Who cares anymore?

Over the years, I’ve gradually lost interest in the Kennedys. My sub-niche of boomers was a little behind the curve for full Kennedy worship — I was 10 when Bobby died — and so even though I remember them, I was a little young to be defined by them. The Kennedys of my formative years will always be the third-generation crowd of cousins, the heroin addicts, party boys/girls, earnest government functionaries and occasional congressfolk of the ’80s. That was the generation that proved no matter how remarkable, even great families have a distinct shelf life. The pluck and ambition that launched the dynasty gets bred out of the line, money and privilege and divorce take their toll, and finally you’re left with Michael Corleone at yet another family party, sneering at Fredo to control his wife. Or the Bush brothers — Neil, Jeb and George. Your choice.

This is not a bad thing, I’m happy to say. America is still very much a meritocracy, and the last thing we need is a royal family, as much as we’ve tried to make the Kennedys our very own.

I also understand that Edward Klein, despite his fancy-pants New York Times-heavy resume, has a stake in keeping the Kennedys on their pedestal, the better to squeeze another book out of them. Even keeping all this in mind, it was possible to read his account, in Vanity Fair, of the Kennedys in 2008-09, confronting the imminent death of Ted, etc., and nearly choke on a passage or three:

Soon a dozen or so members of the extended Kennedy family circle—the senator’s friends, aides, political associates, and hangers-on—were all crammed into the hospital room, and the atmosphere in his V.I.P. suite began to resemble that of an Irish wake or, perhaps more accurately, one of those medieval paintings that depict the death of a great prince. Should it come now, the senator’s death would not be sudden and violent, like those of his three brothers—Joe junior in a plane accident during World War II, Jack and Bobby at the hands of assassins. Rather, it would be like those “good deaths” during the Middle Ages, which were performed, in the words of the French historian Georges Duby, “as on a stage before many spectators, many auditors attentive to every gesture, to every word, eager for the dying man to show what he is worth.”

In that solemn setting, almost the first thing on everyone’s mind was who would lead the Kennedy family after the senator was gone.

The next time I’m in the hospital room of a gravely ill person, I’m going to have to remember this: I’m not in a hospital room, I’m in a medieval painting. That’s necessary, however, to set up the mind-reading second graf, where the assembled are not concerned about the health of the guy in the bed but the far more important matter of who will lead the Kennedy family after he is gone. I don’t know what’s involved with leading a family with 2,836 first cousins — maybe booking weekend use of the Hyannisport house — but then, I’m a pleb. When I visit someone in the hospital, I’m just in a hospital.

It gets better. After Caroline is presented with her uncle’s “dying wish” that she take over the Kennedy chair in the U.S. Senate, well, we know how that turned out:

“Caroline was humiliated; she had expected that the appointment would automatically be hers,” said the Kennedy-family adviser. “In her mind, it wasn’t just that it had been her uncle Robert’s Senate seat, or any other aspect of her legacy; it was that she is a constitutional scholar who has helped secure funding for the New York City school system, that she’s acted as an adviser to her uncle, and that she’s a star of the Democratic Party. It honestly never occurred to her that the seat wouldn’t be given to her immediately. When Governor Paterson failed to react, and made her wait, she seethed.”

Caroline called a number of Democratic power brokers in Washington and Albany, and during those calls she vented her rage. This was a side of Caroline that few people had ever seen, or even suspected. According to one veteran lawyer who spoke with her, Caroline sounded like the old Bobby Kennedy—loud, harsh, and grating. (Caroline Kennedy did not respond to a request for comment.)

Yes, it occurs to me that people talk in this account exactly the way they do in National Enquirer stories. I guess that’s another upside of not being a Kennedy: You don’t have “family advisers” who whisper in the ears of would-be court biographers.

The news that comes from this passage is that Caroline was eventually called back from the brink of loud/harsh/grating by her children, who sat her down and told her she was being a real bitch, thus proving that accusations of bitch-hood are still kryptonite to a certain sort of woman. I’m with Tina Fey, m’self: Bitches get things done. Bitch is the new black. But I suppose, if it proves to a Kennedy that they still live in the United States, it’s not such a bad thing.

The story ends with some silly detail about Ted wearing a hat. Yeesh. (And at this point I think we should save a few of our commenters the carpal-tunnel stress and say: Chappaquiddick, Chappaquiddick, Chappaquiddick. Drunk, drunk, drunk. Teddy, Teddy, Teddy. Stipulated!)

OK, then.

Speaking of politics and dynasties and cancer, I’m sure glad I’m not John Edwards at the moment. How sorry do I feel for him? Listen to the sound the world’s tiniest violin and its terribly sad song. Hell hath no fury, etc. Although you gotta love a woman who tells Oprah “it’s complicated” when asked if she loves her husband. Hell, yes, pretty boy.

As someone pointed out low in the comments yesterday, the CDC came to my rescue, advising schools to stop treating H1N1 like bubonic plague and go ahead and stay open. And so yesterday’s mini-break was all they got, and everyone went back today. May I just say: Whew. It wasn’t a wasted day — we went down to Mexicantown for Cinco de Mayo lunch and had a chat about why middle-school rumors about who actually had the swine flu are evil, counterproductive and most likely just plain wrong. Of course, stopping a middle-school rumor train is pretty much impossible, although it’s a pleasure to take them apart. “My sister knows definitely who it was.” Really? How? “Well, she’s pretty much sure. Because there’s this kid who was sick.” And so on.

OK, we’re at 1,000 words and 20 minutes to 10. Time to start the engines and try to have a productive day of it.

Posted at 9:53 am in Current events |

65 responses to “Who cares anymore?”

  1. brian stouder said on May 6, 2009 at 10:15 am

    On the extreme other end of the politcal/social spectrum in Washington, it has truly been LOTS of fun watching Rachel Maddow the past few evenings, as she deconstructs the morally bankrupt piece of human debris who is one of Alabama’s senators, and who is the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, and who will trigger a train-wreck when the fanciful GOP “rebranding” circus train derails at the upcoming Senate confirmation hearings for President Obama’s Supreme Court pick.

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  2. beb said on May 6, 2009 at 10:18 am

    The last time I was in a hospital room was the death of my mother-in-law. It was crowded with the entire family, and uncomfortable because there was nothing else to look at but the corpse and if you are of a morbid disposition, as I am, that’s pretty uncomfortable.

    I can imagine that it was a lot worse with the Kennedy’s since there was so much money and political connections and so on involved. Klein’s comparison to Kennedy’s hospital room to a medival painting of the death of a prince seems very apt. That this leads to the bitch-slapping of Caroline Kennedy is unfortunately.

    Like you, I am tired of political dynasties and whether Kennedy, Bush, Rommey or Clinton, would wuish they would all have the good grace to stop trying to follow in their father’s footprints.

    I still have a fondness for John Edwards. I think he would have been a better liberal president than Obama but that’s water under the bridge.

    My wife and daughter enjoy their days off when they go somewhere for lunch and have a chance for a one on one conversation, so your yesterday could only have been a good thing. Now back to school and all that homework.

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  3. nancy said on May 6, 2009 at 10:25 am

    I’d be interested in knowing how much money the Kennedys actually have anymore — it’s been a couple of generations since any of them were in big-money-making endeavors, and even a well-managed fortune can’t last forever, especially when it’s disbursed across so many large broods of heirs. That was one of the things about the Caroline story that bugged me — journalists kept talking about her “Kennedy millions,” while ignoring the fact that her fortune came from Aristotle Onassis, and in fact getting the big bux for her kids was one of the fights her mother had with the Greek in her divorce settlement. Given that her brother died young and childless, I expect she was his sole heir, too.

    Anyway, I don’t notice any other Kennedys living on Fifth Avenue.

    (Didn’t I just say I wasn’t interested in these people anymore? Yeah, thought so.)

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  4. LA Mary said on May 6, 2009 at 10:59 am

    A freind who had a summer job at an amusement park in Westchester County NY told me about a time when a large group of Kennedy cousins, probably Bobby’s kids as this was in the seventies, showed up at the park. They, as a group, cut in front of lines at all the rides, tossing around the “don’t you know who we are?” shit to anyone who objected. Charming. I also recall local restaurants having to sue Ethel to pay up tabs run up by the clan. Politics aside, they were pretty obnoxious.

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  5. Danny said on May 6, 2009 at 11:00 am

    I still have a fondness for John Edwards. I think he would have been a better liberal president than Obama but that’s water under the bridge.

    I wish you were kidding, but you are not.

    John Edwards is a straightup, bonified charlatan, jackass, weasel of a political opportunist. He doesn’t give a damn about anything that he says he cares about and like with most politicians, it’s all show, but here is the rub: His act is so easy to see through, it’s ridiculous.

    beb, please, do not vote. Ever. Again.


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  6. brian stouder said on May 6, 2009 at 11:03 am

    John Edwards is a straightup, bonified…

    I think Danny won the thread, right there

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  7. coozledad said on May 6, 2009 at 11:20 am

    I don’t get the obsession with royalty in this country. I thought we were supposed to look down on hereditary offices.
    That’s the biggest problem with DC. I wonder if the old Stuart monarchists had too big a hand in deciding the location of the capitol. Washington’s always been such a big fake jerk off “concept city” it reminds me of the shopping centers that they build to stand in for real towns now. New York’s the real capitol, for better or worse.
    DC sucks as a place mostly because of the ass kissing mentality, and its complete tone-deafness in decorum . The last time I was there I remember walking by some louche Republican bar where a bunch of Armani suited fatasses were ostentatiously smoking cigars. This was back in the days of “Cigar Aficianado”, a magazine founded exclusively for the delectation of loser pricks. That’s the core image I’ll always have of the place.
    The whole attitude sucks. NYC is, in my experience, a really friendly town: Crazy as shit, but basically friendly. I was shocked to discover that after visiting drab passive-aggressive hellholes like Richmond, Raleigh, DC and Charlotte.

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  8. jcburns said on May 6, 2009 at 11:22 am

    Heh, he said “bonified.” Heh. Heh.

    Okay, without my commenting on Edwards, is it safe to assume, Danny, that George W. came off to you as just as much of a charlatan, jackass, and a weasel of a political opportunist?

    Because if you say “no,” and start to go on about Bush’s integrity and sincerity and “realness,” I’ll have to shake my head and wonder what planet I’m on.

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  9. Linda said on May 6, 2009 at 11:43 am

    Sorry? If I saw John Edwards right now, I’d bitch slap him into another dimension. Only think if he had gotten the nomination, AND news of the affair broke loose. The guy in the White House would be the one who admitted he didn’t know much about economics. What an idiot, to think nobody would find out. The decision to go forward with a campaign after banging some Other Woman is the sort that politicians make when they think everybody else on earth is stupid.

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  10. Danny said on May 6, 2009 at 11:44 am

    Agreed Linda. And then there is this:

    Edwards channeling the words of an unborn baby girl, during a trial in 1985:

    Mr. Edwards told the jury: “She said at 3, `I’m fine.’ She said at 4, `I’m having a little trouble, but I’m doing O.K.’ Five, she said, `I’m having problems.’ At 5:30, she said, `I need out.’ “

    Edwards NOT channeling the words of an unborn baby who is about to be killed through the abominable partial birth abortion practice (which he supports):

    “Mr. Edwards, I’m doing fine. Ooopps, What’s this?!? Someone is trying to crush my skull and suck my brains out. Why do you support this and why are you deaf to my cries? I thought you cared. Eh, what’s that you say? Oh, I see, this wasn’t part of a lucrative, high-profile, medical malpractice case where you could garner a few million dollars and a lot of media attention to advance your career.”

    Game. Set. Match. Thanks for playing.

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  11. nancy said on May 6, 2009 at 11:47 am

    Danny, you’re now in Godwin’s Law territory. I beg you to let it drop.

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  12. Danny said on May 6, 2009 at 11:48 am

    Okay, I will.

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  13. brian stouder said on May 6, 2009 at 12:01 pm

    FerGIT that dadblamed Godwin feller; after th’ way ol’ Dwight got his ass handed to him yesterdee by th’ proprietress in these parts, I’d be concerned ’bout stayin’ on the’ right side a’ Nance’s Law, my ownself!

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  14. alex said on May 6, 2009 at 12:03 pm

    Bonified. Is that the masculine counterpart to pussified?

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  15. Sue said on May 6, 2009 at 12:06 pm

    I still like reading about political dynasties, especially the studies of the women involved. Almost all of them were behind-the-scenes powerhouses and generally more stable and forward-thinking than the men they supported and got elected. The history books can give all the space to poor, mistreated Eleanor Roosevelt; I’ll take Edith any day.

    I doubt the Kennedys have had an Irish wake in decades. Does the author even know what that means?
    Anyone remember this scene from The Birdcage?:
    Waiter: Armand, the Kennedys are here again for supper, third time this week, you want to pick up their tab?
    Armand: Ted?
    Waiter: No, just the younger ones.
    Armand: Wish we could get Ted. Give ’em a free round of coffee.

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  16. Jolene said on May 6, 2009 at 12:12 pm

    I can just barely imagine why Elizabeth Edwards has stayed with John, but, for the life of me, I cannot imagine why she would want to go on television and talk about all this. I heard a smart WaPo reporter say on TV that Elizabeth’s new book and TV appearances are about not wanting to be a victim, but I dunno. I think I’d find another way to not be a victim.

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  17. moe99 said on May 6, 2009 at 12:19 pm

    As someone who supported her husband through graduate school for 12 years (it was why we moved to Seattle from DC)and as someone whose own family financially supported said husband’s first run for public office in 1998, only to be told that by said husband in Jan. 1999, the day after he was sworn into office, that he wanted a divorce and no there was no one else. Who then a month later discovered undeleted graphic email in the family computer addressed to the woman who supposedly did not exist. And whose divorce became final in Oct. of 1999.

    And whose former husband is now the recently elected Treasurer of the state of Washington (courtesy of his very wealthy girlfriend).

    All I can say to Elizabeth Edwards is: “You go grrl!!!!”

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  18. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on May 6, 2009 at 12:24 pm

    Dashing in, about to dash out — Coozledad, i’m with you right down the line. L’Enfant was an urban planner, and that’s not phrase i use much as a compliment. The idea of DC as a proto-“town center” with all the frailties those shopping experiences carry, independent of the political surreality, is really interesting (wait, after the Cokie piece, i don’t feel right saying that). I’ve only had three NYC experiences, each about three nights apiece, but the overall friendliness was overwhelming. Better than Chicago, and i tend to be very defensive of Chicago as God’s own ideal for the Holy City.

    The whole inherited role/office/position thing bugs me like termites, especially in church life — WTF? (That would be “where’s the faith?”) Roberts’ and Schullers’ and Osteens’ stories should make it clear that this is a baaaad thing.

    But i do think George W. was particularly bad at pretending to be anyone else than who he is, and got mocked for that lack on top of being mocked for the scion that he was and is. I can’t insult Edwards for being either a scion or bad at pretending to be someone he isn’t; make of that what you will.

    And a guess on Elizabeth Edwards — she’s dying, and knows that she only knows the half of what’s been going on with Hair-do (and my sincerest sympathies to Moe, for whom this must be uniquely excruciating to listen to in the national media). I’m thinking she’s piling up with the book and appearances enough to create a trust fund for her kids, at least the 11 and 9 year old one (since the older girl is out and on her own, almost 30), because at minimum it’s very clear that Breck-boy has and will “father” more children, and his assets are going to be spread like butter on a Depression-era grandfather’s toast.

    She’s seeing to her younger kids while she can, to prepare for the day when she can’t. Praying for her is easy; praying for her “it’s complicated” fellow is almost unimaginable.

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  19. jeff borden said on May 6, 2009 at 12:40 pm

    As someone who has lived in Chicago, Illinois for the past 20 years, I believe I am something of an expert on family political dynasties and I will tell you they stink.

    Richard M., son of Richard J. Daley, has done a decent enough job of making Chicago a better place to live, but his arrogance, stubborness and pettiness have blossomed as his mayoral power has grown.

    Todd, son of John Stroger, is the president of Cook County, which may be the most disfunctional public body in America. He has hired dozens of cousins and friends to six-figure jobs. Thanks to Todd, I live in the county with the highest taxes in America.

    Rod Blagojevich, son-in-law of Dick Mell, Chicago City Council power broker, used his in-laws as his first step into power. Mell’s daughter is a state representative and the only one not to vote for Blago’s impeachment. Blago has done enormous damage to the state’s finances and his lengthy trial will set us back more millions.

    Jesse Jackson Jr., son of “Jetstream Jesse,” owes his Congressional seat to the power his father wields.

    Sandi Jackson, wife of Jesse Jr., owes her City Council seat to her husband and father-in-law.

    It goes on and on and on. Some of these people are fairly decent public servants. While I have soured greatly on Daley, there is no doubt he is responsible for the city’s renaissance. And Jesse Jr. has proven to be a good congressman, though his involvement in Blago’s schemes may yet taint him.

    But this idea of politics as a family business bothers me and was one of the largest motivators for me to oppose Hillary Clinton.

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  20. Sue said on May 6, 2009 at 12:44 pm

    I think Elizabeth Edwards is doing this to provide some cash for her kids, and probably has their blessing. Putting the finishing touches on the destruction of her husband’s career is just an added bonus.
    She is not the first political spouse to find out that there actually is an “I” in “team”.

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  21. nancy said on May 6, 2009 at 12:44 pm

    Jeff, I could swap a few names and places in your post and get a pretty accurate description of Detroit and Wayne County, as well. In fact, I’d say both would give you a run for the most dysfunctional public body in America.

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  22. jeff borden said on May 6, 2009 at 12:57 pm

    Nancy, you may well be correct. It would be funny to send some of our knuckleheads to Motown and let you send some of yours to Chicago. You know, like exchange students, except they’d be stupid elected officials and probably no one would want them to stay in their spare bedroom, lol.

    I gather that Bristol Palin made an appearance on “The Today Show,” accompanied by baby Tripp, where she opined on the honor and the glory that is abstinence as birth control. She also said teen motherhood is “really hard.” Is it wise to send out a teen mother to argue in favor of abstinence, when she so clearly did not abstain? Aren’t there other legitimate virgins who could speak to this? Isn’t one of the attractions of the Jonas Brothers their public virginity? Or should I be more cynical and think that this is, once again, all about Sarah Palin and keeping her name in the spotlight?

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  23. Jolene said on May 6, 2009 at 1:00 pm

    Cash for her kids? John Edwards is worth more than $150,000,000. Even if they were to get divorced, there is more than enough money in that kitty to ensure that the children would be cared for until well after they are able to fend for themselves, and I’m pretty sure that any court would require him to do that.

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  24. Scout said on May 6, 2009 at 1:11 pm

    I was an early Edwards supporter and every day I thank the deities that we dodged that bullet. His nomination would have put McCain in the White House as sure as shite the Clinton BJ saddled us with Bush. If Elizabeth’s book tour puts the final nail in the hair helmet’s political coffin it will have been worth it. She’s doing the public a service.

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  25. Jean S said on May 6, 2009 at 1:19 pm

    Edwards has a lot of money at the moment, but things are getting interesting … I’m with the “Elizabeth is taking care of the kids” argument. (Along with the revenge angle, of course.)

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  26. mark said on May 6, 2009 at 1:34 pm

    Jolene is right on the money issue. Divorce is the quickest, most lucrative route to enough cash to set the kids up in their own 28,000 square foot mansions.

    While I’m not as enamored of all things “bitch” as our hostess, Elizabeth E performed the role admirably. What I saw was revenge by a woman who finally realizes her husband thinks he has been saddled with someone who is not nearly so pretty and talented as he thinks he is.

    Sage advice for young daughters: Beware shallow men. Run like hell from shallow men who are prettier than you are.

    I see Hillary has apologized for our most recent misplaced bombing, and did so without blaming Cheney or Bush. A new era dawns..

    And is everyone here still convinced that the departure of Arlen Specter is a stain upon the GOP, or is there some sense that perhaps he is just a selfish and somewhat addled old man? The departure of some inmates will improve even the worst asylum.

    What’s up with the cloak of secrecy on the shots of Air Force One buzzing Manhattan? And will government now be subsidizing the non-production of ethanol, since the science that previously said it was more green than oil now says it isn’t? I heard Wesley Clark on the radio this morning shilling to save ‘big ethanol’, so perhaps nobody has declared “the debate is over.”

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  27. del said on May 6, 2009 at 1:46 pm

    I agree with Jolene and Scout.

    Here in Detroit NBA hall-of-famer Dave Bing won the mayorship in yesterday’s election. And how did the unseated incumbent mayor (of a political mini-dynasty) respond? According to today’s Detroit News, he challenged Bing thusly:

    “Hang out with the brothers in front of the liquor store, drinking 40s out of paper bags…Get to know that. Get to know and understand the people you’ll be representing.”

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  28. Jolene said on May 6, 2009 at 1:47 pm

    I don’t know if Specter is addled, but he’s certainly selfish. The language he used to describe his party-switch was beyond offensive. “I will not subject my 29-year Senate record to the judgment of the Pennsylvania primary electorate.”

    Anyone setting up shop as a politician tries to pick his or her voters, but dissing the voters you’ve purported to represent for thirty years is outrageous–not to mention the implicit statement that you deserve your Senate seat just because you’re so wonderfully you.

    The Republican party is killing itself by turning against candidates like Specter who make (mainly) reasonable judgments on issues, but his arrogance is so over the top that few are likely to see his departure as a cause for self-examination.

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  29. Dorothy said on May 6, 2009 at 1:57 pm

    Maybe Elizabeth doesn’t want any of Mr. Breck’s money (good one, Jeff-TMMO); I was thinking along the same lines – that she is hoping to remain financially independent for her kids when she’s no longer here to provide for them. Or maybe she thinks he’d not provide for them and she’s seeing to that. Either way it’s just a sad, sloppy story and it can’t be easy for her to air all that dirty laundry in public, along with trying to live with cancer with as much dignity as she can.

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  30. alex said on May 6, 2009 at 2:06 pm

    “I will not subject my 29-year Senate record to the judgment of the Pennsylvania primary electorate.”

    It’s a different Republican electorate than it was in the past, so it’s not really an offensive remark. The folks calling Specter a RINO or worse don’t really deserve any deference and I’m glad to see Specter didn’t give it to them.

    As for whether Specter’s motivations are self-serving, no shit, Sherlock. His detractors seem to think that raising this point somehow deflects attention from the fact that the party organization has been taken over by freaks. It doesn’t seem to be working.

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  31. mark said on May 6, 2009 at 2:12 pm


    You give hope to all shallow good-looking men everywhere. “Yes, dear, I know I’ve betrayed and humiliated you and our family, but please don’t prove your independence by
    walking away from the vast wealth we have accumulated together. That would be more than I can bear.”

    She never lost her dignity, he did. If she decides to give up 75 million to spite him, she’s lost her sanity.

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  32. moe99 said on May 6, 2009 at 2:15 pm

    I agree with you Elizabeth as to Ms. Edwards perhaps wants to leave something to her children that is her own and not rely on the continued good will of her husband.

    From personal experience, the ex was fairly reasonable at the time of the divorce wrt splitting the proceeds from an 18 year marriage with the exception that I was given no credit for the 12 years worth of grad school support. But when it came time to renegotiate child support, after he had acquired his rich girlfriend, she loaned him her attorney and I had to give up after blowing through $5,000 of my attorney’s time–and this was just to renegotiate child support.

    If John Edwards has $150 million, he would not be a pushover in any divorce proceeding, particularly as he has no career left in the public sector to worry about.

    I think Elizabeth Edwards has tried to chart a course for herself that leaves her some dignity and allows for her to provide for her children, and that has to be rewarding for her personally.

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  33. mark said on May 6, 2009 at 2:27 pm

    Stay away from divorce law, moe. John Edwards doesn’t have 150 million. Under North Carolina law, John Edwards and Elizabeth Edwards have 150 million, subject to a presumptive 50-50 split. Plenty of money for good lawyers for both sides.

    Rich men that cheat on their wives pray that the women they abuse will preserve their dignity by giving up their property.

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  34. Jolene said on May 6, 2009 at 2:44 pm

    It’s a different Republican electorate than it was in the past, so it’s not really an offensive remark. The folks calling Specter a RINO or worse don’t really deserve any deference and I’m glad to see Specter didn’t give it to them.

    As for whether Specter’s motivations are self-serving, no shit, Sherlock. His detractors seem to think that raising this point somehow deflects attention from the fact that the party organization has been taken over by freaks. It doesn’t seem to be working.

    I know all this, alex, but someone less impressed w/ himself might have said something along the lines of, “The Republican party has taken a turn in a direction that I don’t believe is good for the country and, most important, for the people of Pennsylvania, whom I’ve tried my best to serve for nearly thirty years. The truth of that statement is borne out by what happened in my last election, where I was nearly defeated in the primary but won handily in the general, and in other elections throughout the country. It would be easy for me to retire, but I believe I can still be an effective senator for Pennsylvania and I have goals that I want to pursue, such as expanding support for medical research, that are important to the country as a whole. If, as the opinion polls indicate, I cannot do those things as a Republican, I will strive to do them as a Democrat.”

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  35. Sue said on May 6, 2009 at 2:58 pm

    Apparently Specter has released a statement:
    “Senator Reid assured me that I would keep my committee assignments and that I would have the same seniority as if I had been elected as a Democrat in 1980. It was understood that the issue of subcommittee chairmanships would not be decided until after the 2010 election. Some members of the caucus have raised concerns about my seniority, so the caucus will vote on my seniority at the same time subcommittee chairmanships are confirmed after the 2010 election. I am confident my seniority will be maintained under the arrangement I worked out with Senator Reid. I am eager to continue my work with my colleagues on the various committees on which I serve and will continue to be a staunch and effective advocate for Pennsylvania’s and the Nation’s priorities.”
    Given Specter’s behavior the last few days, this is shaping up to be a big misstep by the Democratic leadership. I noted a few days ago that I thought the dems were way too anxious to see this happen. Two of the senators who will take a seniority hit on this are from Wisconsin. Now I’d really like to see a challenge.

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  36. alex said on May 6, 2009 at 3:03 pm

    That would have been a more gracious way of saying it, Jolene. But I’m glad he took the low road.

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  37. moe99 said on May 6, 2009 at 3:06 pm

    mark, too late–I’ve been involved in divorce law through my own,and in pro bono work a while ago, and Washington state is a community property state. This was something I had to study to pass the bar as I had attended law school in a non community property law state.

    You ever gone through your own divorce, mark? It’s not very fun, particularly if you have young kids. And if you are in the late stages of breast cancer, I can see where one might want to avoid the additional stresses engendered by the process.

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  38. beb said on May 6, 2009 at 3:13 pm

    I didn’t realize that I was kicking a hornet’s nest when I expressed my feeling about John Edwards. Sorry.

    The idea, though, that if Edwards had been the candidate and news of his affair had come out it would have saddled us with McCain is highly questionable. This totally ignores how deranged McCain’s campaign had been before the Republican convention and how totally deranged it became after the annointment of Sarah Palin. McCain-Palin was an absolute train wreck. It would have had to take somethine a lot worse than an affair to derail adem victory. One might well remember that Pres. Clinton continued to have high approval rating all through his impreachment trial, and that the serial adultries of Rudy Guilani, John McCain and Newt Gingrich has never derailed their political careers, adultries that make Edwards’ seem tame in comparison.

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  39. brian stouder said on May 6, 2009 at 3:37 pm

    but beb, we now know that if pretty-boy had somehow won the nomination, then we’d now have the frying pan (McCain) or the fire (Edwards).

    If Edwards did all the exact same things that President Obama has done thus far, and drew all the same “party of NO” unthinking, reflexive, reactionary and vituperative attacks from the right wing chest-thumpers – only the sons of bitches would have the petina of making at least one salient point (that President Edwards was a low-life, lying heel) – and people who would otherwise defend the Democratic president would be more sullen than staunch; Edwards’ new presidency would have cratered in the first 100 days, and even-handed people would venture the idea that he should resign.

    Just the THOUGHT of the smoldering wreckage that would have been the Edwards presidency is enough to make me shudder!

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  40. Danny said on May 6, 2009 at 3:51 pm

    Me too. But with side-splitting laughter.

    EDIT: Actually, it wouldn’t have been funny at all. It would have damaged the nation severely. It’s just hard not to be bemused by some of the apologists around here.

    Hey, JC and beb, isn’t about time you uttered Haliburton, Cheney or some other tired, misdirected indictment?

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  41. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on May 6, 2009 at 3:51 pm

    You can ask the Kennedy family how long it takes to burn through $150 million. But when you divide it three ways, then four ways, then six or seven ways, along with mildly high living (Beverly Hills Hilton, etc.) and more paramours and settlements for their support, i can see where Elizabeth is thinking Emma and the younger boy (Jack?) could end up with squat before they’re married in another ten years.

    She strikes me as a profoundly practical woman; what’s sad is that people (HuffPo, Salon) are taking shots at her for enabling fundraising after she knew, should have known, might have known. This kind of thing doesn’t hit you all at once in a blinding flash of realization — it’s more like slowly taking an overdue dressing off of a surgical scar. No, i haven’t been there, but walked alongside of more than a few coming to terms with betrayal that turns out to have gone back even before things began.

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  42. ROgirl said on May 6, 2009 at 3:53 pm

    I’ve noticed in more than one article about Elizabeth Edwards she is referred to as “terminally ill.” The fact that it’s in print like that is terribly sad, and perhaps it explains why she didn’t file for divorce and has put as much of her story as she can bear on the record.

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  43. John said on May 6, 2009 at 3:57 pm

    The only thing scarier than Brian’s portrayal of an Edwards’ presidential controversy, would be the Gore firestorm in the wake of two dropped skyscrapers.

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  44. Julia said on May 6, 2009 at 5:04 pm

    Funny Ed Klein’s legendary Times-heavy CV doesn’t mention his prestigious stint as the anonymous author of Walter Scott’s Personality Parade for Parade magazine, even though it was far more recent and, I believe, lasted considerably longer. It was certainly more closely related to his current career of content-lite ghoulish Kennedy stalking.

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  45. LA Mary said on May 6, 2009 at 5:08 pm

    Danny, accusing McCain, Gingrich and Giuliani of infidelity is hardly misdirected. They’re all tail chasers. There aren’t any love babies around to embody the shame. Maybe it’s the pretty boy thing. None of them qualify.

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  46. Sue said on May 6, 2009 at 5:23 pm

    Actually, LAMary, if you are to believe Karl Rove and the voters of South Carolina, McCain did have a love baby. A black one. Given what a talented dirty trickster can do with a lie, much less the truth, and given that McCain hired those very same tricksters (minus Rove) to help in his campaign, this issue could easily have cost the Democrats everything if Edwards was the candidate.

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  47. LA Mary said on May 6, 2009 at 6:10 pm

    I don’t think it would have taken a Karl Rove to go after Edwards on this. It would have come out quickly and been a bad mess, no doubt.

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  48. caliban said on May 6, 2009 at 6:50 pm

    There’s a good reason to care about the Kennedys. Somehow, we have been presented with Kennedys and Bush’es. Patriarchs? Rum-runner vs. Nazi-sympathizer and war profiteer. War-profiteer vs. rumrunner? I’ll take the well-intentioned miscreant with the intelligent progeny.

    This might have been the American 2oth Century if it weren’t for murders and abberrations like Reagan. A Kennedy died flying the Channel. Kennedy’s didn’t believe they were removed from the equation, when they could easily have pointed out better things to do with their time.

    Kerry isn’t a Kennedy, but, well, of course he is, and the Swift=Bpat shit in the face of W going AWOL is so outrageous, it shames Americans.

    These chicken wienies attacked Kerrry. Shit. Kerry is loathe to draw ttention to his Riverine experience, but he saved one guy’s life. That’s a fact.

    Kerry grew up thinking Kennedys were heroic. Jack was. I could swim that far with a coconut, but how many people could?

    Kerry in Laos or Cambodia? It’s not much like like Olly and Guatemala.

    So, Nancy, bored by the Kennedys? How about the PNAC and how the Cheney Stovepipe attacked the Constitution.

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  49. caliban said on May 6, 2009 at 6:54 pm

    What does Edwards have to so with anything? Didhe decide it was OK to torture people? With regard to KSM, where exactly is his family right now? His family was seized immediately. SWhere are they now?

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  50. 4dbirds said on May 6, 2009 at 7:19 pm

    “spread like butter on a Depression-era grandfather’s toast.”

    My mother says that in school the really poor kids ate lard sandwiches for their lunch. Butter was for the ‘rich’ families.

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  51. caliban said on May 6, 2009 at 7:23 pm

    Everybody thought it was OK . W won. ?? The fuck he won. Anybody with a brain knew this was stolen. Kerry said it was a police consideration. Mo shit.

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  52. brian stouder said on May 6, 2009 at 8:53 pm

    Well, Caliban – I will do what I advise our fine young folks to do when they engage in a contentious discussion (that is – not to repeat their arguments in an endless loop), and voice a contrary opinion, and then yield the floor to you, and you can have the last word if you wish.

    In 2000, Al Gore won more votes than GW Bush – but he lost the electoral vote. Florida was gamed by both campaigns, and whoever won there was never going to convince the other side that they “really” won. In 10,000,000 votes, if the split is only 300 away from a perfectly even tie, no mortal can know who “really” won, or who “should” have won.

    I agree with moe (et al) that the Supreme Court of the United States should have stayed entirely OUT of the matter.

    IN my opinion, the United States House of Representatives (then Republican controlled with the forgettable Speaker Dennis Hastert) neglected their institutional prerogatives (and/or shirked their Constitutional responsibility) and allowed the Judiciary branch to get THEIR hands dirty, when the election SHOULD have gone to the House for resolution. (One supposes that when they write the history books about the turn of the 20th century into the 21st, that a key theme will be the absolute sorry-assed failure of the Republican-lead Legislative branch, with the hung Presidential election of 2000 a direct precurser to the congressional abdication of their War Powers and oversight responsibilities beginning in 2002)

    But note: if the 2000 presidential election had gone to the House, absolutely anyone could have become President of the United States. GWB probably would have still won, but who knows? It could have ended up being President Cheney or President Lieberman….

    And in 2004, GWB clearly won the popular vote, despite inaccurate exit polling that day. Not for nothing, I will confess that I voted for GWB in 2004, although I was not comfortable with him – and might have lied to a pollster if I’d have been asked right after doing the deed (Katrina finally and forever pushed me into becoming a money-contributing, declared Democrat)

    John Kerry looked really, really good to me in ’04, but he was talking about MORE troops in Iraq, while GWB was talking about keeping the numbers down…and I bought that!! Kerry was the better man, but I didn’t see that then.

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  53. beb said on May 6, 2009 at 9:22 pm

    Actually, Brian Stouder, as we have seen in Minnesota, it is possible to know who won if people are willing to take the time and examine ballots closely. In Florida in 2000 were were thousands of ballots rejected because the votes had both punched in their choice and written in their choice in the write-in space provided. When examined by the press after the Supreme Court decision is was found that Gore overwhelmingly was the choice of these voters since they both punched his slot and wrote in his name. There was enough of these disputed voted to clearly make Gore the winner.

    As for the 2004 election: when exit polling deviates from reported vote totals always – always – suspect the reported poll numbers. Exit polling is a science that has been refined through years of elections. And the polling in 2004 tended to accurately predict lesser races even while missing the presidential race. All of that points to the polling being accurate, and the vote totals were hijacked.

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  54. Catherine said on May 6, 2009 at 9:23 pm

    wow, what a great thread today. sorry I was in meetings!

    Linda, you’re not going to get a chance to bitch slap Breck boy, because I’m going to get there first. I’m with everyone who says she’s doing it 1) to provide for her kids, and 2) for revenge. We may also be missing a very important piece: child custody. Don’t know the law outside of CA, but here there is virtually no custody arrangement that is not 50/50. If she divorced that asshat in CA, she’d see 50% less of her kids — even if that meant they were with a nanny — if he chose to take his full 50%. I have had many friends come to grief over this, not to mention burning thru $00000s.

    Last: I’m actually in NYC, and although it may very well be the center of the world/solar system/universe, and yes the people are nice, BOY are they anxious right now! Someone, please put some zoloft in that famously pure and delicious municipal water supply.

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  55. alex said on May 6, 2009 at 9:55 pm

    I always found New Yorkers to be particularly nice, always eager to help. I remember going there during my college years and trying to get a cab from LaGuardia to a friend’s house in Brooklyn. A nice young yuppie couple offered to take me for free, then lectured me during the entire trip about how stupid I was to have gotten into a car with strangers. Brand-new Saab. Multigenerational mullatoes who could have been the children of Lena Horne and some white guy. I thought I sized them up pretty damn well myself. They lived barely a block from where I was staying; my friend’s house eventually became Spike Lee’s and he made a handsome profit. At the time Spike lived next door in a lesser dwelling.

    Chicago, where I ended up living after college, always had a certain arm’s length decorum. It was a friendly enough place, although the low-rent stupids were as ardently liberal as Indiana’s right-wing fools. It’s from this experience that I realized neither party has a monopoly on wisdom but both are masters of manipulation. In any case, I think Chicago has a certain midwestern sensibility of distrust that you don’t see elsewhere.

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  56. Dexter said on May 7, 2009 at 12:48 am

    While some accounts reveal that Jacqueline Kennedy got $26 mil in an agreement bargain with Christina Onassis , I remember reading that Jackie got $2 mil, and it took shrewd investments by her New York real estate tycoon friend , whose name escapes me, to boost the two million to $20,000,000, and she doubled that in the intervening years with careful investments in the market. She left her estate about $45 million. New York baseball stars make that in two years.

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  57. caliban said on May 7, 2009 at 1:03 am

    If somebody wants to point fingers, and somebody should. It’s the bunker:


    Xgebet kiked the entire idea of torture. It all makes sense. He had better things to do, like making Kerry out to be a wimp when Kerry servec and these assholes didn’t, and parading as a manly man when he was a xcum-sucking coward..

    You can cut and paste anything you like on what really happened. W bailed. Kerry served. Danny Casolaro knew scumbags like Ollie North murdered people for cash. Ronald Raygun was the patron saint of the School of the Americas. Tell you what. It was alright for SOA thugs to rape and murder Maryknoll nuns because it waas OK with Ronald Reagan, because Ollie North said they were seditionists. Now that shitheel is making big bucks.

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  58. caliban said on May 7, 2009 at 1:43 am


    Don’t be an asshole. Jacqi caught brain matter so making her out to be a gold-diggrt is fucking moronic.. If you think you can presume, let me disabuse you of that Bono-lke feeling. I was eleven, and I saw Oswald murdered right when it happened. I was making pancakes, because somebody had to geed my brp5thers and mu mom and dad wete poleaxed, because we thpught there was hope and it seemed to be snatched away.

    Jack Kennedy was important. Eight years of Scalia-enforced stupidity ends with sensible and measured thought. Tell you what. It was PNAC and stovepipe and torture. It’s intelligence and hemanity now. If you think that’s a bad thing, fuck you.

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  59. Dexter said on May 7, 2009 at 2:31 am

    What the fuck is a gold-diggrt? …”hemanity”?
    You are ranting and venting at me for posting thoughts on Jacqueline’s financial dealings after the death of Aristotle Onassis?

    Bono-Ike? Some alliance between Eisenhower and Bono? New one to me.

    I watched a black and white Motorola screen just as Oswald was shot, too…saw it live, staring me in the face on November 24, 1963.
    I take great offense at your telling me to be fucked because you seem to think I approved of anything done in the name of the USA under Bush43.

    I fell for the whole Camelot thing as a teenager and November 1963 changed my life forever. I still have my big book, “The Torch is Passed”, too.
    I campaigned for LBJ in 1964 , too, and served in his war , but under Nixon’s iron rule , as a draftee, and I didn’t like it.
    I stood staring at what little I could see of the Kennedy compound reflecting on all this , and that was 36 years ago, on a vacation to Massachusetts.
    Point is, I never attacked the Kennedys at all, I just commented , on-topic, about Jackie, post-Ari.

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  60. brian stouder said on May 7, 2009 at 9:12 am

    I still have my big book, “The Torch is Passed”, too.

    My mom still has that big book, too; she’s had it as long as I can remember, and when (as a little feller) I would look at it, mom and dad would hover a little, and get misty-eyed.

    By way of saying, I sort of see (or have seen) the Kennedy mystique, but I never felt it; and our kids never saw it.

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  61. moe99 said on May 7, 2009 at 9:33 am

    My parents were old school Republicans, of the type that were endemic around NW Ohio in the ’60s. In fact my mother voted her party over her Catholic religion in the 1960 election. Although they did get my younger sister a Caroline Kennedy doll as a Christmas present the next year. Go figure.

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  62. brian stouder said on May 7, 2009 at 9:58 am

    My dad was always an ‘R’, and my mom was always a ‘D’; in fact she was a volunteer and a precinct captain and door-to-door voter-registration person, back in the day. (come to think of it, she was almost a ‘community organizer’/ACORN type!)

    But dad was a Navy guy (USS Oriskany, CVA-34; he was aboard when the ship appeared in the William Holden/Mickey Rooney movie The Bridge at Toko Ri [in which the ship was called the USS Savo Island!]) and JFK was therefore his man, all the way!

    I don’t know whether mom and dad ever voted for the same president again, after 1964

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  63. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on May 7, 2009 at 11:08 am

    Brian — friend of mine served on the Oriskany, and is delighted that it now serves as an artificial reef off the Florida coast.

    I just figured out that “Xgebet” is a “lost the home row” for Cheney. Fascinating.

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  64. brian stouder said on May 7, 2009 at 11:36 am

    That (the sinking of the Oriskany) made for a fascinating show on – was it A&E? When RWR first assumed the presidency, and all the talk was about a 600-ship Navy, there was talk of recommissioning the USS Oriskany, which got dad’s attention! But, it never happened, and in any case dad died in 1983. His reaction to seeing her burial at sea would have been interesting to me.

    In more recent years I read an interesting (as Cokie might say) book about the catastrophic fire that struck the Oriskany during the Vietnam war.

    And somewhere along the line, I learned that Senator McCain – himself a survivor of a horrific Vietnam-era deck fire aboard the USS Forrestal – flew off the deck of the USS Oriskany the day he became a prisoner in Hanoi…so there’s a reason why the sailors aboard CVA-34 affectionately referred to their ship as “the Risky”!

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  65. Mark Gisleson said on May 7, 2009 at 1:15 pm

    I was one of the top Iowa volunteers for the ’80 Kennedy campaign, driving family members around the state and helping with organizing and PR. Conversations would stop and heads would turn for the following Kennedys: Ted, Ethel, Joe and that was about it. Patrick was a remarkable young man but not into his own at that time. Joe was the only member of his generation who had the charisma and I quickly lost track of how many 30-40 something Catholic women approached me to see if they could get some alone time with him. I made the mistake of mentioning Joe’s popularity to Ethel at lunch and she good naturedly scolded me for not having complimented her on her two daughters instead (the two that were at the table).

    It’s not uncommon to encounter charismatic individuals in politics, but I’ve never met another family that had so much of it. (I’ve never met the Obamas, btw.) I think their family has just about run out its string. They are vieux riche now (and yes, they still have plenty of money altho they haven’t really grown the fortune due to charities and responsible [not opportunistic] investing).

    But my real point is this: that’s a real family. I’ve never seen other public families so obviously enjoy each other’s company, and not in a closed way but in an open and caring way. That, I think, was their real power: they were and are a real family. I don’t know who’ll hold that together for them when Ted passes, but we will not see their like again.

    I was, btw, a labor goon and very P.O.ed at Jimmy Carter. I was working for Ted to knock off Jimmy, and then planned on jumping ship to the first candidate who could beat Reagan. Ted would have never have beaten anyone because by that time his campaign organization had degenerated into three fiefdoms: hangers on (very creepy and often icky), McGovernite survivors (kind of creepy), and true believers like Rob Tully who were truly amazing and wonderful people to be around, much like most of the Kennedys.

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