…But the Dream Should Die – Why Ted Kennedy Should be the Last Kennedy Ever Elected – Joe Keohane

David Kennedy was 12 was his father was murdered. He had been sitting in a room at the Beverly Hills Hotel with Diane Broughton, one of Bobby Kennedy’s campaign aides, watching his father on TV address the crowd after beating Eugene McCarthy in the 1968 California presidential primary. Suddenly, the tone of the coverage shifted. The commentators started talking about a shooting. Broughton turned up the sound. "What happened?" David asked. Broughton said nothing happened, but already David knew, and he sat there staring at the screen, shaking in his blue suit. Eventually Broughton wrapped him in a blanket and held him. Days later, on the train carrying Bobby’s body to Arlington National Cemetery, David spent much of the trip with his head hanging out the window, buffeted by the wind.

A precocious, athletic, and sensitive kid, David had a hard time coping with the twin tragedies that befell his family. By the time he followed his brother Bobby Jr. to Harvard in 1973, the pair were deep into drugs. The only difference was Bobby could keep it together, while David quickly came apart. A run-in with a dirty needle landed him in Mass General in 1976, and he dropped out of Harvard soon after. His family labored to keep his problems under wraps, frequently sending him abroad, institutionalizing him, and subjecting him to experimental treatments. But when David was robbed in a Harlem junkie hotel in 1979, the word got out.

The family expected him to turn up dead sooner or later, yet David managed to live longer than anyone thought possible. He attributed this longevity to being shorn of any illusions about what it meant to be a Kennedy. In reality, he merely traded a crushing public burden for a crushing private one. He carried himself as something of a Shakespearean fool, shambling about, dispensing cold little bits of truth amid the usual junkie perma-babble. "My Uncle Jack and my father always used to quote that Englishman, ‘Politics is the noblest profession,’" he said, not long before fatally overdosing in 1984. "To me, politics is crap. That’s the main thing, maybe the only thing, I’ve learned in my life. America needs a rest from the Kennedys, and vice versa."

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  • Andrea

    not to put too fine a point on it but calling Joe2 smart would be a shock to the folks at UMass/Boston who had to give him credit for “life experience” to have an excuse for a degree, not unlike the Herodotus of Hyde Park, Tom Menino.