The Kennedys

As one American political dynasty flickers out, another rekindles

By Laurie Bennett

April 4, 2013 at 7:57am

Yesterday we wrote about the end of a 55-year run for the Rockefellers, as Jay Rockefeller prepares to leave the Senate next year.

Today we map the Kennedy clan, which, after a brief lull, is returning to the public sphere.

Joseph Patrick Kennedy III, grandson of Robert F. Kennedy, was elected to the House last year. Caroline Kennedy, daughter of John F. Kennedy, is the likely choice of President Obama to become U.S. ambassador to Japan.

Caroline Kennedy
Caroline Kennedy

The Kennedy reign began with a diplomatic post 75 years ago, when patriarch Joe Kennedy was named by President Franklin Roosevelt to be ambassador to the United Kingdom. (Some would say it launched earlier, with his appointments to the Maritime Commission and the Securities and Exchange Commission. If you include the maternal side of the family, the dynasty began with his father-in-law, John Francis Fitzgerald. Better known as “Honey Fitz,” Fitzgerald served in the House from 1895 to 1901 and was later mayor of Boston.)

In the years since Joe Kennedy’s inept stint as ambassador, the clan has produced a president, an attorney general, three senators, three former House members and one current House member. (There is overlap in these numbers. JFK, for instance, served in the House and Senate before going to the White House.)

The dynasty experienced a brief gap from 2011 to Joseph Patrick Kennedy III’s swearing in this year. His cousin, Patrick J. Kennedy, had decided not to seek re-election to Congress in 2010, after the death of his father, Sen. Edward Kennedy.

By the 2012 election, however, the family had re-emerged.

Kennedy cousins made frequent on-camera appearances during the Democratic National Convention. Caroline Kennedy was national co-chair of Obama’s re-election campaign, after endorsing him four years earlier.

Whether her support and her brand qualify her to guide relations with an important trade partner in such an unpredictable part of the world is another question.

Kennedy family

Caroline Kennedy with her father and mother, sailing aboard the “Honey Fitz” on Aug. 25, 1963.

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