Kerr Offers Sage Advice to Kennedy
It’s not really news when those of us on the conservative side of things think Patrick Kennedy should bow out in light of his most recent shenanigans. Nor is it news when his Democrat enablers praise him for his “bravery” and endorse him for another Congressional run. What is news is when a liberal like Bob Kerr tells him it’s time to go:
In 1994, when Kennedy ran for Congress, he faced Dr. Kevin Vigilante. Vigilante is probably one of the most impressive people to seek public office in Rhode Island in the last quarter century — smart and caring and dedicated. Vigilante versus Kennedy offered a choice between accomplishment and family ties.
And family ties won. Credentials counted for nothing. There was a Kennedy in the race and somebody else.
And so it has gone. Kennedy has remained Rhode Island’s Kennedy in Congress. He has stumbled along with a boyish charm that has remained boyish. He is likable, in large part, I think, for his refusal or inability to change much. He still seems a kid among the grownups. And he screws up as kids will.
The incidents pile up — the one at the airport, the one on the sailboat, more than one at the wheel of a car. Kennedy has addiction problems. A lot of people do. But his become mini-dramas, played out in painful public confession.
Last week, he drove his Mustang into a concrete barrier near the Capitol in Washington in the early morning. Capitol police appeared to do all they could to keep the incident under wraps, but this one got loose.
Kennedy called a news conference to say he was going into rehab at The Mayo Clinic to deal with his addictions. Would he have made the same decision if the incident had not been made public?
I have to disagree with my friend Charlie Bakst on this one. I don’t think what Kennedy did was courageous. I think it was politically expedient. He didn’t have many options — except, of course, to decide there have been enough embarrassments, enough bad judgment, enough childish indulgence, enough examples of simply not being able to handle the pressures of public office while swimming in the family fishbowl.
On Monday night, Rhode Island Democrats endorsed Kennedy for reelection despite the questions raised by his behavior. Why not? He’s still a Kennedy. He’s still a sure thing.
But his fellow Democrats didn’t do him any favors. They didn’t make it easy for him to walk away and try to find a life in which he will be known for more than a last name. Who knows — he might end up happy.
And this would seem the time to find out if that’s possible.
Now, no matter what personal matters lay at the root of Rep. Kennedy’s recent actions, the fact remains that he seems to consistently revert back to the same sort of self-destructive, irresponsible behavior. He may be better at covering it up, but it’s still there. This isn’t about politics. Rep. Kennedy owes it to his constituents to follow Kerr’s advice. Let another Democrat run in his stead: the Democrats could probably run a ham sandwich in the 1st Congressional District in RI and keep the seat (Sorry Messrs. Leather and Rogers). Most of all, Patrick Kennedy owes it to himself to take a step back and focus on what really makes him happy. Right now, it doesn’t seem as if the “family business” is right for him.