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Oral History

Stuart Shapiro Oral History (05/2009), Senior Staff Member of the U.S. Senate Sub-Committee on Health and Scientific Research; Massachusetts Deputy Health Commissioner; President, Pennsylvania Health Care Association

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

Heininger

This is an interview with Stuart Shapiro on May 15, 2009. Why don’t we start by having you talk about what your relationship was with other Kennedy family members and what you saw of their relationship with Senator [Edward] Kennedy. 

Shapiro

I have actually been thinking about this since our last interview. In fact, after you left I remembered all sorts of stuff. We discussed a little bit in the past how I was there not just as his health guy, but also the family health guy. As I thought about it, it went a little bit deeper. 

About two or three weeks after I arrived, as best I can recollect—it may have been a month or two—I’m sitting in my office and I get a call and the person says, Dr. Shapiro, this is Eunice Shriver. I had met her and Sarge [Sargent Shriver] when I had worked there as an intern three or four years earlier, but now I was officially on the staff. I said, Yes, Mrs. Shriver? She said, You know that your job with Teddy is also much broader than just that. We had a very good relationship with Phil Caper, who you are replacing. I said, Yes, Phil is a wonderful guy. And she said, We’d like to give you your official welcoming party to Washington. I said, Sounds great! She said, We’re going to host you, and invite all of our friends on Sunday night, whatever that Sunday night was. I started to work there around February or March. I remember the party was a spring evening, and it was at their house that was out by that shopping mall in Rockville. They subsequently moved. I asked, What is the dress? because I didn’t know, and I didn’t ask who was coming. She said, The dress is Washington informal. 

So I’m all excited about this—oh, and she had mentioned that, We understand that you are now single, and I said yes. I arrived there on a Sunday night at 6:00 or 6:30, wearing a Washington informal outfit of a blue shirt, gray slacks, and a blue blazer. I walked in, and the men were dressed in dark suits and ties; the women were dressed quite elegantly, not black-tie outfits, but clearly I did not know the definition of Washington informal. So my first social gathering in Washington, I sort of blew it. 

They introduced me to all of their friends, and I remember Bob McNamara was there, Ethel [Kennedy] was there. There were a lot of old-line—Clark Clifford was there. This was Stuart’s coming-out party and he had totally underdressed. Everybody made a joke about it, which in many ways endeared me to some of those people, who I’m sure have no recollection of that now, years later. But at the time, whenever I would bump into these people, they’d say to me—I remember I bumped into Bob McNamara in downtown Washington at a restaurant a month later. He came over to my table—I was there with a date—and said, Hmm, you’re wearing a tie today. So it was my introduction, but that hinted at how they viewed this role, because Phil had clearly played this role. That was the beginning of my relationship with the Shrivers that went downhill from there, which we talked about last time, right? 

I remember how difficult they were on almost any social issue that involved family planning, and how difficult they were—and we talked a little bit about a letter that I showed you—they truly believed that it was not okay to use contraception and encourage kids not to have the first baby. I re-read Sarge’s letter and it really was saying, this legislation is not about giving young girls choices, it is almost punitive. Whether Sarge really believed that, I’ll never know, but Eunice certainly did. Now as I look at Sarge in his elder years, he clearly has gone back to a very deep Catholic faith. I remember those discussions vividly, and I honestly don’t know what Senator Kennedy’s view was on those issues personally. I knew what he took as a political view. As I thought about it, many of his views were shaped by staff, and how much of this was his, I’ve never really fully understood. 

Heininger

I think it’s clear that he does have a very strong Catholic faith, and that there’s been an evolution in his political position on things like abortion and family planning. But what you’re also saying is that you didn’t get any indication about whether the political stances he was taking truly were, by the time you got there, at variance with his personal beliefs, or whether he had also evolved his personal beliefs and they were more in tune with the political.

Shapiro

I don’t know the answer to that. We do know that his behavior was not always up to the Pope’s standard as he would explicate it, and probably not up to his brother-in-law’s standards, but the Kennedys were complicated people when it came to those issues, as has been written by many historians. The women tended to be quite religious, but the men’s behavior, while going through the appearance of religion, was often not one of a strict, moral Catholic code.

Heininger

Well, you could say, and much has been written about this, that this was the model they were given in their family.

Shapiro

Right, and that’s what I was referring to.

Heininger

That their mother was very stringent on Catholic faith, beliefs, and behavior, and that the girls were all sent to Catholic schools, but that there was a double standard in that the boys were not sent to Catholic schools. They had the model of their father, which was very much at variance with that. 

Shapiro

Right.

Heininger

Did you get any sense, beyond Eunice, as to any communications that he would get from his mother about things like family planning and abortion? Or was it really Eunice and Sarge who were the vocal opponents, and the ones who attempted to also exert pressure on staff on these issues?

Shapiro

Pat [Patricia Kennedy] Lawford could not have cared less. Pat was into her life in New York City. Jean [Kennedy Smith] also was not—Jean was very nice, and I would see Jean at parties and she never ever wanted to engage in a substantive discussion about political issues. Ethel [Kennedy] was a pretty religious woman in her own way but clearly had no substantive political views that I could ever assess, and I dealt a fair amount with Ethel because of her kids and her own mental health. And I met the mother probably ten times over a five-year period, and never saw her as anything other than an old lady to whom Senator Kennedy was a dutiful son, but I never saw her engage in anything other than family chitchat. It was Eunice who lived in Washington who was the person. 

Now, Steve Smith was the family businessman who was the technician, but I never sensed he had any views, even during the campaign in ’80, of which he was the manager, which quite frankly I thought he did pretty ineffectively. I’m sure you’ve heard that from other people also. But he was not a boss. He didn’t say in that campaign—he tried to bring consensus, as often people like that do. But the only ones with whom I ever really had any substantive discussions in the years that I was there, or on the campaign, were Eunice and her kids. Bobby [Kennedy] and Ethel’s kids had occasional views, but they played no part in—when I would have discussions with him, he would say, Talk to so-and-so because they want to talk to you. But it was really, Just listen to him, but you don’t have to pay any attention. That was what was telegraphed. It was Eunice who clearly had a real interest in these policy issues, whether it was women in the military or family planning or disability issues or issues around the retarded. Eunice was a Washington player, as was her husband. None of the others really were.

Heininger

You dealt with Eunice’s kids too?

Shapiro

I did.

Heininger

Given what they’ve ended up doing, did you get the sense, having grown up in this political environment maybe more so than some of the other ones, that their views were similar to or at variance from their parents?

Shapiro

None of them were really old enough to have solid views, but I think that they were—it was a social-sexual time in Washington. These kids were kids coming of age. I don’t think that they were driven by any of these—what do you call them?—social agenda issues the way Eunice and Sarge were. 

Heininger

Did their weighing in go beyond this realm of specific social issues, social-sexual issues, reproduction, disability, which obviously has been a great interest of hers for many, many years? You mentioned women in the military. That strikes me as in another bailiwick. What other issues were you hearing that they were weighing in on? Were they constant presences, they’re weighing in on this, they’re weighing in on that?

Shapiro

I am sure they were. No, I’m not sure. But if you asked me whether I locked my car door last night, I would probably say yes, but I have no recollection of whether I did, because it’s the way I always do it. Their pattern was—they lived in this political world. Sarge came out of this world and was a player. Sarge was around the office, not every day, but a fair amount. 

Heininger

Really?

Shapiro

I would guess, given that Kennedy was very involved in refugees, and involved—I don’t want to say very involved with foreign affairs, but he was involved. He certainly was interested in the issues around Russia and Jews and other issues that, by pattern, I would think that they were involved. But because I wasn’t dealing with those issues on a day-to-day basis, I can’t speak to it.

Heininger

But those are issues that Ted’s views probably were more in sync with theirs than on things like reproductive rights. 

Shapiro

I don’t know that, because I don’t know what Sarge’s views were on Russian Jews, for example, and human rights. I would guess, but I just don’t know. That’s probably right, but we were dealing with some pretty complex issues of foreign policy then, and they were nuanced, and good Democrats in Washington would argue about those nuances. Sarge and Teddy may have been different, I just don’t know. I mean, he ran in a very big circle with a lot of old Kennedy hands, and they all—he would say to Carey Parker, Go to talk to so-and-so or See what Pierre [Salinger] thinks about this. They were nuanced views. 

Heininger

Were there other health issues on which the Shrivers would weigh in besides the reproductive rights issues?

Shapiro

They were clearly interested in biomedical research issues.

Heininger

Which Ted’s been interested in too.

Shapiro

Correct. They were clearly interested in developmental disabilities. They were clearly interested in national health insurance, because they had real concerns that abortions not be paid for, and this was a contentious issue as we were drafting legislation. Eunice called me about mental health legislation. I don’t remember the details of her views, but she would occasionally send me a marked-up bill saying, I like this, I don’t like this, and Sarge did the same thing. They actually read legislation.

Heininger

Was it your responsibility to take their recommendations to Kennedy and make your recommendations about their recommendations, or was it your responsibility to take what they were recommending?

Shapiro

Almost neither. It was much more, take what they have to say seriously, and let me know. It wasn’t that he debated those issues and made a decision. If I thought that they were simple and meaningless, I would by and large go along. 

Heininger

If they were easy to accommodate, you would accommodate.

Shapiro

And not important. If they were contentious and fundamental, I’d probably say to him, as I recall, I got a note from Eunice and Sarge, but it makes no sense in the broad scheme of the legislation. Is it okay if we don’t deal with this? And he would say, Do what you think is right, but call them.

Heininger

Call them?

Shapiro

Yes, and just tell them you’ve talked to me about it and we’re thinking about it and blah blah blah.

Heininger

Not call them and tell them, I’m not going to do it.

Shapiro

Correct.

Heininger

So, acknowledge their concern, not the end product.

Shapiro

Right.

Heininger

It sounds like he was walking on a tightrope with them. 

Shapiro

Oh always, and a very tight tightrope where he was—I only know of, in the history of him working, one staff person that he fired. He historically does not like confrontation, and I’m sure you’ve heard that from others. He hated that Phil and Larry [Horowitz] didn’t like each other. I talked to him about that once or twice, probably twice. That bothered him, because he was very fond of Phil and he was very fond of Larry.

Heininger

Did he understand why they didn’t like each other?

Shapiro

I’m not sure. I’ve never been sure. And I’ve got the personality in the middle. But he hated conflict. You’ve done the interviews; has he fired anybody other than Lee Goldman? 

Heininger

But there are ways to fire and there are ways to fire. There are ways to ease people out and locate them in other jobs if in fact you like them and think they’re competent, but they just may not be a good fit. And there are ways to fire for, I won’t use the word cause, but for what many people would say are good reasons to.

Shapiro

Right, he had a tough time firing people, but he would ease people out.

Heininger

He would ease people out. Well, he wouldn’t ease people out; I would say the chief of staff would ease people out. It was their function, not the boss’s function, to do that. I would say that’s true in many organizations—it’s somebody else, so you don’t have to say face-to-face, That’s it, you’re out.

Shapiro

Now, I think I told you about women in the military.

Heininger

No.

Shapiro

It gets to a later phase, and I might as well describe it now. We were on the campaign plane in 1980, and I remember it was not a real big plane. It was a charter for this particular time. There’s a story about the charter, which I’ll tell you later, and it shows you how sensitive that story on—in fact, I’ll tell you that story now and then I’ll come back to the other one, unless you don’t want me to.

Heininger

No, go ahead.

Shapiro

When the campaign kicked off, we rented the United jet, which then took a month or so to configure. They configured it so the first-class compartment had a bunch of seats and tables. There’s a picture of that compartment in my office, if you want to take a look at it. We named it, informally, Joansie after Joan [Bennett Kennedy], or Joanie, I can’t remember. I said, Are we going to have a big ceremony, and really kick this off? I’ll never forget, Paul Kirk said no, and I said, Why? He said, Because if the campaign goes south and we have to give up the campaign, and we have to give up the plane, the headline will read, ‘Kennedy Gives Up Joan,’ which was really very—but I remember that discussion.

Heininger

[laughs] Yes, okay. Well, that’s looking ahead. 

Shapiro

It was a sophisticated view of politics and headline.

Heininger

Politics and personal and headline.

Shapiro

Yes. I’ll never forget Paul saying that to me. And Paul was the brains on the campaign. Now to get to the other story. I don’t think we were on that plane, because this one was much smaller. I’m sitting around the back, which I remember went like that, and our campaign plane didn’t have—there was all the press in the back. So it was a much smaller plane. We were flying to California, and there was an article in Newsweek or Time about women in combat. That was an issue at this point in this campaign. [Jimmy] Carter had his views, which I don’t remember, and Kennedy came back and asked, Stuart, what do you think? And I gave my views, and Eunice gave her views.

Heininger

She was on the plane?

Shapiro

She was on the plane. They were 180 degrees opposite. So Kennedy sits in front of the two of us and he says, We are not getting off this goddamn plane until you two agree. I’m going to lock you in a room, and you two are going to develop my view. He said, Stuart doesn’t do military, you don’t do military. I guess he said, Carey will ultimately decide, but you two are going to come to an agreement, because I am not going to have a repeat of what we go through on the issues of a woman’s right to have an abortion. He was actually angry, but with a big twinkle in his eye, that he was not going to be put in the middle between Eunice and me. 

Heininger

So what middle ground did you work out?

Shapiro

My guess is, because I don’t remember the details, that we probably agreed that women can be in combat from a distance, but not in combat on the ground.

Heininger

Which neither of you believed.

Shapiro

Right.

Heininger

I’m assuming she thought that they shouldn’t be in combat at all. They shouldn’t be anywhere near it.

Shapiro

Yes, and I’m not sure what I believed. There were a lot of beliefs that liberal staff had that were socially and politically correct among the liberal establishment of Washington and among the progressive and social people who you went to dinner with. But whether they were really our views or not, I have no clue. [laughter] And we’ve all been there.

Heininger

Right, and frankly, ultimately that is the policy that we are under now, although we all know that women are in full combat. Officially, they are in logistical and supply positions, which happen to be the places that are taking many of the casualties, et cetera, but that’s interesting that he said—

Shapiro

I remember, he was not going to deal with this. I will never forget that discussion.

Heininger

On mental health issues, did you ever get the sense—did he ever talk about his sister Rosemary [Kennedy]? Around disability issues?

Shapiro

He mentioned her, but not in any significant way. I don’t think she was an important part of his life, at least that was my impression. He was probably a kid when she was born. I don’t remember the age difference, but I never sensed that that was a part of his personal history. She was sent to the Midwest about when, do you remember?

Heininger

I don’t remember the year.

Shapiro

But am I right that—

Heininger

Relatively early on. It was after the lobotomy.

Shapiro

He was born in ’32, I think. 

Heininger

Thirty-one, ’32

Shapiro

I think she was, I don’t know, among the older kids.

Heininger

I don’t have that sense that—she was not around a lot when he was—

Shapiro

  Yes, that was my sense. Eunice mentioned it more than Teddy did, but I don’t remember. That was part of what drove her. While Eunice was a nuisance in many ways, she came from a good place. She held her views, and still does. You asked me earlier whether the kids seemed to have her views, and I think I said that they were part of a more modern era than their mother.

Heininger

What was your function on the campaign plane?

Shapiro

My function on the campaign plane was multitasking, and I’ll describe each of them. I was clearly there—and Larry, when he did it, was clearly there—as a primary reason, if not the major reason, to carry a medical bag in case Kennedy was sick or attacked or shot at or stabbed. I carried a briefcase that had in it all sorts of emergency medical supplies. The Secret Service carried oxygen, and we had a trauma nurse out of the University of Colorado who also traveled full time with the campaign.

Heininger

Oh, really? I didn’t know that.

Shapiro

She was the Flight for Life nurse out of St. Anthony Central Hospital in Colorado. She was paid. That was the beginning of the era of helicopter, med-evac kind of stuff, and they were one of the first and largest in the country. There was one woman who did it most of the time. A lovely lady. If she wasn’t there, there was somebody else who carried an even bigger bag. The press used to joke that if Kennedy got shot, the nurse would take care of him and Larry would talk to the press. 

Heininger

[laughter]

Shapiro

They didn’t make that joke about me. We were clearly there for that reason. Now, it has always been my belief that Larry cooked this up so that he would have the opportunity to always travel, because I’m not sure that it was really needed. But Larry didn’t travel that much during the campaign. Lenore [Horowitz] wouldn’t let him, so I did far more traveling than Larry. And David Blumenthal, I think, may have traveled once or twice, but 99.9% of the time it was Larry or me, and I was probably 70% of the time. 

Heininger

Oh, really?

Shapiro

Larry’s presence was always—Larry wouldn’t remember the story that way. In fact, in Bob Shrum’s book, which is downstairs, is a story about saving Patrick’s [Kennedy] life and describes it as Larry who did it, but there is no doubt that he got it wrong. I did it on the plane. But Larry’s in Bob’s book as having done this, and I’m sure that Larry would remember that also, the same way that I do. And the records would show that, if anybody checked, if the Secret Service even keep those records anymore, and they probably do. So, it would be an interesting fact to check, but it was me. 

We were also there to write speeches, to make up jokes, to drink with the press at night, to pass information or disinformation to the press. We were there to help with logistics. We only had at the time—the people who traveled were Carey Parker and Bob Shrum. Both of them usually traveled, and they were clearly speechwriters. Tommy Southwick was the press secretary, and we were deputy press secretaries, schmoozers. Anything on health, I would write the speeches so Carey or Bob didn’t have to. We were there to give political advice, and we’d sit with the Senator at 11:00 at night. He’d drink his scotch and we’d all have beer. So we were a jack-of-all-trades.

 On the campaign trail was Rick [Burke], Carey, Bob, Paul Kirk and/or Eddie Martin, Tommy Southwick, and if it was a foreign policy subject trip, one of the foreign policy guys would occasionally drop in. But most of the time, they were back at headquarters doing the stuff and then sending it to us on the plane. My main reason for being there was to give kibitzing political advice, but also the raison d’etre was to carry the bag. 

Heininger

Were you, as a physician, treating everybody else, too, when they were sick?

Shapiro

Everybody. I remember Susan Spencer of CBS [Columbia Broadcast System] had an eye infection in Johnstown. I remember everybody would get sore throats or stomach flus, because they would go through a campaign. Everybody was exhausted. I sent an occasional staff person or press person to an emergency room. But it was a group of healthy people in their 20s and 30s and 40s who had minor ailments, mostly based on exhaustion. I don’t remember anything terribly major. I treated the Secret Service too. It was the same thing. It was all minor stuff. It was like being a summer camp doctor, which I still do for my daughter. 

Heininger

But it was also taking you out of what your role had been in Washington, which was—the physician role remained the same, slightly different clientele but remained the same—but had you performed that broader political kibitzing role that you had to perform on the plane? You’d been the health expert then—

Shapiro

Everybody on it—

Heininger

But you get on the plane and all of sudden you’re kibitzing on everything.

Shapiro

Yes, but that was—everything is interrelated. While I did the substance of the legislation in Washington on a day-to-day basis, I was also writing speeches. I was also doing how does this policy interact with that policy. I remember we were sitting someplace, I think it was in New York, talking about the Jefferson-Jackson Day dinner in Iowa. It was going to be on a Saturday night, and Carter and Kennedy had both been invited. I’ll never forget this discussion. It was silliness. Carter had said he was sending [Walter] Mondale. Kennedy was trying to decide if he was going to accept the invitation, which I think he had already accepted, or were we going to find an excuse now that time was close? Because Carter was originally going, Kennedy was going. Carter had been ducking Kennedy, and here was their chance to be together, so Kennedy accepted. Then, like the Thursday before, Carter said, There’s too much to do here. I’m sending Mondale. The question now was, will Kennedy show up? 

I will never forget—we’re sitting in the room debating this, and I remember listening to Carey and Paul, and Kennedy turned to me and said, What do you think? I said, You’ve got to go. You’ll tell some jokes. You’ll make the point. You’ll usurp him. You’ll get the better press, and you’ll make a joke about how Carter was afraid to leave the Rose Garden. I must have said this a half-hour into the discussion, after they were debating this and that. Kennedy looked at me and said, Stuart’s absolutely right. Let’s end this discussion, it’s silliness. So that’s just an example of a discussion. And we went, and he told some jokes. He made jokes about Mondale. I remember one of the jokes; he said, I remember the days when Mondale was for X and Y and Z, and he went on and on naming things. He says, Hmmm. And now what’s your view, Fritz? He was doing it in a monologue kind of way. So Kennedy ended up winning that, and we knew he would. 

So yes, I got involved. I remember a discussion about what does he do about going to a gay fund-raiser, and they’re debating it endlessly. He looked at me and he said, What do you think? and I said, You’ve got to go. 

Heininger

All right, you’re raising a bigger issue here, and that is endless debate over things that seem commonsensical to come down on one side or the other. Do you have a sense as to why the campaign went off track? Did you get a sense, while you were in it, that things were deteriorating? 

Shapiro

Yes.

Heininger

Why were they? Do you have a sense as to why?

Shapiro

Yes, I do. I think there were several reasons, and it started with Kennedy. He was fulfilling a destiny, by running for President, that clearly all of his staff wanted him to do, me included. We were already measuring where we were going to sit in the White House. Carter was weak in the summer and winter of ’79. We were having an energy crisis, he was unpopular, and the polling clearly showed Kennedy could beat him. But I’m not sure Kennedy from day one understood why he wanted to be President. He then was—and I’m sure your people have talked about the Roger Mudd interview; he wasn’t ready for that. Everybody was mad at Roger Mudd for asking the question that Roger Mudd asked. But the fact was, it was set up as a softball: walk on the beach with your old friend Roger, and I’m going to interview you. Then we’ll go back to the house and do some more. It all took place at Hyannis. The fact is that everybody was mad at Roger for asking him, Why do you want to be President? In my view, that was a softball question.

Heininger

That was a logical question. You’ve got to have your 30-second sound bite for it. 

Shapiro

Certainly every Presidential candidate since then does. But the staff was ready to kill Roger Mudd, and I’m sure you’ve heard that from other people, many of whom are still mad at Roger Mudd. But the fact was that—I’m not sure he knew why he wanted it. As the campaign went on, he got more and more and more into it. I think the hostage crisis came along, and the ability to manage that in our campaign was less than brilliant, but also it was very difficult to manage because now Carter didn’t have to engage, and it made Kennedy look opportunistic while we were there. 

He made a bunch of gaffes along the campaign. Our money-raising was less than disciplined. Steve Smith was wishy-washy. There was not an iron hand on the campaign. We did not plan strategy a month in advance or, for the campaign there was not much of—there were books on what people had written, memos on what’s the campaign strategy going to be, but we were undisciplined in following anything other than reacting, rather than try to control the flow of the campaign. We just never got it together. 

Heininger

Was this inexperience? Was this wrong personnel? Was this insufficient fire in his belly?

Shapiro

I don’t think the campaign had leadership. We had my good friend Ron Brown. Ron traveled a fair amount, running blacks. We had Barney Frank’s sister running women. Then we had two other women who were supposed to run women for the campaign, but there was no—we had issues, a whole issues staff based in the Cadillac dealership in Washington, and they had long meeting after meeting after meeting in Steve’s office, because when I wasn’t traveling I’d go to some of these meetings. There was no leadership, there was no discipline. As I recall, Steve got eased out towards the end, but there still wasn’t a king who made decisions. You need a king to make decisions. We had a lot of very good tactical political operatives involved, but there wasn’t the one overriding this is where we are today, this is where we’ve got to go. There wasn’t the David Axelrod disciplinarian that a campaign needs.

Heininger

Well, there’s also a difference between tactics and strategy, too, right?

Shapiro

And David was doing that for [Barack] Obama, but we were primarily into tactical rather than tied to a raison d’etre for why we were running for President.

Heininger

At this point, you were able to see somewhat of Carter’s operation. Did you see the same thing in Carter’s operation? Did you see a strategy? And did you see, in looking at the Republicans at the time, where there were campaigns that had strategy and those that didn’t?

Shapiro

I don’t think we paid any attention to Republicans. I don’t ever remember thinking about it, but I haven’t thought about that question. But the Carter people clearly were able to outfox us, for two reasons. They were the President, they could control the agenda, and they didn’t have to engage, because the President was too busy dealing with the hostage crisis. I’ll never forget, Carter sent in the rescue operation. 

Heininger

It was about May, April or May.

Shapiro

I think probably May, because it was reasonably late in the campaign. It was a disaster. Kennedy sent me to Brooke Army Hospital [Brooke Army Medical Center] in San Antonio, I think it was Brooke, to interview [Thomas] Schaefer, who was the pilot of the plane, who was burnt. We arranged for Kennedy to come to San Antonio for other political stops, but the secret plan was to have him do a drop by privately, that we would leak to the press, to see the crew that was in the hospital. So they sent me to San Antonio without the clearances that I was going to even get into the hospital. Then they had to get clearance from the Pentagon, and there were big negotiations prior to the thing. Finally, the Pentagon agreed to let me go in. I interviewed Schaefer and talked to people about it, because we were going to leak some of the stuff to the press. 

But the strategy on how to deal with that, say, if you do X, Y planning everything out, this was all tactics. I remember we took Kennedy to the hospital—or maybe we didn’t take him to the hospital, but we didn’t know how to exploit it because we hadn’t thought that through carefully enough. We didn’t want to appear opportunistic, and so you’re caught in a bind of—that’s why I say, I don’t remember if he ever went to the hospital or not. I believe he did, but I’m not sure we even leaked it, because we didn’t know quite how to manage that. 

Heininger

He did. He did go.

Shapiro

Yes, that’s what I thought. But we didn’t know quite know how to—you’re running a fine line now. Even a private visit was opportunistic. 

Heininger

It’s like, what are you going to do with it? Everybody knew it was a disaster. Carter lost the Secretary of State as a result. What does the campaign gain from bringing to the attention of the American public that this was a disaster when everybody already knew it was a disaster?

Shapiro

Right. I don’t remember what we did with it, but I’ll never forget talking to Schaefer. I’ll never forget what he said. He said, Dr. Shapiro, I’m lying in a hospital bed, and he described to me his exit from the plane—he was driving the big C-131 or whatever it was—and how he got out. He said, I went out through a window and I’ve never moved so fast in my life. How I got out I don’t know. He was the one who ran the C-131 into a helicopter, as I recall. They didn’t have enough helicopters, et cetera, but he said, I’m ready to go back tomorrow. Get me out of here. It was the most gung-ho military attitude of I’ve got to go back to finish this, with no realization of what a disaster it was. 

Heininger

Because he had a job to do, and the job hadn’t been completed, or because he really wanted to get the hostages out? There’s a difference.

Shapiro

I’m not sure that military guys make that distinction, and frankly, I’m not sure that I could make that distinction. The answer is probably both. 

But we just didn’t get it together, and we were going to drop out after New York—I saw the speech. But we won New York, much to everybody’s surprise, otherwise we would have been done. I was ready to go back to Washington, and we won New York.

Heininger

Did Joan travel on the plane?

Shapiro

Yes. In fact, there’s a picture of Joan and me on the plane in the other room.

 [BREAK]

Heininger

You said Joan did travel on the plane? 

Shapiro

She did. Not a lot.

Heininger

Was he different when she was around?

Shapiro

He was perfectly nice to her at all times. They did not have a lot of interaction even when she was around. They did share a suite. She was included in discussions, but we were on a train: you had to be one stop and another stop and another stop and another stop. You had to get ready between stops and you had to write your speeches between stops, so I think he was pretty much the same. 

Heininger

You were responsible as a physician for treating Kennedy. You were responsible for treating other members on the plane. In your Washington life were you—and your responsibility was to treat this extended family—were you also responsible for treating her and his kids?

Shapiro

The kids for sure. I’m not sure that there was—I certainly was not involved in the treatment of her alcoholism. 

Heininger

Was Larry?

Shapiro

I have no clue. I talked to him about it once. I remember the discussion; it was in passing, about Joan’s problem. Joan and I got along wonderfully. In fact, the quote that she’s written on the picture is that I was always healthy and happy when I was with you. But I don’t recall ever really getting involved much in any of that.

Heininger

Were you part of the process of evaluating whether she could handle the rigors of the campaign?

Shapiro

I was not.

Heininger

Were you aware that it was going on?

Shapiro

Yes, and I don’t know whether Larry was part of that or not. I know Paul was deeply involved in it and Eddie, because Paul and Eddie went back with Kennedy to day one, as was Angelique [Voutselas Lee]. Probably Barbara [Souliotis] too.

Heininger

Were you considered the physician of record for the kids? Were you officially their primary care physician?

Shapiro

Absolutely not.

Heininger

So they would have their own primary care physicians.

Shapiro

Or not primary, or wouldn’t. I mean, they were all pretty young. Patrick was—

Heininger

They didn’t have pediatricians then?

Shapiro

Yes, I guess they did, but I was clearly not their primary care physician.

Heininger

Then what were you expected to treat?

Shapiro

If they had questions, if they needed help. Teddy [Edward Kennedy Jr.] at this point was pretty healthy. His cancer was gone. Kara [Kennedy Allen] was somewhere between 18 and 20, I would think, so it was never anything other than—it wasn’t much of anything. Patrick certainly had an asthma doctor, and I treated a serious episode of asthma on the airplane, a serious episode, when he was turning blue. But I don’t remember getting involved with anything other than trivial stuff. And with Ethel or any of the others it was, Listen to your doctor. Go see your doctor. Let me get you to the right doctor. It was more a management role than a treatment role. Ethel still goes to the same doctor I referred her to, as a primary care internist, because she clearly—I don’t know if she had a lousy one or didn’t have one, but I got Ethel in to see Mike Newman, and it helped grow his entire practice because she told all her friends about this wonderful doctor.

Heininger

So managerial, not primary, and a resource. Were you also viewed as a second opinion, or as an I need some recommendations for who else to see on something?

Shapiro

All of the above. I tried to—and I do this today with my friends—give a general second opinion, but to refer them to the experts if they need a real second opinion. I don’t like to be a side-treater. I don’t think it’s in the best interest of patients. You want to help manage the process. I was always under the impression that Larry did that also.

Heininger

Did you do that for Ted?

Shapiro

A little bit, but I think he probably—Larry, for example, tried to always regulate his weight with these crazy diets. I mean, if he had a sore throat, I treated it. If he had a cold, I would treat it, but I certainly didn’t manage his high blood pressure or his cholesterol. 

Heininger

And you don’t have the sense that Larry did either?

Shapiro

I sensed that he didn’t see a doctor very much, and a little incident came up during the campaign, which in retrospect at the time was very hilarious. I got a phone call from the National Enquirer. The call went like this: Dr. Shapiro, you’re on the campaign trail? Yes. Can you tell us about Senator Kennedy’s health? I really don’t want to talk about that. That’s private stuff. They said, Answer one question for me. I said, What’s the question? They said, Is he in good health? and I said, He’s in great health. He was at the time 45 years old, more or less. I said, He’s in great health. They said, What medications does he take? and I said, He’s in great health. He takes no drugs. End of discussion, and I hung up. Headline in the National Enquirer: Kennedy Doctor Denies Drug Use. Kennedy was ready to kill me, but they reported it accurately.

Heininger

He takes no drugs. Denies drug use. [laughter]

Shapiro

Now, if you read that book there, there’s a chapter about me treating Kennedy.

Heininger

Well, I guess the safer word might have been, he takes no medications.

Shapiro

Which is probably what I said, I think is what I said actually, because I was very careful—

Heininger

OK, if you were very careful then you would have said medication.

Shapiro

But it was still the same thing—

Heininger

Same thing, yes.

Shapiro

But he was ready to kill me—legitimately.

Heininger

You said before that, through the years, you have been the extended family’s go-to person for mental health issues? Did that start when you were working on the staff?

Shapiro

I think I said that I did some of that. I don’t think I am the entire family go-to guy on all their mental health problems, and certainly far less today than I used to be, but I’ve been involved historically on those issues. Yes, I remember referring Ethel to someone, but I didn’t treat it. When the kids had some problems, and their mother or father called me, I was able to help facilitate that. I was a touch involved with Patrick, with one of his more recent episodes. They were like any other family that had a bunch of kids that had problems with everything from drugs and alcohol and—the goal was to get them to where they needed to get help. I was really the manager and the helper-manager, or I would be a manager who helped them, rather than to get involved in the day-to-day treatment. I felt that that was not my role ever to play, and would be uncomfortable doing it. 

Heininger

What I’m getting at is that you—this was the same function that you had had with his kids, of being the person who could figure out what the resources were, how to get to the resources, figure out who the experts were, and would help provide the information and help get them to where they needed to get.

Shapiro

I have always done that. I did that then, but I was probably the second resource. I’m sure the first statement was, Call Larry. If you can’t get Larry, call Stu. I’m sure that those instructions went in that order. 

Heininger

And that continued after you left?

Shapiro

Absolutely.

Heininger

And you don’t have the sense that subsequent physicians have played that role?

Shapiro

I just don’t know. Larry became, over time, a bigger and bigger presence after I left. He went on to become chief of staff. Larry knows how to throw an elbow if anything is threatening him. I’m sure that Larry controlled who was on the staff who could at all threaten his role. So how much they did it, I don’t know. You’d get a better sense from them, but I’ve always had the sense that Larry consolidated power as much as Larry could, in Larry. 

Heininger

Did he throw an elbow at you?

Shapiro

Never that I saw, other than his constant sarcasm, which Kennedy saw. Kennedy always treated me very well. Kennedy personally asked me to stay on after the ’80 election. When [Ronald] Reagan became President and the Senate went Republican, Kennedy personally asked me if I would stay on. I don’t know of other staff that he did that to. He may very well have, I’m sure he did, but his staff was going to be dramatically reduced in size because he was no longer chairman of the Health Committee, but the ranking member. He went out of his way to call me to say, Please stay on. I need you. I told him that I didn’t know whether I wanted to or not, that I was going to explore other opportunities. He said, You have a job for as long as you want to stay.

Heininger

Well, it would strike me that Larry would see you as a rival then. Or was it that he knew that he wasn’t going to be able to disrupt your relationship with Kennedy?

Shapiro

I think it was a little bit of that. But it was also that he understood, without us ever talking about it, that I understood that he was top dog. I wasn’t trying to become top dog, because I recognized that I wasn’t going to be top dog. Therefore, I became useful to him because he could delegate less important matters to me and still get credit for solving the problem. So I became useful to Larry.

Heininger

What kinds of things was he delegating to you?

Shapiro

Oh, I’m sure he stayed out of the whole issue of abortion, so he didn’t have to fight these battles. If Ethel, who I know Larry didn’t like, had a problem, he could divert it to me. If there was legislative stuff that needed to be done, he knew that I would pitch in. If there was travel to be done, he knew that I liked to travel because it stroked my ego, and that I would step back when he needed me to. So it played to my interest, and it played to his interest. I could have fun on the campaign trail, and do it, and Larry could do it when he wanted to do it. 

Heininger

So you weren’t the problem to him that Phil had been?

Shapiro

I think that’s probably right, but I’m not sure that Larry had the power when Phil was there.

Heininger

No, he didn’t.

Shapiro

Phil left and I came in but recognized from day one that Larry was top dog. Larry wasn’t there full time when I came in. Larry would come in on his once-a-month trips.

Heininger

Then why would you have felt that he was top dog if he was only coming in once a month and you were there full time? How’d you figure that relationship out that quickly? 

Shapiro

All you had to do was watch Kennedy and Larry. Kennedy liked me and respected me, but Larry was his top dog. Larry had a longer history than I did. I think Larry had been there full time at one point, when Phil was there.

Heininger

No. He did one year as a fellow and then went on as consultant status, where again he was in and out.

Shapiro

But he had had that year as a fellow, and he and Phil may have been terrible rivals then. My guess is that they probably were. 

Shapiro

Then how to explain why Kennedy likes him so well?

Heininger

I don’t know. Maybe he was the bad boy, smart boy, that Kennedy always wanted to be, I don’t know. But Larry is certainly inside Kennedy’s head. I recognized early that this was not something that I could win. I learned as a child that you don’t fight battles you can’t win. So, from day one, I was never a threat to Larry. I was a useful person for Larry.

Heininger

There is a difference.

Shapiro

I don’t know if you’ve talked with other people, but I’m sure they would view that the same way about me.

Heininger

What were some of the other health issues that you had to deal with while you were there? Was there a defined portfolio for you?

Shapiro

Yes. My portfolio was mental health, some community health center work, all the health planning stuff, part of the national health insurance, all the cost containment and what I’ll call current legislation that dealt with Medicare and Medicaid as it related to the Finance Committee, some mental retardation, no biomedical research at all, or virtually none because that was David. I did some of the work on saccharin, a lot of the bread-and-butter HHS [Health and Human Services] issues. That was pretty much it. I’m sure I’m forgetting something that’s blatantly obvious that will come to me, but I think that was pretty much it. I did not do much FDA [Food and Drug Administration] work.

Heininger

That was Larry’s, you said.

Shapiro

That was Larry’s.

Heininger

And he did the big lifting on national health?

Shapiro

That would be Larry’s perception for sure. I think a lot of us did the heavy lifting on national health insurance. Larry was the face, but I gave the speeches on national health insurance just like he did or Kennedy did, and I wrote many of Kennedy’s national health insurance speeches. 

Heininger

Who was your HHS contact? At what level were you interacting with HHS?

Shapiro

The Secretary and the Deputy Secretary level—probably more the Deputy Secretary level. Larry tended to do the [Joseph] Califano stuff. I did occasionally, and I used to go every Sunday morning to breakfast at a little drugstore on Wisconsin Avenue, called Doc Dalinsky’s. There was a ritual of Sunday morning at Doc Dalinsky’s, where Ben Bradlee and Joe Califano went and Art Buchwald went. All sorts of that level of establishment went, and Doc [Harry Dalinsky] would have bagels and big pot of coffee. They’d all come after church. So I got to know Califano pretty well and most of our interactions occurred there, while Larry did the official stuff. I became part of that crowd in part because Sarge introduced me to Doc Dalinsky. I remember those used to be fun Sunday mornings. 

Heininger

So Eunice welcomed you with this very high-echelon social party of Washington politicos. Did Larry run in those circles? Your entrée is also this Doc Dalinsky, again this same circle?

Shapiro

Yes, I think that was the same level, the old Washington hands who would come in for bagels and coffee.

Heininger

Was Larry running in that crowd too?

Shapiro

Larry, for at least the first year I was there, I think, it may have been shorter or longer, was still living in California and would come in. Larry by his nature would stay at home with his kids a lot on weekends. Larry was a pretty committed father as I recall. I think that Larry probably did far less socializing because he didn’t get his kicks out of that the way that I did as a single guy who loved to trade on the fact that I was Kennedy’s guy. It was socially wonderful for me, and the fact that I was single made it a lot of fun. I don’t know how often Larry played in those circles, but my impression was that Larry and Lenore didn’t like that playing. Did you get a different impression?

Heininger

I didn’t get an impression one way or the other. When you left, who replaced you?

Shapiro

That’s a more difficult question to answer because the staff changed dramatically. We went from a large, powerful staff to a de minimis minority staff because the Republicans had come in, and they hadn’t been there in a long time. I think Chris [Christine Capito] Burch, who had been Kennedy’s scheduler and then came over to the committee to work for me and for Larry, stayed and did some of the work. Bob Wenger left, I left, Blumenthal left. Larry must have hung around. I don’t think he brought in another doctor immediately, but I don’t remember. For at least in the short term, the staff didn’t need to have the power. I’m not even sure who replaced me. Chris stayed. Anne Strauss, who was doing National Science Foundation stuff, who had also at one time been on his personal staff, stayed. But I just don’t remember anybody else. Larry moved on to become chief of staff I think around then.

Heininger

He did. I can’t recall—there’s a gap in there of about four or five years until Dave Nexon comes in. There’s a gap, but I don’t know who was doing the work. There was work to be done, but I don’t know who was doing it.

Shapiro

I think it may have been Chris and Anne. That’s why I purposely didn’t mention David because he came in, I would have said three or four years later, but it may have been four or five.

Heininger

I can’t remember which year it was, whether it was ’84 or ’85.

Shapiro

But Larry—there wasn’t that much to be done, because Kennedy had gone from power to no power, which is why I left. I’ll never forget the discussion. He said, Why do you want to leave? I said, It’s not going to be any fun. And he said, What do you mean it’s not going to be any fun? I said, You’re going to say, ‘Stu, I want a hearing on this’ and I’m going to say, ‘Senator, we can’t schedule that.’ You’ll say, ‘Go to talk to so-and-so on [Orrin] Hatch’s staff,’ and I’ll say OK. I’ll come back and I’ll say, ‘He told me to pound sand,’ and you’ll start to yell at me and you’ll say you’ll go to talk to Orrin. You won’t say anything to me, and a week later I’ll say, ‘How did your discussion with Orrin go?’ And you’ll say, ‘Well, I haven’t had it yet.’ We’re going to do nothing, and I’ll be frustrated and you’ll be frustrated.

Heininger

Probably a fair assessment.

Shapiro

Absolutely. In fact, I saw him six months after I left and he said to me something about—no, I came in to testify because I had then gone to become Commissioner of Health in Philadelphia. He was helpful in giving a recommendation to the mayor of Philadelphia, who was Bill Green at the time. I came in to testify, and Arlen Specter was now a junior Senator. He testified, and I got more press than Arlen. He still teases me about that. Anyway, he commented to me at the hearing, You were right, by the way. It’s been a very difficult transition, or something to that effect. 

Heininger

I think it was the first time that he’d been in the minority—

Shapiro

In a very long time—

Heininger

Well, subsequently many more times, but that was the true wilderness.

Shapiro

Yes, and so I don’t know who he replaced me with. I just can’t give you the name. Obviously, my memory is pretty good on most of this stuff.

Heininger

I haven’t figured out who it is either.

Shapiro

That’s why I say—obviously, my memory is pretty good, if you don’t have the name either. 

Heininger

No, because in the broader scheme of things, there was still work to be done. When you’re in the minority, there is still work to be done. You don’t have any control, but you still have to do stuff. So there was somebody doing something, but obviously not at the level that it had been before or subsequently. 

Shapiro

I wrote down a funny story that I want to tell you. I remember during the campaign Kennedy had a fund-raiser in West Palm Beach. He and I flew down with the Secret Service, but I remember it was just the two of us. We arrived at his house on a Friday night, and I walked in with him; the Secret Service stayed outside. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen pictures of the Kennedy house in Hyannis Port, but at the time it was on the water and falling apart. It was in terrible shape. I walked in and his mother was there in a bathrobe. It must have been the spring because I remember something else happened after that. We walked in and he gave his mother a kiss. He always called her Mother. He said, as I recall, Mother, you remember Dr. Shapiro. She said, Yes, Eddie, I remember Dr. Shapiro. I’m sure she didn’t because she was out of it. He said, Is there anything that Dr. Shapiro can do for you while he’s here? She said, Yes. You see all those plants that are in the sunroom? I’d like him to move them into the living room. Whereupon Kennedy and I moved 30 plants from the porch of the sunroom into the living room.

Heininger

That’s very dutiful. 

Shapiro

Then there’s a second story about his mother. She had what I think was her 90th birthday in 1980, so we had a celebration of it in Hyannis. I remember there was a little parade. It was during the campaign, so we could generate some press. Kennedy said to me, Make sure you get good press for my mother. I said, What do you mean? He said, Go up to one of the national reporters and give them an exclusive interview. I said, Your mother can’t have an interview. She’s incoherent. He burst out laughing and he said, Go find one of the national press. You don’t know how to be a press secretary. I said, That’s probably true. 

Heininger

[laugher]

Shapiro

He said, Go find one of the national press and offer them the following deal: an exclusive interview—this was a Sunday—for the network news that night. They can have a half-hour with my mother. They will interview her, but the deal is that they edit and string it together so that she comes out brilliant and sounding coherent and supporting my Presidential bid. 

Heininger

Wow.

Shapiro

I looked at him and said, Will one of them do it? He said, I guarantee you that they will fight over each other to have the exclusive Sunday night network news interview with my mother. Go pick whoever you want and offer the first one the deal. If they say no, go to the next one, but you’ll deliver this. I went and I found a reporter, I think it was someone at CBS, and I offered him the deal—I said it just like Kennedy did. I offered it and he said, Are you asking me to distort journalism to put my career ahead and to get an exclusive interview? I said, I have no authorization of this from Senator Kennedy. This is Stuart Shapiro coming to you with this request, but if you’ll do it, I’ll get you a half an hour with Rose Kennedy on her 90th birthday. He looked at me and he smiled. He stuck out his hand and he said, It would be my pleasure. 

Heininger

But she looked great.

Shapiro

She came out in a produced spot on the evening news about her talking lovingly about her son and his Presidential bid, and how it was her dream. The interview itself had been pure gibberish. 

Heininger

Did you sit through the interview, when he was interviewing her?

Shapiro

Yes, or part of it. 

Heininger

Where did they get the words?

Shapiro

Oh, she used enough good words—

Heininger

She used enough good words that they could string it together. The miracles of editing.

Shapiro

I said to Kennedy—I remember, because this was part of that discussion—I said, Why would he do this? And Kennedy said, No one wants to see my mother look like a fool. 

Heininger

That’s right.

Shapiro

Later, after the interview, I asked the question, Why did you do that? He said, You know, Stuart, if you had asked me to do this straight, we would have given virtually the same editing, because no one wants to see Rose Kennedy as a bumbling idiot. It wouldn’t have been quite as produced, but it would have been close.

Heininger

That’s true.

Shapiro

But it was interesting, because it was an education for me to see how the big leagues played at the time.

Heininger

Well, and the power of the Kennedy name.

[BREAK]

Heininger

This is a resumption of the interview with Stuart Shapiro on May 15, 2009. What kind of contact have you maintained with Kennedy and his staff since you left?

Shapiro

It has diminished over time. I will get a call whenever—I don’t want to say whenever Kennedy is coming to town, but certainly most of the time, if he’s going to be here for X or Y, if I want to come, if it’s a fund-raiser or social event. I still get calls from him occasionally about a problem that needs solving, but that’s diminished over time. When there have been some complicated, cover-your-butt kind of issues, I’ve been called for either history, perspective, or help that may involve some complicated political stuff dealing with the past, not so much dealing with the present, but something from the past that I can be helpful in solving.

Heininger

Broader than just health?

Shapiro

Much broader than just health.

Heininger

Really?

Shapiro

I’ll give you a specific example that happened a long time ago. It’s more politics, or family/political stuff. I know the staff a little bit. Over Easter break, I was in Washington with my wife and kids and we took a tour of the Capitol. I stopped by Kennedy’s office because I wanted to show them Kennedy’s private office. So I go up to the kid at the desk—this was all unplanned—and said, Hi, I’m Stuart Shapiro. I used to be on the staff. I’d like to show my kids Kennedy’s private office with all the pictures. They were on recess, so it wasn’t as if he was there. The kid looked at me like, We get that request all the time. In fact, he said, I can’t let you into his private office. I’m only an intern. I said, Pick up the telephone. Call his chief of staff or his scheduling secretary. Tell them who it is and see if it’s okay. He got up from his desk and he went someplace and he came right back and said, They’ll let you in. So I’m obviously on some kind of list, but I’ve never met his chief of staff. I’ve talked to him a couple of times, and it was mostly about when Teddy got sick. The only one left on the staff from my days is Carey. Even Melody [Barnes], who I’m sure you’ve interviewed, has left. Is there anybody but Carey left?

Heininger

Barbara Souliotis is still in Boston. 

Shapiro

She called me a few months ago about something. Somebody who’s trying to write a book. She said, If he calls to interview you, please don’t. And call me. But outside of that, is there anybody?

Heininger

I can’t—was Kathy Kruse there when you were there? Or Connie Garner?

Shapiro

Connie had a different name, I think—

Heininger

Yes—

Shapiro

Connie [Constance] Lambert. Yes, she was there.

Heininger

And Kathy Kruse? She does arts issues?

Shapiro

No, but I’m clearly on a private list because I get e-mails from Vicki [Reggie Kennedy] periodically.

Heininger

Did you get one a couple weeks ago about him?

Shapiro

Yes.

Heininger

So you are on that e-mail list.

Shapiro

Yes, the Google list, the Gmail list. My guess is there are not six people on that, but there are not six hundred.

Heininger

I think that’s correct.

Shapiro

So I’m obviously on that list. And I’ve sent him a note or two at home, from which I’ve not heard back. I sent it to him at their Tracy Place—I think it’s Tracy Place, isn’t it, where they live?

Heininger

I can’t remember their address.

Shapiro

It’s something like that. But I don’t keep that close a contact. Now, to give you an example of the kind of thing I’ve done that’s broader than health care is when that book came out. I think I told you that story, how I got involved. It’s that kind of stuff. Or I’ll get a call—I don’t know this chief of staff, but I knew the previous one a little bit and I certainly knew Ranny [Cooper]—and I’d get calls asking, How do you want to deal with this? Can you give us some advice on how to deal with this?

Heininger

Well, Ranny is still very much involved too.

Shapiro

I was up for a high-level appointment by the previous President [George H. W.] Bush, and Kennedy was very helpful. I didn’t get it, and he felt terrible that I didn’t get it. He called me several times to go out of his way to say he was sorry he couldn’t deliver it. I stay in pretty good touch with Tony Podesta, and Tony’s still pretty close.

Heininger

So you’re on the update e-mail list. Were you at the gala?

Shapiro

I was at the party two or three years ago, where you had everybody from the 30s to the 40s to the 50s, the 60s. I didn’t go to the thing at the Kennedy Center. Is that the gala you mean?

Heininger

Yes. Well, it’s interesting that you morphed from—and maybe this is because of traveling on the plane—being the health staffer-physician into a broader political role too.

Shapiro

A somewhat broader political role. I’m clearly—in 1982, after I left, I was never that involved in the day-to-day politics the way Larry stayed, but I get called on periodically. I’m sure that list that I’m on is not gigantic, but it’s not tiny. Hence, it’s part of the reason, I’m sure, that I’m being interviewed. I mean, I’m somewhere in that middle, but it’s still pretty nice to be in that middle group. That’s the way I look at it.

Heininger

When you think about the number of people who have come and gone from that office, there’s still only a handful that are in this kitchen cabinet—

Shapiro

Right.

Heininger

There are more in this ring of people who are still—

Shapiro

Right, I’m probably in the middle of that ring: not outside it, not at the top of it.

Heininger

And there are a lot of people who never made it into any of that.

Shapiro

Right. I still stay friendly with a couple of people, with one guy in particular, and he clearly felt bad that he wasn’t interviewed. And he was on the health staff for four years.

Heininger

Who was that?

Shapiro

Bob Wenger, who was the counsel to the committee, to the staff. But a wonderful guy, lives in Washington.

Heininger

Well, let me tell you our list is large.

Shapiro

I’m sure.

Heininger

And we’re not done, so.…

Shapiro

Anything else you want today?

Heininger

I think that will do it. I really appreciate you taking the time.

Shapiro

It was my pleasure.

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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