Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Contemplating the Kennedys

"For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die."

Edward Moore Kennedy
August 12, 1980

I feel bad for Patrick Kennedy. For reasons that I can't quite put into words, the poor guy never looked like he felt he belonged in the hallowed halls of congress. Given the fact that the place is chock full of nuts, crooks and mediocrities, it's no wonder he might have felt just a tad out-of-place. Although an obviously tormented man, there is much substance to be found there. Mitch McConnell he is not. Still, it's hard not to feel anything but compassion for the guy. As a person who has his own history of coming to terms with the bottle and all of its nasty little aftereffects, I can relate - big time.
It's an Irish thing.

This week, the right wing SCREAM MACHINE is beside itself with joy. It is in utter ecstasy by the very idea that there will be nary a Kennedy in Washington for the first time since 1947. And it's not just the Hate Radio types and FOX Noise that are beside themselves with joy. Millions of regular Americans - the very people who benefited so mightily by the laws and policies the Kennedys have have championed these sixty-plus years - are joining in the celebrations. Here's the real irony: A lot of these same people will, in due time, miss that family now that they're gone.

And they are all gone - or almost. Take a good look at the photograph at the top of this piece. Out of all of the members of that extraordinary family, only Jean survives (She is the little girl sitting at her father's feet). Of the nine children of Joseph and Rose Kennedy, four of them would die violently and young - two in airplane accidents, and two at the hands of misguided assassins. We all know the story so I won't depress you with the details. There is already too much to be depressed about this week.

It's no secret that the Brothers Kennedy were four flawed human beings - not unlike you and I. Of the three brothers who survived into middle age (or barely in the case of Jack and Bobby) it's a safe bet that not one of them would ever have been chosen Husband of the Year. And from what we are able to discern, Joe Junior was a reactionary waiting to happen. As a delegate at the Democratic National Convention in the summer of 1940, his was one of the few votes against a third term for Franklin Roosevelt. Maybe it's just as well that he is not the Kennedy we all remember. But human frailties aside, we can't forget that in most cases these guys - particularly Ted - were on the side of the angels.

Oh, and did I mention they were funny? Unlike most of the unintentionally funny politicians that fill the U.S. Capital today, those Kennedy brothers were genuine wits. My favorite JFK line of all time was when the Army football team (of which he was Commander-in-chief) was getting ready for a big game against the Catholic Trinity College (He was also our first Catholic president). When some smart alec reporter asked him who he was going to root for, the president answered without missing a beat, "Well, I'm going to root for Army and pray for Trinity." What can I tell you? Jack Kennedy was a frustrated comedian.

One of the perks of being Irish Catholic is that we get to refer to the late president as "Jack". No disrespect intended.

The Kennedy Era is within months of ending forever. Maybe that is as it should be. I imagine that had the dynasty of John Adams lasted into the twenty-first century they would be a boring annoyance by now. Early next year when Patrick Kennedy walks out of the House of Representatives for the last time as a legislator, It will be the end of an era that began when my late father was a senior in high school. This coming October 27 would have been his eightieth birthday. He campaigned hard for John F. Kennedy in 1960; was part of the welcoming committee that greeted the president when he arrived at Stewart Air Force base in Newburgh, NY on June 6, 1962. My family - uncles, aunts and cousins - were all Kennedy Democrats. When those two remarkable brothers were cut down within less than five years of one another, we Degans took the loss personally. Being Irish Catholics probably didn't help matters any.

No family in American history - not the Adams, not the Roosevelt, and certainly not the Bush family - paid a higher price in the cause of public service than did the Kennedy family. And to tell you the truth I'm getting sick and tired of hearing them kicked around. From listening to the half-witted cries of jubilation that are greeting the news of the end of the Kennedy presence in Washington, it is easy to conclude that there are a whole lot of people in this silly country who don't appreciate the Kennedy legacy. To listen to the way some of them are talking, you would think the Kennedys were some kind of organized crime family. The Irish Mafia!

I have said more times than I can count that I wish every law and program for which Ted Kennedy was responsible could be overturned just for one week. You'll see then how fast the people start to miss the old guy. History will be the final judge as to what kind of senator Edward Moore Kennedy really was. That he was not fully appreciated by his fellow countrymen and women during his lifetime is not a fluke of American history. Most of the greats were not given the credit they were due until long after their deaths. Posterity is the ultimate score keeper.

Tonight I'll be drinking a toast. I am Irish. That's our job. We drink toasts. So sue me! My toast tonight will be for all the members of that remarkable clan - living and dead. From old Ambassador Joe all the way down to the his youngest descendant.

A toast: That they all have found peace - in this world and the one beyond.
That the survivors are able to look back on their family's vital contribution to the last century and be proud of a unique and valuable legacy.

Someone once said:

"Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass....It's about learning to dance in the rain."

Here's to the
the Kennedy family! May they always be found dancing in the rain!

Tom Degan


Former vice-President J. Danforth Quayle announced to the press this week that his son Ben will be seeking a congressional seat from the state of Arizona.

We here are pleased and privileged to witness at this great moment in the history of our grand and glorious nation, the birth of the Quayle family political dynasty.

I need a drink.

For more recent articles in this trash bin of nasty LIBERAL propaganda, please go to the link below:

"The Rant" by Tom Degan



At 10:41 AM, Blogger Cher Duncombe said...

I am saddened by Patrick Kennedy leaving too. It is indeed the end of an era in which this family, even with its human flaws, inspired a nation.

Add to this the fact that Evan Bayh is leaving and it becomes a crunch in the hope for change. Both of these good people and now leaving the not-so-hallowed halls of Congress out of frustration and disillusions. It has become a sad time for America.

At 12:31 PM, Blogger Cirze said...

I miss him already.

Yes, a man with burdens to bear but they had borne them for us all for so long and had a true legacy of pride in their accomplishments: programs that benefitted the common citizens and inspired and ennobled us all.

I won't bother naming the Peace Corps, etc., etc., as I know you are working on a fine delineation of such.

Thanks for your fine efforts.


At 12:52 PM, Blogger Rain Trueax said...

It makes one wonder with whom Congress will be left. Evan Bayh might not have been perfect or as strong as some but he's another who really did want to do right and found he could not while in Congress. It doesn't give a person like me much hope for the future. Who is left who will want to run things with any real intentions to do good for the country and not just themselves. There is talk that Obama has decided to do what he thinks is right whether it costs him a second term or not. Too bad more Congress people don't think that way. I am afraid those who do are leaving :(

At 3:59 PM, Anonymous Freya said...

When I first read about Patrick leaving, I was saddened. But on second thought, I had to admire the man for following his heart.
I feel like our country is going to hell in a handbasket and it's happening FAST!
I doubt if Patrick stayed (or Bayh and the others that are retiring) would make any difference given the mindset of the Republicans and some Democrats; which is to block anything and everything that Obama wants to put through.
Why should Patrick sacrifice his quality of life for a bunch of morons? Only he knows what is in his heart and what he has to deal with on a daily basis.
I wish him well, and pray for our country's future--it looks real bleak from my perspective.

At 4:45 PM, Anonymous Sharon said...

The Kennedys will continue to serve the common good, one way or another. The way American politics is today, it's obvious that that is no longer the best route for anyone who wants to work for the common good, since half of Washington doesn't even believe in the "common good."

I, too, miss the Kennedy wit. I think Obama has the potential, based on what I've read about the meeting with the Republicans a couple of weeks ago. I'd love to see him stand up and do a weekly press conference, or even a monthly press conference, in the manner of JFK. Those of you too young to remember them can probably find examples on the web.

At 7:22 PM, Anonymous Bennett said...

Strange you should post this tonight. There was a documentary on the Kennedys last night on PBS and once again I felt overwhelming outrage and sadness that one of the most principled and dedicated persons ever to seek the Presidency was cut down so young. Bobby was the brightest light of America in those days, probably the last politician alive who wasn't for sale on some level. At least that's how it seemed.

To go from there to here has been a long and painful journey, filled with "what might have beens" painted against the backdrop of the rise of our Corporatist Oligarchy.

Thanks for the piece, long live Patrick Kennedy.

At 2:22 AM, Blogger Teeluck said...

I don't know yet...
There is another kennedy who has a radio show, that's Robert Kennedy's son, he might just do something later on...

At 8:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

When Rahmbo was calling fellow Dems "Fuckn Retards" a few weeks ago, no doubt Patches Kennedy was included.

Patches has accomplished nothing. Explain to me what he brought to RI. He referred to Coookley as Marsha when campaigning multiple times. Called the Brown campaign a "Joke". The shit I take on a daily basis has brought more to society than Patches.

Next Stops - Running the RMV or doing Ambien commercials.

Good riddance Patches and to the Kennedy’s!

Harry from Mass

At 11:36 AM, Blogger P M Prescott said...

Huffpo has a piece concerning an upcoming miniseries about the Kennedy's that is a right wing hatchet job. It's just not good enough to murder two of them, not they have to assassinate their character as well. Shame on the History Channel for airing this. The only problem with raising a fuss about it is that more people will watch it than if we remained silent.

At 3:24 PM, Blogger Darlene said...

Most women of my generation were in love with John F. Kennedy. He was the handsomest president to ever grace the oval office. And young Teddy was even more so.

Being born to wealth and privilege meant, to the Kennedy men, an obligation to fight for the 'little guy' and to right the wrongs wherever they found them. They carried a heavy burden.

Yes, they were flawed husbands and loved women as much as the women loved them. Who will cast the first stone? Being powerful attracts the opposite sex like flies to honey. Many men give in to temptation when the siren beckons. And for you Republicans I want to point out that your beloved Ronald Reagan was still married to Jane Wyman when he wooed Nancy.

Shame on The History Channel for running this biased show written by the most right wing Kennedy hater in the country.

I am sorry to see the end of the Kennedy dynasty, but I do not blame Patrick for leaving the toxic environment that poisons politics now.

At 4:46 PM, Anonymous Bennett said...

Harry from Mass,

Dude, you've got serious personal issues. Ugliness like yours causes cancer, and you are way overdue for a check up.

Just sayin.

At 5:41 PM, Blogger roseduncan said...

The end of an era? Yes. And it seems like everyone in Congress is running for the door. What a dysfunctional government we have, I don't know what to hope for anymore. Or really what to work for. It is disheartening.

At 7:31 PM, Blogger Shaw Kenawe said...

I live a few streets away from the house where Rose Kennedy was born, and just one street over from St. Stephen's, the church where she was baptised.

I'm surrounded by Kennedy memories, living here in Boston.

I saw Teddy's cortege pass by here on Hanover Street last August on its way to his funeral Mass.

I remember shaking hands with Teddy many times when he campaigned for senator.

I remember that horrible weekend in November when my parents cried for days as they watched the pictures on the black and white tv of Jack's funeral.

I remember my sister coming into my room on that June morning to tell me Bobby was dead. Shot. Like his brother.

The Kennedys are so intertwined with memories of my younger days, but even as we managed to get past the deaths of Jack and Bobby, we still had Teddy there to carry on the tradition.

I am very sad to see that era end.

They are a remarkable family--mostly I loved them because despite their human failings, they were able to bring out the best in us.

At 8:23 PM, Anonymous Beatrix said...

I encourage you to read the "Hill" piece on Patrick here:

Then read the comments. I am really fearful of what this country has spawned with the Glen Beck Right Wing Christian Teabagger Birther 9-12ers. They have been raised on hate.

At 10:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bennett, dude, therapists and doctors like you who judge someones personality on a post in a blog are cancers...

I have a physical in March and will let you know how it goes fella.

Just sayin....

Harry from Mass

At 12:52 AM, Anonymous Bennett said...

Shaw: Beautiful and tragic memories...

Harry: Glad you're on top of the physical checkup thing.

One can only "judge" based on the tenor and content of the comment.

You are what you write.

At 1:09 PM, Anonymous Love and Marriage Examiner said...

Thank you for your comment on my article "JFK's passionate love letters to 'the other woman' revealed (video)."

As for Patrick -- many RI residents never forgave him for using nearly $70,000 to defeat a man who knew and cared about his constituents, Jack Skeffington.

While many will not miss Patrick, per se, they will miss the end of a political dynasty.

Enjoy the toast. Have one for me, I'm Italian -- "Salute!"
Happiness/ Rita Watson

At 8:29 PM, Blogger commoncents said...

Thanks for Posting! Love your blog!!

Common Cents

ps. Link Exchange??

At 5:37 AM, Anonymous Term paper said...

It’s great to see good information being shared and also to see fresh, creative ideas that have never been done before.

At 2:15 PM, Blogger Schmoop said...

Are you for real?



At 2:39 PM, Blogger Tom Degan said...

Dear Matt-man....

I am for real. Yes sir.


Tom Degan

At 1:40 AM, Blogger Mildred Ratched said...

I've always been a Kennedy fan (I was born and raised in New England and am an Irish Catholic, also). Their individual flaws only made them more human...more accessible and in the long run, more powerful. No, not one of them would have ever been voted husband of the year, but the contributions both politically and in the private sector by the whole family has been immense. They were taught from an early age that they needed to use their wealth/power to help those less fortunate. They were taught to have the courage to stand up and do what they thought was right for the many. They were taught to look adversity in the face and persevere. Obviously, these were lessons well-learned and I believe the vast contributions have come from the heart. Yes, the price they have paid as a family has been more than most families could endure, but I believe that the Kennedy name will live on. Thi is not the end!

At 12:30 PM, Blogger Dearest Friend said...

Maybe this is a little strange but I think quoting John Lennon's song "God" may be fitting here: "The dream is over, what can I say? The dream is over, call it a day." One of my favorite photographs of the Kennedy Brothers (note the "Upper" case letters used - only other brothes who get that honor are the Marx Brothers!) is one in which Jack, Bobby and Teddy are all in tuxedos and all three are looking out into what may be a bright shining future smiling broadly. There's a closeness between the three of them that is obvious to the viewer.

Someone somewhere said that the Kennedy Brothers brought a youth and vitality to Washington that was severely lacking at that time.

I was just a three-month old baby on that fateful day in Dallas but my whole childhood was spent looking up to him. Bobby's campaign - Mom tells me I was fascinated by him - okay, I was 4 going on five - but what I remember of him is my mother dropping the phone on a warm day in June sobbing, "NOT AGAIN! NO! NOT AGAIN."

It wasn't until I was into my teen years that I had any clue of the private lives that were not equal to that innocent perception I held of them for so long. Yet somehow, my image of Ted survived the end of my innocence.

Tom, your comment about one week without all the programs and services that he helped push through the congress is spot on. That's what saved him...

A Washington without a Kennedy will indeed lose much of the idealism that made up certain aspects of American life.

Hopefully, there will be someone to pick up the gauntlet that was dropped last year by the "Last Lion" and Americans can rest easy that there is really someone actually fighting for them in Washington.


PS - Some members of the Adams Family were a bit of an annoyance even before the father of that great family died quietly in Quincy- and he realized it!

At 1:38 PM, Blogger Tom Degan said...

Dearest friend, Mary,

Keep your eyes on Senators Russ Feingold and Sherrod Brown. They are on our side.



At 5:26 PM, Blogger Dearest Friend said...

Let's hope so - and I wonder about our junior senator from Pennsylvania, Robert Casey Jr...he's young and a bit inexperienced but I think he may be one to watch too!


Think I'll go find a knight who's willing to "tilt" with a windmill or two...never know...those windmills can be defeated!

At 4:39 PM, Blogger FLCPA said...


Thank you for highlighting the enduring legacy of the Kennedys.

I was born in 1934 and grew up in an Irish Catholic family in North Quincy, only 4 miles from downtown Boston. I worked in Boston until 1968 when I was transferred to New York, and am now living in Florida.

I am an unrepentant Massachusetts Liberal and strangely a fiscal conservative, In our great country there are many things we should do for our people, but we should pay for them now and not expect our grandchildren to pay for them. I detest the borrow and spend fiscal “conservatives of the past thirty years and the Congresses that stole the huge Social Security and Medicare surplus piled up each year.

With that background it is easy to see what a profound effect the Kennedy legacy had on me.

As we went through the 1970’s and the “malaise” after 1976 our neocon friends knew they had Carter’s legacy overcome. They then turned their attention to the infidelities of Jack Kennedy especially with Marilyn Monroe. When asked my take on that “shameful dalliance” I shocked those critics by telling them my reaction was, “Way To Go Jack!!!” Understand that my generation was hopelessly in love with Marilyn Monroe while at the same time we were probably the last monogamous generation (I was married ten years before “The Pill” became available and condoms were not readily available).

At 4:30 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass....It's about learning to dance in the rain."

Or at least, if you can, learn to walk between the rain drops.



you warmed my little blue blooded heart.

At 12:14 AM, Blogger jerry said...

This is a great post. I just had one of the ‘Doh!’ moments and ran back to correct my own site before publishing my comment. You see my own comment form did not match what I’m about to advice. I get less comment than you, so never noticed any problem. I’ve changed it now anyway so here goes.

study abroad

At 3:20 PM, Blogger Cynthia said...

I just finished reading your blog after getting the link from the Huffington Post.

It's refreshing to read your articulate assessment of politics then and now. At the end of the blog the tribute to the Kennedy family was especially pleasing. I married a Kennedy from Boston in 1965, not of the famous Kennedys. Liberal until his death in 1994, my husband took a lot of grief for being an unabashed liberal in the era of Reagan and Bush, even during the Clinton presidency.

Thanks again, keep up the good fight, in Ted Kennedy's words "the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, ..."

At 3:29 PM, Blogger Tom Degan said...

Thank you, Cynthia! I do appreciate the kind words more that you know. I going to miss those Kennedys. I'm sure Ted and your husband are now raising the glass together.

Tom Degan

At 1:15 PM, Anonymous Dallas Political Buzz said...

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