” as it’s usually referred to. There’s no time or energy, or not sufficient time or energy, left after work for their families and their children. What I’m hearing from you, I think, is that he made time available and it was on a frequent basis, and he did not let his job interfere too much with his family life.

Now, there may have been times when you felt that that was not the case; I wish Dad were here, or I wish we could do this and we had to do something else. What I’m trying to get is a clear picture, from your perspective, of how he managed what you call the competing demands on his own life, and how he put them together, the fun he got out of politics, the deeper satisfaction he got out of public service, his love for performance and jokes and having games and fun with other people. Is that what you were trying to get at, that he–

P. Kennedy

I think his greatest strength–and his success legislatively–was his ability to befriend and bring people in. It was a natural ability of his, to share his joy, his love, for him to connect with people. He was a people person. That’s what I’m saying, and that’s what he was so good at, that connecting. Even though this is a business that depends on people skills, really, remarkably, people couldn’t hold a candle to his ability to have people skills. I mean, he was the best of the best. And that’s what made him the finest legislator this place has seen in a long time, this ability to cross the aisle, no matter who it was, and connect with people. He was doing songs with Orrin Hatch; he was able to reach out. He could connect with anybody; it didn’t matter what walk of life they came from.

Burns

Well, it sounds to me a little like maybe that was some of his success, that he wasn’t one person here and then went home and became another, or unloaded on his family. It sounds like he was the same person at work and at home.

K. Kennedy

I think that was a trait of his.

Burns

It makes it all seamless.

K. Kennedy

He worked well in every kind of situation.

Burns

And it makes you have the same experience.

P. Kennedy

He is a very worthy political figure to study in his own right because of an immense personal persona in this day and age. He would have been a total–even bigger–power broker back in the day without TV and media and all the rest. Back then, it would have relied totally on personality and ability to work behind the scenes. If it had just been that, Dad would have totally run the world, because he had it all going on. It was almost his biggest battle, fighting modern day, having to do the 30-second sound bite, having to do the modern media, having to contend with all the things that his brothers probably very–actually, his brother Jack [Kennedy] did beautifully. He was in a different mold, the strength in a different way. Many people compare him to his grandfather, Honey Fitz [John F. Fitzgerald], in that respect.

Young

Did he talk about his times with his grandpa?

E. Kennedy

Oh, yes.

Young

What did you learn from that?

E. Kennedy

Just to touch on what Patrick talked about, I think people also picked up on that. Here he was, he came from this wealthy family, and he could walk down in the middle of Fenway Park, or he could walk into a union hall or whatever, and he had the ability to hit it off personally with people, because of that–Isn’t that what you’re saying?

P. Kennedy

Exactly. He had this ability, and you can’t really–

E. Kennedy

Yes.

P. Kennedy

You can’t study it and imitate it. It’s either you’ve got it or you don’t.

Young

Kara?

K. Kennedy

No, that’s true, it’s natural.

P. Kennedy

He’s a natural.

K. Kennedy

He’s a natural and he’s at ease, pretty much, with everybody, and knows how to make other people at ease too, through a lot of his humor and because he cared. That was his personality.

E. Kennedy

I think when we were little–when he first became a Senator, in the early 1960s until about 1970–I do get the sense that he was away a lot, and that he was going to Geneva all the time. I think he was very busy. My sense, the way I remember it, is until 1970, he was pretty–I think he was busier and had less time for us than he did in his later years, just because he was consumed, obviously, in the late 1960s and all that was going on. I do remember that he did make a lot of time for us. We played chess all the time before dinner, but not normal chess. Chess where you couldn’t think too long before you made a move, because each game could only last less than a half an hour, because that’s all the time we had. So that’s the kind of–And he used to play cards with you, Patrick, all the time.

P. Kennedy

All the time.

E. Kennedy

So our little thing was to play a game of chess before dinner. But again, we knew that dinner–You couldn’t think too long, you had to make a move. That’s an example of the kind of–He liked to play the game, but you had to keep the game moving.

Young

OK.

K. Kennedy

I think you’re probably right on the timing. Well, also, as a child, you don’t remember as many things as you do as you grow older. I remember the '60s. I remember being sent to a friend’s house for periods of time, during the difficult times, and living in probably Mom’s house. I remember that very distinctly.

Young

Let’s see, you were born in 1960?

K. Kennedy

Yes.

Young

Even then, he was so involved.

K. Kennedy

He did travel a lot, but one of the things, we–

E. Kennedy

He took us on a lot of trips.

K. Kennedy

We went everywhere.

E. Kennedy

When you say–I didn’t want to interrupt you, Kara.

K. Kennedy

No, but I think that’s where I got my interest in international relations. That’s what my major was in college.

Young

The trips?

K. Kennedy

Learning about other cultures and having had the opportunity to go to all these countries. We went from China to South Africa to Iraq and Iran.

Young

Yes. You were all on the China trip, weren’t you?

E. Kennedy

Yes, and I think–

Young

And so were a lot of others.

E. Kennedy

The interesting thing was that he would have briefings at his home after dinner or on the weekends, and he would invite us. We were pretty young. Don’t you remember?

K. Kennedy

I was about 17. I remember because I was struggling to write and to get out my college applications before we left.

E. Kennedy

Yes, 14, 15. He would invite us just to sit and listen. I think part of it was that he wanted us to understand what–He would have Henry Kissinger over, and all these people to come over to the house to brief him on a particular issue, and he would say, “Come on in and sit down.” We obviously wouldn’t participate in the discussion, but he felt like it was important. I think he wanted two things: One, he wanted us to get an education, and two, I think he wanted us to learn about what his life was like.

Young

I was going to ask, did he talk much about his day or his life, or did he just bring you into it in these moments?

E. Kennedy

We heard him on the phone. He would have an idea in the middle of dinner and say, “I’m going to call him right now.” He’d get up and call that person. He would do that. I found, in the last few years, I would actually bring a pen and a note card with me to the dinner table, because he would have so many good ideas about you should be talking to this person about that, and you should do this. I would forget all the different things. I think he gave great advice, because he would have–He was just a fountain of ideas and how things were connected and the people and interests.

K. Kennedy

I recall that you were in student government, right?

E. Kennedy

Yes.

K. Kennedy

As was my best friend, Bolla [Linda Semans], of 30 or 40 years, so she was like an adopted daughter. But he would give you two points of view, and ask which way are you going to argue?

E. Kennedy

Oh, yes, in government club.

K. Kennedy

In government club. You should talk about that and which side, and these are the points for and these are against, and how are you going to–

E. Kennedy

And then he would argue with you at the dinner table.

K. Kennedy

That’s what I remember you doing.

Young

So he was not lecturing you.

K. Kennedy

No.

Young

He was playing into the process.

E. Kennedy

Yes.

K. Kennedy

I remember him giving you arguments for and against each point of view on issues, like this is for gun control, this is against gun control.

Young

Can you talk about some examples or do you have any stories about how he would do this?

E. Kennedy

Well, as Kara was saying, in the debate club at St. Albans School, he would help me hone my debate. He would be able to take whatever side of the issue and be able to very convincingly argue, be the consummate devil’s advocate.

Young

Yes.

E. Kennedy

And that was an educational tool, obviously, that he used. When he would come home–I remember when I was in fourth, fifth, sixth grades, I used to have to memorize a lot of poems. He would have to get in his bathtub when he first got home, because his back would really bother him in those days. He would get home, run his tub, and he would get in the bathtub. We spent a lot of time together when he was changing and stuff, like when he was getting dressed in the morning. I would sit there when he would shave, and I’d sit in the bathroom with him.

K. Kennedy

I would be in there too.

E. Kennedy

You know, part of it was he literally had a half an hour to shower and shave, and if that was the only half hour that he had, he would rather you sit there in the bathroom with him, and he’d talk to you and then he would sit in his tub and he’d soak his back. But he’d be sitting there in his tub and he’d want company in the bathroom. So I would come in there and he would work on my poetry or my vocabulary or whatever it is I had to talk to him about.

Young

I see.

E. Kennedy

I think lying in the tub, in a hot tub, which most people would find very relaxing to be in the bathroom by themselves, just lying in a hot tub. I don’t think he–

K. Kennedy

He needed to have company.

E. Kennedy

He wanted the back relaxation part, but he wanted the constant activity.

Young

Not the inactivity.

E. Kennedy

He wanted the relaxation of a hot bath but he didn’t like the inactivity. He would watch the news, too, when he would come home. I remember growing up and watching the Vietnam War in his–When he’d come home. Of course that was on the TV every night, and he’d talk to me about what was going on.

But when you ask the question, “Did he really bring the work home with him?”–

Young

He brought the bag.

E. Kennedy

I don’t think he brought the stress of his work home. Patrick and Kara, you can disagree with me if you want, but I don’t get the sense that he brought the stress with him or his tribulations of his day or the battles that he fought. In fact, I mentioned this in my remembrance at the church, that he used to have–I remember Lowell Weicker would come over, and Alan Simpson. I remember growing up, a lot more of his colleagues would actually come over for dinner or to play tennis or go for a swim. Do you remember that?

P. Kennedy

I think that was one of his real great techniques, if you will, in addition to building his friends. It was transparent. His social life was political because the tennis thing was literally–no pun intended–a master stroke politically, because he would do that tennis every morning, and he would rotate people in and out of his doubles. It would be the prize thing in this town as to who made it on his tennis team, and would get an in and out. He would work the Senate and whoever he had for people, the House members.

E. Kennedy

Literally, Donald Rumsfeld was a frequent tennis partner–

P. Kennedy

Influential people in this town.

E. Kennedy

–when he was in Congress. Do you remember that? He would come over and play tennis.

K. Kennedy

I remember more of Lee Fentress.

E. Kennedy

You remember more of Lee Fentress and John Douglas. Lee and John Douglas would come over.

K. Kennedy

I was just going to say John Douglas.

Young

John Tunney?

E. Kennedy

John Tunney, yes. But the point is that I think Patrick was right. He would have–But we’d have dinner. It wasn’t like, “OK kids, you eat at 6:30 and my friends are coming over later.” He mixed it all together.

Young

I see. Did he help you with your homework, or did you consult him?

K. Kennedy

I don’t recall so as much as he did with Teddy. Teddy had, as he said, a lot of memorization, Casey at the Bat being one of the longest poems in fourth grade. I remember–and Teddy’s probably better at telling these storiesTeddy having to write a huge paper on Edgar Allan Poe, and Dad saying, “You have to go to the Redskins game.” It was a Monday night game, and you were all concerned about getting it written. You tell that story.

E. Kennedy

I don’t know whether that’s appropriate for the oral history project.

K. Kennedy

Oh, I think it’s fine.

Young

You can take it out if you don’t think it is.

K. Kennedy

Just beforehand, though. In terms of famous people or interesting people coming over, you also have to tell the Henry Kissinger story.

E. Kennedy

I’m not going to tell that story.

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K. Kennedy

Then there were his holidays, not only birthday parties, which were always costume, but even the ones at Christmastime here, in the Senate, where he would get dressed up as some kind of character and create and perform a whole skit. That’s another example. So I think he had a lot of good times.

E. Kennedy

He was very adventuresome. I remember he had a boat–We’d go down to the Bahamas on the boat–the Curraugh. I think one of the reasons why he really liked to go out on this boat is that–getting back to what I was talking to before–since he was such a recognizable guy, he couldn’t vacation in the normal places, because he always felt like people were watching him. How could he ever relax? So one of the things he loved about going on his boat is that he could just completely let loose and invite only the people who he wanted to invite.

I remember we went to Thunderball Cave, which is right outside Staniel Cay, in the Exumas. Patrick and Kara, do you remember?

P. Kennedy

You had to go underneath.

E. Kennedy

You have to hold your breath, and you have to go underneath thisand then you come up inside this magnificent cave.

Young

You have to go underwater?

E. Kennedy

You have to go underwater. But, you see, there was always an element of–It couldn’t just be you’d go for a swim–

K. Kennedy

–or a snorkel.

E. Kennedy

Or a snorkel, no. It had to be–You have to hold your breath and whatever you do, just swim like crazy, because if you don’t keep swimming, you’re going to run out of oxygen. And you can’t turn around and swim; you’ve got to just keep swimming. In a way, I think that was his thing.

Young

Wasn’t this terrifying?

E. Kennedy

It was terrifying, but it was exciting. And we were all so excited to be with our father. In our sailing trips, there were the groundings and having to get off the coral. There was always something exciting about what we were doing. Don’t you agree with that? We just couldn’t be like–

K. Kennedy

With Neil Diamond playing on the eight-track tape.

Young

What was that again?

K. Kennedy

Neil Diamond tapes playing, that’s what I remember.

E. Kennedy

He loved Neil Diamond.

E. Kennedy

I think that there was always this element of–

Young

Challenge.

E. Kennedy

Challenge, exactly. We just couldn’t go for a normal snorkel or a normal swim or anything like that. Or even maybe rent a cottage by the ocean and go down and sit on the beach. You know he never–He had this beautiful beach on Cape Cod.

K. Kennedy

I don’t think we ever sat on the beach.

Edward

We never once, not once, went down and actually sat on the beach like most people who have their own beach would probably do.

K. Kennedy

We’d have to be out on the water, still, to do this.

E. Kennedy

Do you see what I’m saying?

Young

Yes.

E. Kennedy

And that’s the kind of thing, he was always–But it was always so exciting being with him.

K. Kennedy

Well, I’ll just talk a little bit about the ski races. We used to go out to Sun Valley–and to Aspen as well, but I specifically remember Sun Valley–and we’d have ski races. I remember it, probably, because I was the slowest amongst all the cousins and I’d always be the last one picked. And they finally started putting the fastest skier with the slowest, and trying to make it so it was equal. I was terrified of having to do that, but you did it. That was what you did, because everybody else was doing it.

Our cousins used to have birthday parties–Well, my cousin Kerry [Kennedy], specifically, used to have birthday parties, which I was scared to death about having to go over, because she used to jump off roofs and go through obstacle courses and what have you. But that was part of the deal growing up, being challenged.

E. Kennedy

I remember once, when Kara was telling this story about I had this paper to write. It was an essay on Edgar Allan Poe’s The Pit and the Pendulum. I think I was in the fourth or fifth grade. It also happened that there was a Redskins game going on at RFK [Robert F. Kennedy] Stadium here in Washington, D.C. Ethel [Kennedy Skakel] would rent a Winnebago and we’d all go in that. My father came into the room when it was time to go and he said, “We’re all ready to go.” I said, “Dad, I can’t go. I’ve got to write this essay and I haven’t started it and it’s due tomorrow morning.” Dad said, “No problem. We’re going to go to the game and we’re going to come back and you’ll get back in plenty of time and I’ll help you write it.”

Well, of course, we get stuck in the traffic getting out of the stadium, and I get home and it’s now about 9:30 at night, and I am just crying, and I’m [whining] like, “I can’t believe I’ve got this report due–” And Dad says, “No problem here. I am going to help you write this essay.” So he gets my book and he’s reading through it and he says, “Oh, yes, I remember this story. I read it when I was in school.” And I’m going, “I’m never going to be able–” And he goes, “OK, I know I shouldn’t be doing this, but I am going to help you write this paper right now, because we’re in a crisis situation.” So he helped me write the paper and I turn the paper in, and I get the paper back at the end of the week, and I get D-minus on the paper. [laughter]

K. Kennedy

And why?

E. Kennedy

He had The Hound of the Baskervilles and The Pit and the Pendulum and every Edgar Allan Poe story all confused, and the different characters from every story.

K. Kennedy

He got the wrong story.

E. Kennedy

And the teacher said, “It appears from this report that you didn’t even read the story.” I remember that was one of the comments.

Young

And of course you gave the paper to him.

E. Kennedy

Oh, yes. Oh, my father just loved this. The reason why I don’t mind telling this story is that he just loved telling this story, of howIf he had to write a paper for the fifth grade, it would be a hard assignment for him to do. But I think he always felt like–He always was very reassuring.

Young

It’s going to turn out all right.

E. Kennedy

If there was a problem, it’s going to be OK. Don’t you think?

K. Kennedy

I don’t recall him helping me as much, because I didn’t need it.

E. Kennedy

Because maybe you didn’t need the help.

K. Kennedy

I remember all these stories of you.

Young

Was it different for you, Patrick? You were much younger. Was it different or was it much the same but different occasions, different ways of doing it?

P. Kennedy

No, he was, as I said in my remembrance, he was always very helpful with my asthma. Whenever we’d go on these trips, I’d have to carry my Maximist machine, and it was always heavier than I was, so he’d end up having to carry it, of course with his bad back.

E. Kennedy

And it needed to be plugged in, with a three-pronged plug.

P. Kennedy

He made sure he reminded me he was carrying the big heavy machine through the airport.

K. Kennedy

And he’d be so thankful, I think, that he had to, because then he wouldn’t have to camp out with us. He could spend the night in a hotel with Patrick, because Patrick couldn’t be out, in case he had an asthma attack.

Young

So these were on your camping trips–?

E. Kennedy

Yes.

K. Kennedy

Those were really fun. I had a great time.

Young

–out in western Massachusetts?

E. Kennedy

Yes. Those were a lot of fun.

K. Kennedy

Those were so memorable, because he’d take us in these Winnebagos, and a bunch of cousins again. He’d make it not only fun–cooking breakfast at the campsite in the morning and stuff–but he’d make it historical too. So we couldn’t have fun until we went to [Herman] Melville’s house or certain museums or the Crane paper factory. Do you remember that? That was in the morning, then you could get to the lake and go swimming or swinging off vines in the tree or rope swings. That’s a fond memory, and skiing. We used to go skiing out in the Berkshires.

Young

So, you did a lot of this with your cousins also, going out?

E. Kennedy

We did, yes.

Young

Do you want to talk a little bit? Maybe there’s more to be said about the trips to other countries that you went on with him. What for? There was Poland.

E. Kennedy

Those were not so much, I don’t think, personal trips as they were–

K. Kennedy

Working trips.

E. Kennedy

You know, like political trips. I mean, they were very interesting and we got to meet some incredible historical figures, but it was more accompanying him on a CODEL [Congressional Delegation trip] type of thing, as opposed to a family trip. I don’t know.

K. Kennedy

It wasn’t personal. But you pick things up, such as when we were in the Kremlin, somebody found a bug (listening device/secret microphone) in a chair. Those kind of little things. I ended up getting a tattoo in Hong Kong, little things like that. I remember the tea ceremonies in Japan.

E. Kennedy

Do you remember when the person spilled the tea?

Young

Who spilled the tea?

K. Kennedy

Committing hari-kari.

E. Kennedy

Were you there, Patrick? Were you on this trip? Well, this is not really for the oral history project, but the number-one tea person in Japan came in and performed the tea ceremony. To make a very long story short, you have to turn the cup three times and you have wrap the thing and everyone has to sit there. And the number-one tea person in the whole country came in and, right at the final moment, spilled the tea. I knew it was bad because I got the sense from the other Japanese people in the room.

K. Kennedy

This is a very important tea ceremony.

E. Kennedy

Oh, it’s a big thing. Oh, yes. So I don’t know. There are so many different stories. But my dad really liked telling stories. He would then recount the story, not to humiliate the tea person, but he just–I think he loved the crazy situations that he would find himself in as a result of being in politics. He would say, “I was at an event the other night–” He wouldn’t necessarily recount the legislative battles that he would have with Bob Dole, on some procedural point. He would tell stories about how he was about to give the speech and how he would open up the thing and it would be the speech that he had to give at 4:00, and he would be in front of the 1:00 audience, and he’d look down and he’d say–So he was always talking, don’t you think, about the–

P. Kennedy

He had a great sense of awe at the whole thing, that life was just an experience of–

E. Kennedy

You can’t believe the different situations that he would find himself in.

P. Kennedy

He loved to laugh at life.

K. Kennedy

Yes.

E. Kennedy

He loved to laugh at life, and he’d say, “You’re not going to believe what happened to me.” And of course, so many things happened to him all day long, right? He could tell us about all the things, about how he called somebody the wrong name by accident.

K. Kennedy

He called Yo-Yo Ma, “Ma-Ma Yo.”

E. Kennedy

Or all the embarrassing things that most people wouldn’t want to talk about, he really would be less embarrassed if he actually talked about the embarrassing things that happened to him. But he loved to tell the circumstances about what happened to him during the day.

P. Kennedy

We had a great story. My father took me up to Alaska to go camping and fishing. We went to a National Park, Walrus Islands. I found this tusk in the water–And we had scrimshaw all over the house when I was growing up, from the old whaling days, and it was all carved up. So when I saw this tusk in the water, I thought for sure I had found this treasure piece, because I’d seen it all hung up in our house. I thought, Geez, this must be something that’s really valuable. Look at it, I found it. So I said to my dad, “Hey, Dad, look what I found.” I’m about 14 at the time.

The park service ranger was with us, showing us around, and the park service ranger, without blinking, said, “Throw that back.” I was just stunned; I didn’t know what to do. And then Dad looked at him and looked at me, and Dad could see how upset I was, and he said to the park service ranger, “What’s going on? What’s the reason for that?” The park service ranger said, “This is federal property.” So my father said, “Well, we can work something out. Can’t we work something out?” And the park service ranger said, “No, that’s federal–”

Then Dad started using his law of the sea and he said, “Well, that’s below the water line, that’s below the high tide line. He picked that up from underneath the water, so now that’s no longer any property other than the sea’s, so he has full right to that.” The park service ranger wasn’t having any of that. So then my dad says, “What’s this over here? These walruses, do they mate over here?” because there clearly was a huge group of walruses ahead. The park ranger said, Yes, over here they do this and that. And Dad looked back at me and didn’t even have to say anything. I knew just what I was going to do; I was going to put the walrus tusk in my jacket and that was going to be the end of it.

So we went on with the tour, and by the end of the day we were finally going back to our group and then to the airport. We were going through Anchorage Airport. Well, the park service guy figured outHe never saw me throw it back, so he called the environmental police at the Anchorage Airport, and they, of course, apprehended us. It was a slow news day, so it was on the front page of the Anchorage paper. Then it got picked up on the wires and was all over the country, that we were absconding with federal property.

My dad, just the beauty of his ingenuity in a political situation like this, immediately called a press conference and had all the native Eskimo tribes come out. They have total sovereignty over their land, so anything on their land is theirs. So they presented a walrus–They could present anything of the walrus they wanted to us, because tusks and everything else belonged to them if it were on their land. So they had the presentation ceremony to us. In any event, it was–

E. Kennedy

Well, tell him what they presented.

K. Kennedy

What did the bone actually turn out to be, the tusk?

P. Kennedy

They gave us a different part of the walrus.

Young

Which part?

P. Kennedy

It’s called an oosik. It’s used during the mating season.

Young

Yes, I see. And this was on camera and everything?

P. Kennedy

Yes.

Young

In Washington?

P. Kennedy

In Alaska. This is Alaska.

Young

And did your father appreciate the irony of that?

P. Kennedy

Oh, yes. Because what happened was, Dad had written my uncle. My Uncle Bobby did the report on the plight of Native American education, and my dad was the chair of the committee after my Uncle Bobby was killed. My dad wrote the whole legislation and ended up passing it. So he became a hero and he was able to–They just loved him for that, and so he was able to turn the thing right around and get them to show up and help him out. It was a great story. We had a lot of similar experiences going around.

E. Kennedy

So my father would say, “Here I am,” wanting to go on a trip with father and son, go on a trip to Alaska, and it turns out to be a gigantic media fiasco. He would think that that was hilarious, because what other–

P. Kennedy

He’d have that, “I can’t believe.”

E. Kennedy

“I can’t believe.” I decided to go and he thought it would be one thing and it turns out to be a whole different other thing.

K. Kennedy

But he was recognized. When we went to China, even in the smallest villages, people knew who he was. I remember anywhere we went, any country, any place. I was amazed that people knew who he was everywhere we went.

Young

Well, these trips, you were saying–

E. Kennedy

What else do we have to cover, because Patrick, you have to leave at a certain time. You should ask Patrick some more questions, because he may have to go. What else do we need to talk about?

Young

I’ve just been so absorbed in the listening that all the questions have left my mind.

E. Kennedy

Oh, come on. Bonnie, do you have any questions? There are so many stories that it’s hard to even know where to begin.

K. Kennedy

With Robin Williams, how about that story?

Young

There’s an endless fund.

K. Kennedy

Endless.

Young

Of the situations you–

E. Kennedy

So it’s hard to–

Young

–recall. Did you go on the campaign trail with him? Is there anything significant to say there? I remember you mentioned having to give some speeches.

K. Kennedy

Well, in 1980, I was just–

Young

That was in 1980.

K. Kennedy

I wish I spoke again like I did in 1980, or could speak.

E. Kennedy

We would separate because–

Young

You have other family members with you.

K. Kennedy

All of us, across the country.

E. Kennedy

We wouldn’t really campaign together, maybe on a rare occasion, but the thought was we would scatter. We’d send Patrick to Iowa and I’d go to New Hampshire; Kara would go to California.

Young

In all of his campaigns, family was involved?

E. Kennedy

Oh, yes.

K. Kennedy

What we did was like going out to western Massachusetts; that was campaigning with fun. It would be that kind of thing.

E. Kennedy

Yes, we would–Some events we would do together, but a lot of events, we were just–or we would be the surrogate. Dad would be invited to the Teamsters breakfast in Worcester and he couldn’t go–

K. Kennedy

Or we’d be the manager.

E. Kennedy

–and then we would go in his stead. Do you know what I’m saying?

Young

You managed one of his Senate campaigns?

E. Kennedy

Yes, Kara and I worked together in 1988.

Young

Was that a chore?

E. Kennedy

That was fun.

Young

Why was it?

E. Kennedy

He taught us that despite the negative press and all of the criticism that you took, that actually politics could be fun, and the people who you meet are–

K. Kennedy

We’d meet with the pollsters and the strategists.

E. Kennedy

Wherever you travel, you meet interesting people. I think that’s what he really liked.

K. Kennedy

We’d spend the night, during the 1980 campaign, in people’s houses, or live there for weeks.

Young

What was your job when you were managing a campaign?

E. Kennedy

Well, he was running against this fellow Joe Malone, who ended up becoming the state treasurer, and who was the nicest guy you could possibly run against, because he didn’t really come out attacking my father. I think he was looking at it to try to gain some exposure, and then he ended up becoming the state treasurer a couple of years later. Dad was always running against himself; do you know what I’m saying?

Young

No, I don’t. What do you mean?

E. Kennedy

There were a certain number of people who just wouldn’t vote for him, no matter what. So basically, no matter what person you put there to run against him, he would inevitably be–

K. Kennedy

He’d know his own negatives and what the opposition research would be against him–

Young

Yes.

K. Kennedy

–you know? Like certain positions that he knew, abortion and things like that.

E. Kennedy

Yes, so he would always be–He was so controversial, because he had taken so many controversial stands. When you’ve been in politics a long time, you have to vote on many controversial issues. He was just a controversial figure. That’s why when I say he was running against himself, almost anyone who was running against himYou could go back historically and look at the poll numbers. Maybe Mitt Romney did a little bit better than the others, but by and large, it’s within the same 60-40, give or take one or two percentage points, in practically every election. Right? Have you looked at that?

Young

Yes.

K. Kennedy

I think we did the best, though, up until that point. We got 64 percent and the previous time, it was something like 62 percent.

E. Kennedy

And one of the big issues was when he took Rupert Murdoch'sThere was the rule that you couldn’t own a paper and a TV station in the same market, and then in like the middle of the night, Dad attached this thing to some amendment and that just totally screwed Rupert Murdoch. It made him have to sell either his newspaper or his TV station in the Boston market. It was the law, OK? And then Ronald Reagan changed it to allow Rupert Murdoch to own the Boston Herald and one of the Boston TV stations. So Dad, in the middle of the night, changed the thing, and it was clear. It didn’t say Rupert Murdoch, but it may as well have said Rupert Murdoch. Do you remember that story? Do you know that story?

Young

I know about the event. I don’t know the story.

E. Kennedy

Oh, yes, the event. So he, in the middle of the night, attached it to the–

Young

What was it, an amendment?

E. Kennedy

Yes, it was an amendment and no one knew what it was. All of a sudden, Rupert Murdoch. That was in the middle of the campaign. So you could imagine what the editorials were like after that.

Young

Yes.

E. Kennedy

But it was fun. I think he worked on his brother’s campaigns, and he always viewed politics as a–It’s like a family enterprise, really. I think he viewed it like that. You really need to have your buy-in, and I think he thought that his family was an asset to him, at least I hope he did. So yes, that was all part of it, and I think he wanted us to love it, by asking us to do it and working in the campaign.

Young

Well, in the Kennedy family it was always, it seems to me, from the outside, always a family involvement in the campaign. I mean, this goes way back.

E. Kennedy

Yes.

K. Kennedy

And now Patrick does it with all of us. My kids love to campaign with Patrick in the Winnebago holding up signs and meeting people in the delis.

P. Kennedy

I learned early on about family involvement when we went on these camping trips. One of them was skiing in western Massachusetts, and I skied into the woods and I hurt my leg, but I felt like I might have been good enough to ski down to the bottom of the mountain. I thought I’d better ski down because we had photographers skiing with us and reporters, to cover the fact that we were skiing in western Massachusetts. So I thought, Oh, geez, my dad’s really going to be upset if I mess the whole thing up and I’m stuck in the woods. My leg is hurt, and all the rest. So I’m trying to get up and get my ski poles and my skis, and Dad comes into the woods and he says, “Stay down, stay down. You’re all right, the ski patrol is coming.” And I’m like, “Oh, no, it’s all right.” He says, “Oh, no, don’t worry about it.”

I couldn’t figure out why he was so insistent that I get carried down by the ski patrol, until I got to the bottom of the mountain and there was every camera in all of Massachusetts there, and a waiting ambulance. Then the next day, on the front page of the newspaper, Dad is helping me into the ambulance. Of course everybody in Massachusetts knew that we were skiing in western Massachusetts. I had been like the flagship for the campaign at that point.

E. Kennedy

He used it. [laughter] That was really funny, because it’s true. It was on the front page of every paper in Massachusetts, “Patrick Kennedy breaks–” And concerned father helping him into the–The ski patrolman was carrying him with Dad, and he thought that that was just hilarious.

P. Kennedy

I had finally done my job. [laughter]

Young

A lot has been written about–not a lot, but it’s been frequently mentionedhis Presidential aspirations and his decisions. You were very much involved, at least according to what the stories are, in the 1982 decision of his not to run in '84. We know the statements that he made about deciding not to run in '84, but I’d like your perspectives on what–This is a question of how you might have affected his decisions, because he said there were family feelings, feelings that the children were very important to this decision. I’d like you to talk about that a bit, if you can. And do you think he really wanted to run in that campaign? Was that your impression?

P. Kennedy

I think he was exhausted. I think he ran a couple years out beforehand. He got to run a couple of years ahead of time, when running–preparing a Presidential run. So he’d been running there. Then after the '80, he had to keep running for his '82 campaign, for reelection for Massachusetts.

Young

Right.

P. Kennedy

And then he had to crank it up and keep it going for his '84 campaign, if he was to do that. So he had been running for, literally, six years hard, eight years in total, because he was going before then. That’s breakneck. That would be enough to bury even the strongest soul, and my dad was the strongest of anybody. He could outdo anybody. There isn’t a person in this world that had a stronger constitution than my dad, in terms of being able to put up and keep it going. That would pretty much bury anybody.

K. Kennedy

I used to think it was somewhat personal too, just personal. Family place probably wasn’t as strong.

E. Kennedy

So what do you think?

K. Kennedy

Well, I’m not going to go into any specifics on that. That’s just my memory.

Young

I’m trying to get the sense ofHe had also run against, as you say–It was very precedent breaking, to run against [Jimmy] Carter for the nomination.

P. Kennedy

I think he ran again, so to speak, when he kept running in '80, because in a sense, most people would have packed it up after the beginning of the campaign, after he had had a series of losses in the caucuses, and yet he–

Young

The primary campaign.

P. Kennedy

The primary campaign. But he kept it going and then ended up wrapping up that campaign, really, on a very strong note, with a number of victories under his belt, and going into the convention very powerfully. And then, of course, he wrapped up his whole campaign very strong. But at the end, he had had to really carry that whole campaign for a long–That campaign was not self-sustaining; it depended on him to carry the load.

Young

I don’t think this was the end of his thinking about running for the Presidency, his defeat for the nomination, but maybe I’m wrong.

E. Kennedy

I disagree with you.

Young

You do?

E. Kennedy

Yes. This is how I remember viewing it. You see, I was not crazy about him running for the Presidency to begin with. I didn’t think he needed to be President; I thought he could accomplish a lot in the Senate. I think he always felt like, well in 1968 or '72, he could have had it. So I could tell that in the back of his mind, he had always felt he should run for President.

Young

Should run.

E. Kennedy

Yes. In 1980, I didn’t really want to be the one who denied him. I wasn’t crazy about him for running for President in 1980, I’ve got to tell you. I didn’t want to be the one who said no to him, because there were very few people who ever get the chance to even run for President. He ran, he gave it his best shot, and my attitude was, Why are you doing this? You tried; it didn’t work out, but look, you’ve got a lot going on. Do you see what I’m saying? I think it was a relief to him, actually, don’t you guys?

P. Kennedy

Yes, I do.

E. Kennedy

I think it was a relief to him when we said, “Why do you want to do this? You tried. You can go the rest of your life–” I didn’t want him to go the rest of his life thinking he could have been President but he never gave it a shot, because I think that that would have been–

K. Kennedy

Yes, I think so too. I think he had to do it. He thought he had to do it at some time.

E. Kennedy

Exactly. I think he would have, because I think in '68 he could have probably, but it was all too close after Bobby. But I think he probably could have–or in '72 even. I think he could have probably gotten the nomination in '72. I don’t know how it all would have worked out, of course. That’s what I think.

P. Kennedy

And the fact that he had a triumphant wrapping up at the convention.

E. Kennedy

Being at the convention, yes.

P. Kennedy

And then he got really–He found his voice in the Senate. I mean, it really started taking off for him there. I think he exorcised that angst to try to do this, and then he settled back into what he really was good at.

E. Kennedy

Wanted to do, yes, exactly. So I think it was, he did it, he gave it his best shot.

K. Kennedy

I think so too. I think Mom and Dad weren’t doing well.

Young

I think these perspectives are important, because there are commentaries all over the map about this issue in his life, and there was a lot of pressure on him always.

E. Kennedy

There was always political pressure.

Young

They were always on him.

E. Kennedy

The pollsters and this and all that.

Young

Some staffers, everybody.

E. Kennedy

They were all saying let’s go, and they’d show up. But you know what? I saw the polls in 1979, and those same pollsters were saying he was going to be the next President, no question about it. I mean, I read these polls. They showed him up against Carter and up against the potential Republicans, and they showed him basically walking into the White House, OK? That’s what those poll numbers showed. I think it would be good for the Institute [Edward Moore Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate] to maybe–I don’t know where all that polling material is.

P. Kennedy

It would be very good.

E. Kennedy

I think for the Institute to get copies of these polls, don’t you think, Patrick? It would be very–to show the information that he had at the time.

Young

I have seen some of the–

E. Kennedy

I remember it was considered a slam dunk, OK? And then suddenly it was like, why do you even need to do this? And I knew he could be effective without being President. In fact, he almost was, if you really think about it.

Young

Yes.

E. Kennedy

The bully pulpit that he had and the persona, and his ability to raise awareness about a particular issue. For a guy who was in the Senate, I think he probably had one of the highest profiles of any political leaders in the United States. And I was thinking, What more are you going to get out of it?–aside from being able to live in the White House and that kind of thing.

P. Kennedy

The irony and the real reason why, again, this was so vital to his being a political figure, is that his strength as a person, his strength in his abilities, made him ideally suited as a legislator. I mean, he is perfect at working the back rooms, at working people, bringing together compromise. I saw Karen Ignagni the other night, who said it’s true. She said, “I know you probably hate hearing this–You’ve heard it before–but if your father was here, this deal on health care would have been passed by now. There’s no one else who can call everybody together and get them all to say this is going to be the way it’s going down, and it would be done.” But it’s true, and I heard it from Judd Gregg last week. The number of people who acknowledge his political prowess as a legislator–And over and above anything else, he was–as far as the old style, like a Lyndon Johnsona master of this, to the point where he could accomplish more than most ordinary legislators, because of his political acumen in this field. As a historic figure, to study the way he operated, because he’s not just a Senator–He is a Senator who was enormously successful because of who he was, combining everything he had to bring to the mix.

Young

I find this very useful, particularly your comment about the fit between his skills and the vocation–the Senate as a vocation–for getting things done.

P. Kennedy

This is the thing, our family was about Presidency, and yet for him, it was ideally suited that he ended up in the Senate, until he was nearly five decades in the Senate, because through all that extra time, if he had gone into the White House, served, then he would have been out, unless he had been like an [John Quincy] Adams and gone back into the Congress, which may or may not have happened. His breadth of experience and what he gave to the country would never have been paralleled in terms of his sheer success and accomplishment. It just is amazing.

Young

During this period before people finally recognized that he was not going to be and did not want to be, was not going to try to be President, there are a lot of people who follow the news, who study, who commented, saying, like both of his brothers, he’s in the Senate as a stepping stone, as they say, to the Presidency. And just like his other brothers, he’s waiting his turn. There was even a lot of interpretation of–This is really in some ways quite bizarre–of his legislative priorities in the Senate or his work in the Senate as being dictated with the view to running for the Presidency. I think, historically, that is going to seem truly bizarre when you see the fights he fought during that period, which weren’t necessarily–

E. Kennedy

–the greatest political–

Young

Yes. So the question that arises is, was there something in his makeup, in his skills, in his people skills, that was almost a perfect fit with the culture of the Senate, which he had mastered, the way of doing things, the legislative way?

P. Kennedy

There’s another thing too, and that is that I think he made a lot of the fact that people thought that he was going to be. So he got the best and the brightest from the beginning, in his Senate career, to work for him, which made him enormously successful, because he got really great people who were signing on to another Kennedy Presidency. So he got the best people. By the time he came back around, if you will, to his second career in the Senate, after his run for the Presidency, he was of a seniority level so that he already could get whatever he needed, just by dint of his own place, as his own person in the Senate. So it’s like he made the most of what he could get at the first part, and then he had it all at the second part. So his full career was as successful at a top-pace tempo that you could have. It wasn’t like he had to come to a certain level and then start his life legislatively. He had it going from the very beginning.

Young

Is it conceivable that he could have chosen any other path?

K. Kennedy

I was just going to bring that up. He’s always said that if he wasn’t a politician or a Senator, he’d like to be an opera singer. And so, in having described all these attributes that make him perfect as a Senator, I wonderI never asked why he thought that way. I don’t know if you guys have any thoughts on it.

Young

I think a tenor too.

K. Kennedy

Did he ever say why that would have been his second profession?

Young

No.

K. Kennedy

Do you guys know, or have you given it thought?

Young

Jean [Kennedy Smith] said he could have been anything.

E. Kennedy

It was hard to imagine him like that.

Young

A performer of some kind.

K. Kennedy

He loved the arts. Yes, performance maybe.

E. Kennedy

I do remember him telling me, though–He said it’s impossible to go from the Senate to the White House anymore. He said that John Edwards was attractive because he was only in the Senate for a short time, and he didn’t have to vote on very many things. And [Barack] Obama was very attractive because of the same reason–I mean, for multiple reasons. But he speculated that if you’re in the Senate for too long, it’s going to make the–I don’t know, did he ever say that to you, Patrick? If you’re in the Senate for too long, you have to almost–He was basically saying after your first term, you need to make a run. The idea that you’re going to be a Senator for a long time, he said, because there are just so many confrontations that come up, that you have to vote on too many things. You just make too many political enemies if you’re around for too long and have to vote on too many controversial things. That’s what he said to me.

P. Kennedy

Well, he also said that you’re not doing your job if you’re winning by more than 60, 65 percent, meaning you’re not taking good stands on issues; you’re going easy.

K. Kennedy

You’re just playing the middle field.

P. Kennedy

You’re playing the middle field, yes.

K. Kennedy

Without conviction.

P. Kennedy

Yes, exactly.

Young

Yes, well that goes back to the point of if you vote, you vote as part of your next campaign. Your vote is a part of your next campaign.

P. Kennedy

He really was very insistent about using his political capital for good purposes, not just to go along and get along. He imparted to us that you don’t waste this thing called a legacy, that it’s there, but it’s got to be used for the right things.

Young

So that kind of longevity in the Senate, opportunity, when you think about what he could have accomplished as a President, for the maximum of eight years, and what, in the length of time he was able to work in the Senate–That would have weighed very heavily as a historical figure. Just even that by itself makes him extraordinary historically. Somebody saidYou did, maybe, Teddyhe was almost a President anyway.

E. Kennedy

Well, I don’t mean that like–I just think that weighing into the decision in 1982, that he should–I’d been on the trips to South Africa and to Poland and to Russia, and I’d been with him to the conventions. He could go and give a speech on any issue, and so I didn’t think–

K. Kennedy

He got the attention anyway. Is that what you’re saying?

E. Kennedy

Yes, that’s what I’m saying.

P. Kennedy

He had the bully pulpit.

E. Kennedy

He had the bully pulpit.

K. Kennedy

Going anywhere.

E. Kennedy

Going anywhere, yes. He could make a statement on the floor of the Senate and be on the evening news. I don’t know if there’s anybody who got more attention than he did.

Young

He had the national constituency.

E. Kennedy

Yes, so I don’t know. I wasn’t convinced that he could have made all that more of a difference being the President. Even though I think he thought he could, and other people would say it, I wasn’t necessarily convinced of that.

Young

A couple of other–

E. Kennedy

I want to make sure that we cover everything you want to cover.

Young

Oh, you never cover everything in an oral history, but this is very good. Two more things I wanted to ask. As he matured into his role as a Senator, as he came to master the Senate, as he became something far more than his brother, just another Kennedy, and he grew older and he had some very difficult times in his life, did you notice–did you think he was changing in any way? Or to you was he showing, always, the characteristics and traits of character that you came to appreciate early?

E. Kennedy

What would you say?

K. Kennedy

I’d say the traits were always there.

Young

Always there.

K. Kennedy

I think like all of us in our lives at some point, or not all of us, we can all be a little wild in our own ways. There were a few years of that, but other than that, I think he was always steadfast in his values and his beliefs.

Young

I think there’s a very great continuity, when you look where he started and his positions on issues. I was talking more about the fun he got out of politics. He talked with me once about the changes in the Senate over the years.

K. Kennedy

Or the Members maybe.

Young

Yes. And somehow he kept at it, but I think his remark was, “It’s getting more like the House of Representatives.”

E. Kennedy

But he was just–See, I didn’t know–

Young

Did he lose interest?

E. Kennedy

He had so much energy. In many ways he was at the top of his game. Honestly, I think he really was at the top of his game. Even though he’s 77 years old and he’s got gray hair and his back is going out and all the rest, if he were to have lived, he would have passed another avalanche of legislation. Don’t you agree, Patrick? With this President and this White House, and him being the chair of that, I think it would have just been an avalanche of legislation he would have been able to accomplish. I try to think about whether he would have run again and I don’t know. I think he probably would have run again. We haven’t even talked about this.

K. Kennedy

I think he definitely would have.

E. Kennedy

You think he definitely would have, because I think he would have–

K. Kennedy

We’ve all wondered what he would do with himself.

E. Kennedy

He was too–He would have–

K. Kennedy

He would have been bored.

E. Kennedy

He would have been bored. In some ways I knew that he would probably die in office one day, because this is where he belonged. Honestly, that’s what I thought. So yes, he did not–The word retirement was just not in his vocabulary, I don’t think. He kept on a pace that you can’t even believe, the things he had going on in his life. It was really quite remarkable. In that way, he really did teach by example, to really work hard. You can have fun, be with your friends, but you know what? You’ve got to wake up on Monday morning; you’ve got to put on your suit and go into work. To me, that was the lesson that he taught.

Young

We talk about the judicial temperament and the executive temperament, and you don’t hear very much about the legislative temperament or the Senatorial temperament. People are going to think much more about that, I think, in the future. People who study the Senate and study politics from the academic side, even historians, don’t really think much about the importance of the person. They think about the importance of the institutional process. I think that, if anything, his career will help people to say the person does matter, much more than we theorists thought.

E. Kennedy

As Patrick said, it was the personal relationships that were the key. People liked him.

P. Kennedy

Also, he brought an old style of doing things that doesn’t exist now. I think the people who are in there now are in awe of it, because they know that it doesn’t really exist now and they wish that it did. The calendar of the way the Senate moves these days is not the way it was when he was–It was much more deliberative, spread out. It wasn’t condensed, in and out, mark things up quickly and then everybody out. It is much more of the pace of the House over there in the Senate. Plus, with the grind of the fund-raising, which is a differentIt used to be the parties did a lot of the politicking, up until Watergate, and then parties were really dissolved. Then it was the individual candidate who took over in terms of their political apparatus. It changed the dynamics of the process, so that it was now–

Young

But he still seems, to me, to have adapted.

P. Kennedy

Oh, no; he adapted. I’m just saying the atmosphere was not the jovial, fun-loving, collegial, everybody’s a pal, hanging out, doing the kinds of fun things that everybody did. It’s not that way any more, and I think he missed that a lot.

E. Kennedy

Yes, he missed that a lot. When Orrin Hatch told the story the Friday night before, how he’s burying his mother in Utah, and he turns around and there is Ted Kennedy sitting in the pew–That’s a real telling story, because that type of story can be told hundreds of times. After that moment, there’s something that happens to individuals, where my father and Orrin Hatch–They had a relationship before then, but they weren’t going to let their partisan beliefs interfere with it. Orrin Hatch came to my grandmother’s funeral. That was an example of the old way. And he wasn’t trying to score points. This was the authentic person, who he was. Whereas today, somebody doing that would maybe be seen in terms of making a political move, as opposed to it being a genuine personal thing.

Young

My impression is that this was–It may have been like that in the old days, but it was always this way with your father, and these stories were not associated so much with the older days but with Ted Kennedy. He would call, he would be there, he would notice–

E. Kennedy

Yes.

Young

–events, sicknesses, marriages, deaths, everything.

P. Kennedy

It’s really important to know that the introduction of cameras onto the Senate floor, into the committee hearings and everything, changed the place forever. Back in those days, Republicans, Democrats, everybody worked and they got compromises done; they worked together. Now, everybody is there and they talk to the camera, they don’t talk to each other. Things have gotten more polarized because of the nature of people talking to their base as opposed to talking to each other. So I think he was of the old school, where everybody actually legislated and really got to know each other. And they stuck around, they traveled together, they got to know each other. It was a whole different atmosphere than there is today. I think he carried that with him a lot, even after the times changed, and I think it made him a very attractive guy to a lot of people, because they wanted to bring that back.

E. Kennedy

John Kerry was one of his closest friends in the Senate, yet he would rarely see John Kerry in the Senate, because John Kerry has his 80 things he’s trying to do, and he’s running around and jetting all over the place and flying here and flying there. You think, OK, they have similar political philosophies, they represent the same state, they work in the same office building, but yet they have very little time to actually sit down and talk.

Forget about any of the other Senators. I don’t think that there’s a lot of actual real interaction among any of the different Members, as Patrick was saying, normal interaction. And he missed that.

Young

He missed it. He talked to some degree in the oral history about, “Is this discouraging? Is it less rewarding?”

E. Kennedy

I don’t think he was discouraged.

Young

Always an optimist. He always looks at the bright side. Always can get something done, always expects to get something done. If not now, later. That’s a trait I’m sure you have seen in him that comes across also in his own interviews.

Just two more brief things. I’d like you to talk a little bit about his second marriage and what difference that made, to get married again, to Vicki [Reggie Kennedy]. I have known him only since well into that marriage, but so many people now talk about pre-Vicki Teddy and post-1992 Vicki. I’m just asking for your comment on that. That was one of the things I had in mind when I was saying, “Did you see any change in him?” Maybe not in him, but maybe in some parts of his life.

E. Kennedy

I didn’t think he was going to get married again, so I was surprised when he made the decision to get remarried. I thought he had–I mean, he dated a lot of wonderful women, he had wonderful friends, he had a wonderful family, loved spending time with them, so my thinking was, Why do you need a wife–Right?–when you have all of that? I don’t know, that was just my thought. I do think that Vicki was really helpful to my father, especially in the last couple of years of his life. I think she really helped him work harder and focus and direct himself, I will say that. So, I don’t know, what would you guys say?

P. Kennedy

It depends on what the question is.

K. Kennedy

Well, I think she was there also, not only caring for him and taking good care of him, but as a partner in everyday life or in political life. She’s smart. She’s a great sounding board, and she helped. She’s a great writer and thinker, so I think she helped Dad not only in personal ways, but also in legislative ways. She was like an aide too.

Young

Aide and kind of political partner.

P. Kennedy

I think politically, she was very–I mean, clearly–vital and helping him. I think he was clearly–That Harvard speech, that was a big challenge for him. His personal life was becoming a big issue, and Vicki really was somebody who gave him some stability, if even for just his political life. She was a great source of strength and political stability, definitely, no question about it. And I think personally, there’s no question that she was very helpful to him in bringing some focus, as Teddy was saying, back on what he loved to do so much in his work, because she was such a good person to keep that kind of sounding board and focus on it, because she came from a political family too. So she had that same interest and was there to back him up in his vital interest in life, which was politics as well.

Young

I had the opportunity to observe the two of them the times I was there to do interviews, and I invited her to sit in on some of the interviews. So I saw only that aspect and it seemed to me, she was a foil. She could be a foil, to get him to make things. They would have arguments sometimes, on different sides: “Oh, you’re the other side; no, you’re all wrong.” So, I’m recognizing in that relationship much of what you observed in his relationship with people generally.

E. Kennedy

Yes.

Young

As well as the strong personal bond between them. You and other members of the family, I understand, spent a lot of time with him in his last months. After his diagnosis, he was not giving up. Not only was he picking a strong hand and his decisions about his own treatment, but I sensed that he became–He had a couple of projects he was not going to give up, maybe more than a couple. The health care involvement, from my perception–I never talked with him after he got sick–that’s one; and the other was True Compass. He wanted very much to do that and to get it out. So were these the high working priorities that you saw?

E. Kennedy

Well, I’d respond to that in a couple of ways. One is that I think my father was always very goal oriented, so you know his goals were to speak at the Democratic National Convention in August. That was a huge goal of his and a huge accomplishment, given the surgery and whatnot. His goal was to make it to the inauguration and see Barack Obama inaugurated. One of his goals was to work on the EMK [Edward Moore Kennedy] Institute and also to finish this book that he had been writing. I have to say, I told him after his diagnosis that I thought that he shouldn’t write his book, because I didn’t want him to have to worry about one thing, and I knew that it was going to take a lot of time to complete. Even though he had worked with the oral history, from which he got a lot of information, and he had been working, still I knew it was going to take–and I didn’t want him to have to stress one moment about the book. But he said, “No, I really want to finish this book.”

I think that having goals in the last–He was a realist, but he was also an optimist. He carried on in such a way that it was hard to remember that he had brain cancer, because he was out on his boat all the time, and it was only in the last couple of months of his life where he really started declining from a health way. He was on his boat, he was active, he was with his dogs. He was really very–Although maybe he wasn’t in the Senate all the time, he was on the phone and all of that kind of thing. So I don’t know.

I think he had an incredible amount of acceptance about his situation, which I found remarkable. He was very philosophical about his diagnosis. Of course, he was going to do everything to try to cure the cancer, and he went to Herculean efforts with the operation and the proton beam and all the things. I think, at the end of the day, he was at total peace with himself in terms of what he wanted to accomplish in his life, with his relationships with his children and his friends and all of that. So I don’t know, I think it was helpful. I don’t know whether, Kara or Patrick, you have any thoughts.

Young

Kara?

K. Kennedy

I’d agree with you. I remember you telling me, Teddy, that you didn’t want to have him feel pressured to finish the book.

E. Kennedy

Yes.

K. Kennedy

But he never really told me that this is what he really wanted to do. He talked a lot about the oral history project and how important it was.

E. Kennedy

Yes, and I think he was really grateful that he had done the oral history project, had started the oral history project when he did.

K. Kennedy

And the Institute as well, to have students of the Senate come. And as Teddy said, until the end, he was out on the boat and taking calls. For a couple of hours in the morning, he’d converse with his staff, do all his work. And yet he spent a lot of time sitting out on the porch, just overlooking the ocean.

Young

He and I had conversations on the occasions of the interviews, about writing his book. He didn’t need any of my suggestions, but I was very much a part. I could see that he was coming to get a way of thinking how he could do it and what he would do. And I think that evolved in some of the oral history that he was doing. So it was, in a sense, that the oral history became a kind of rough first draft.

E. Kennedy

Yes, I think that that’s true. It allowed him to–Working with you prompted a lot of his memories.

Young

And asking questions about what I thought people in the future would want to hear from him.

K. Kennedy

I think it makes a difference, just as we’ve done today, because it prompts you to think of examples of how he persevered, or he was patient or he was funny or loved having friends around.

Young

Why do you suppose he–This is a silly question in a way, but I’m thinking about his relations with Obama and his early endorsement of him. Was that predictable?

P. Kennedy

I think he had a really–He has obviously shown many times, through everything he’s done, that he had a really profound sense of history, American history. As I said at the outset, he had a very profound sense of his own place and his family’s history, and a sense of obligation to be the carrier of that, the standard bearer. And I think that that was part of that whole process, because he found himself in a place where his brother had been the President who had given the first national address on race relations.

Young

Yes.

P. Kennedy

And his other brother had been Attorney General and had been forged, through the crucible of the civil rights movement, to be in the middle of all of this transition in American history. In a sense, he saw it as our family had this intersection in history, with the civil rights movement, that was part and parcel of history. And we were part of that civil rights movement, by the dint of history, and that that wasn’t going to be broken. And that he felt that there was a coming to fruition of that, that he was going to stay true to our family history and make this come full circle. I think there was a sense of greater obligation to a sense of family legacy and staying true to family legacy, of being part of a greater struggle for equality and fulfillment of the American dream that was articulated by his brothers and part of our family ethos. And that superseded any kind of personal, very close relationship and great respectful relationship with the [William and Hillary] Clintons that he had.

It showed his sense of living on a different level, too, in the sense of being always mindful of this bigger role that he played, in a historical sense, that it wasn’t for him, just the immediacy of the politics of the moment, but it was his role in playing a bigger part of American history. At that point, his role could make a difference in the trajectory of this candidate, and ultimately the fulfillment of a struggle that his brothers were part of.

Young

Sometimes he would use the phrase, often used the phrase, the “march of progress.” You undoubtedly heard this. I think it’s not only the family legacy and carrying on tradition, but it was also the hope of continuing what he called the march of progress, all across the board. He talked to me about that a little bit before the endorsement, and about the alternatives, before he declared. He always referred to it as he had the capacity for leading, of leadership and thinking ahead, thinking anew, and the gift of bringing the country with him, inspiring the country, which he did not see, I think, in the alternatives.

Anyway, I hate to end on a personal comment by the interviewer, but if you are exhausted and have finished your say–

E. Kennedy

The thing is that I feel like I could talk about my father for days.

Young

I’m sure you can.

E. Kennedy

On the Friday night, Patrick and I had the opportunity to remember our father at the church service. I remember attending Friday night, and I saw John Culver and Chris Dodd and John Kerry and all these people who knew my father, ten of them or something, offering their thoughts. I remember thinking to myself, How the hell am I going to be able to say anything? What I realized after that night was that you could have had 100 people get up and talk about Dad, and all have a story to tell and a different story, and a slightly different facet on the insight of this incredible human being. That was really telling to me.

P. Kennedy

The thing I think that’s so misunderstood about his politics is that he was for justice. There’s this terrible mischaracterization, that’s politically motivated by the right, to make Democrats out to be for some redistribution of wealth, kind of paternalistic, let’s help the poor people, let’s help the minorities, let’s help–

My dad was for making sure there was justice, and that people started at the same starting line, so that if they didn’t have the same backgrounds and same place where people could get to that same starting line, that that was where society owed them an education to get them there, owed them support of services, social, childcare, human services, whatever, to get them there. That this was about justice. I think that’s the appeal that unfortunately we’ve lost, in terms of how that’s gotten across, because it’s not about–I think it’s a principle everybody agrees with, that nobody’s getting anything other than justice, which is just allowing them to have the same opportunities that others have. Unfortunately, it’s been mischaracterized as they’re getting something that someone else isn’t getting, at someone else’s expense.

Young

Yes.

P. Kennedy

And my dad was all about making sure that people who didn’t have the same opportunities were given the same opportunities. It’s a whole different way of looking at things, but it’s an important different way of looking at things, that justifies the work that he did in a very powerful way.

Young

I think that will be more and more understood as study and reflection distances itself from the ideological and political struggles of the moment. You’re not the only one who has made this observation in the oral history, so I think that will also come out very much in the oral history.

I can’t thank you enough

E. Kennedy

No, thank you.

Young

For contributing this to the history.

P. Kennedy

The human dignity part, we saw it when he brought us around to the hearings on health care and the like. He was so intent on people not being dissed, if they didn’t get the health care. I mean, he was really enraged byIt’s like that thing about him going anywhere and being connected with folks. I think he had this sense of identification with people that he would not want to be in that position where he was put out just because he belonged to the wrong group of society, and then was denied because he was discriminated against. He had this sense of, I don’t know, empathy or compassion or whatever it is, of putting yourself in someone else’s shoes that was very strong.

Young

Along with a commitment to fairness and getting a fair shake and getting the opportunity.

P. Kennedy

Right.

Young

I hope this wasn’t a trying experience for you. It certainly was a good experience for me as an oral historian.

E. Kennedy

It’s hard just because–I mean, as I said, this is the first time we’ve all sat here and talked about him. We’ve done a little talking about the book, but then you’re talking about the book, you’re not really talking about these personal memories of growing up in our family. Do you know what I mean? I think we’re preprogrammed to be mistrustful of people.

Young

Sure.

E. Kennedy

I don’t know, I’m speaking for myself. It’s just that I think so many people have–I’m not putting you in that group, by the way, Jim. I think we feel very protective of our father, because so many people have twisted so many different things and there have been so many times where people–You’re cooperating in a particular book or piece, and then it’s somehow twisted around and misrepresented. Do you see what I’m saying?

Young

I do.

E. Kennedy

So I think we’ve all been burned a few times, quite honestly, growing up, and so we’ve guarded our privacy. But I’m really looking forward to sharing in the future, because I do want people to have a better understanding about who this wonderful man really was.

Young

This is not for me to write a book.

E. Kennedy

I know. [laughter]

Young

Though I’m not saying that someday, if I live long enough, after the oral history is out, I might want to share some of my reflections on doing the oral history. But I understand very well what you mean, and that’s why I think it’s important to get as much candor, without violation of people’s privacy, for this. This is basically source material for others who will be studying, as you know.

E. Kennedy

I can say, I can probably imagine a situation where ten years from now, upon reflecting more about my stories and my relationships and all of that, where it might be–I mean, I realize the oral history project will be over, but I can imagine. I think the newness of my father’s death and the fact that we ourselves are just–I don’t know about you guys, but I’m just, in my own way, processing my relationship with my father.

Young

Yes.

E. Kennedy

What kind of person he was, what kind of life he wanted for me, all of those memories, the good and the bad memories, all of that is just–It’s very raw. I think that you need to understand that, and whoever is listening to this needs to understand that.

Young

Yes. The time and the circumstances

E. Kennedy

Of this particular–

Young

–are very important. Well, maybe in 10 or 15 years somebody will say, “Have you anything further to add?” Or if you ever come to the point of writing something of your own, you might find this as something that you might want to use. That was when I was always–I frequently said to your father, “I’m not writing a book. You ought to use this for whatever you want to say directly in a book.”

P. Kennedy

I will say this much. I think that in light of all the negativity of politics and politicians today, my dad’s funeral tributes and the spontaneity of the turnout for him ran contrary to everything in politics today, about what people say about politicians and what they think about them. It says a lot about him, because there was no political figure in modern life who was subject to more ridicule and right-wing bashing than my dad. And yet, people got to see through it, got to see him as an effectiveand in the totality of his life and contributionsand an amazing political figure who accomplished enormous social progress for this country.

That is an amazing testament to my dad, but also to the fact that people can see through all of the hype of modern political discourse that’s often really deflected from the reality of what someone is doing in their life, and that we often think doesn’t take into account what people are really up to. People got to see what my dad’s real work was about after all. When we were listening to what people were saying, they knew what he had done for them in a lot of respects. It was very reassuring to all of us that it wasn’t just the tabloids people were reading. They really knew what an effective guy he was.

Young

It did come through, and that was one of the things that was so important about–

K. Kennedy

And the people like you out there.

P. Kennedy

I know.

K. Kennedy

Well, thank you.

KKennedy, EKennedy Jr., and PKennedy, July 8, 2008 39

© 2019 The Miller Center Foundation and the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate

This is one of the many interviews that comprise the Edward M. Kennedy Oral History. For more information about the Edward M. Kennedy Oral History, including links to all interviews, please click here.

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