Sunday, August 31, 2008

VIDEO: "The Kennedys: America's Emerald Kings" By Thomas Maier and New Warner Bros. Documentary Based on Book, Along with Oliver Stone's "JFK"

REUTERS- The controversial highly-charged story surrounding John F. Kennedy's assassination is revisited with the November 11 release of Oliver Stone's JFK as a Three-Disc Ultimate Collector's Edition from Warner Home Video. The UCE will feature The Kennedys: America's Emerald Kings, an extraordinary new documentary from filmmaker Robert Kline based on Thomas Maier's acclaimed book about five generations of the renowned political family. Unique to the documentary is political and private footage of the Kennedys not widely available to the general public. The Kennedys: America's Emerald Kings documentary will be premiered on November 10th at Boston College and also screened on November 12th at Fordham University/Lincoln Center. Both universities
have the largest Irish studies programs in the country.

About The Documentary

The Kennedys: America's Emerald Kings is an American saga about the Irish Catholic experience. It encompasses five generations of the Kennedys' and Fitzgeralds' lives -- starting from 1848 in Wexford, Ireland and ending in 21st-century America. The film was adapted from Thomas Maier's highly acclaimed book The Kennedys: America's Emerald Kings from Basic Books, re-released in July 2008. The documentary provides a look at both the family's tragedies of poverty and
political oppression and their successes and the triumphs of the White House years. It embodies the most complete work on this Irish American family and their unique place in American history and culture.
Basic Books
Greg Houle, 212-340-8163

Friday, August 29, 2008

Can Catholics Support Obama? Former Romney Aide Invokes JFK in Now Supporting Barack Obama with New Book and Shows Up at Dem Confab to Hawk it

This rather provocative segment on CNN "Can Catholics Support Obama" asks a very ironic question. After all, one Dem prez candidate was defeated amidst strong bigotry against his Catholic faith (Al Smith in 1928) and another Dem candidate (John F. Kennedy) fought hard to overcome religious bigotry which made his Catholicism the top issue of the 1960 campaign.
So why would Roman Catholics not support Obama if they were in agreement with most of his political views? (Check out the Obama complaints leveled by Catholic League's William Donohue.)
I discuss this a great deal in my newly re-issued book The Kennedys: America's Emerald Kings, with a new preface about the Kennedys impact on the 2008 race.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

VIDEO: Ted Kennedy's 'Last Hurrah'- Commentators and Editorials Around the World

Commentators around the world described Sen. Edward Kennedy's surprise appearance at the Democratic National Convention, overcoming illness to make what many believe might be his last hurrah before his party. Here's a short sampling:

David S. Broder, The Washington Post:
When Ted Kennedy made his dramatic appearance before the Democratic National Convention delegates Monday night, the ovation he received was more than a personal tribute. It was a celebration of almost half a century of his history at these gatherings. Going back to 1960, he has been a vivid presence at these conclaves, just as he was Monday night when the party long dominated by the Kennedy clan paid tribute to the elder statesman now stricken with brain cancer. Only twice has he missed a convention -- in 1964, when he was recovering from injuries suffered in a plane crash, and four years later, after Robert F. Kennedy's assassination -- and both times the Kennedy family was a subtext to what went on.

Chris Matthews' "Hardball" program:

Long-time AP political writer Walter R. Mears:
Among the featured performers at the Democratic National Convention, the unexpected address by Sen. Edward M. Kennedy was the best I saw and heard. And the long, programmed keynote speech of Mark Warner ranked worst.
What Kennedy said wasn't as striking as the fact, and the way, he said it. Stricken with brain cancer, not long past chemotherapy and radiation treatments that had taken their toll on him, the 76-year-old senator from Massachusetts was to have been honored with a speech by his niece, Caroline Kennedy, and a taped tribute. Instead, he came from Hyannisport, Mass., to Denver, and took the stage. He said nothing could have kept him away. Kennedy went from the airport to a hospital to be checked by his doctors, and one night later, on Monday, he was at the convention microphone.
His presence on stage was striking, a remarkable act of will. His seven-minute speech was more so. He delivered it in a firm, unwavering voice. He waved at the crowds like the Kennedy of old. It was, in all probability, his last turn at a national convention. It was a star turn.

The New York Times:
Senator Edward M. Kennedy is proof that F. Scott Fitzgerald was wrong when he declared that there are no second acts in American life. Mr. Kennedy — who is struggling against cancer and whose career was celebrated at the Democratic convention Monday night — has had so many acts that we’ve lost count. He was the baddest of the Capitol’s bad boys who had the nerve to run against a sitting Democrat, President Jimmy Carter, in 1980. Now he is the principled voice of a fading generation...What seems especially important right now is Mr. Kennedy’s ability to concede defeat gracefully and rearm himself for another good fight. That is a strength we hope Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton can emulate.

The Salt Lake Tribune:
Whatever else happens during the Democratic National Convention, the surprise appearance of cancer-stricken Sen. Edward M. Kennedy on opening night Monday came as close to a national moment of shared emotion as we're likely to see this week.
For Americans of a certain age, many Republicans included, here was the last of the Kennedy brothers making what may have been his last appearance on the grand stage of this country's politics. His speech, delivered with a strength that belied his halting steps to the lectern, drew from a reservoir of memory and feeling that only he could have tapped, one that members of the World War II generation and their children carry with them.
At 76 and fighting a brain tumor, having long outlived three brothers who died before their time, Kennedy recalled the rhetoric of new beginnings and challenges that his brothers Jack and Bobby sounded in the 1960s. In many of the same lofty words, the youngest Kennedy sibling tried to bridge the long span of time separating the Kennedys of that era and the Democrats' man of the moment today.

VIDEO: Caroline Kennedy Talks about Ted Kennedy, JFK, Obama and Her Own Political Future

All of the intriguing political stories from the Dem's Convention seem to come from New York. What is Hillary going to do in the Senate, what is Bill going to do in Chappaqua and Harlem? But the biggest mystery of all may be the political future, if any, of Caroline Kennedy, the daughter of President Kennedy, who helped convince her uncle, Sen. Edward Kennedy, to come out early and forcefully for Barack Obama. How much influence did Caroline, on the Obama search committee for VP, have on the selection of Joe Biden? And more importantly, what political plum might she be eyeing for all her hard political work?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

VIDEO: Patrick Kennedy, Son of Sen. Edward Kennedy, Talks about Father's Convention Speech, JFK, Obama and Kennedy Family

Bearing the name of the first Kennedy to come to America, Cong. Patrick Kennedy, the son of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, talked about his father's speech Monday at the Democratic National Convention. He was asked about Teddy Kennedy's comments, about JFK's call to go to the moon, and the presidential campaign of Barack Obama.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

VIDEO: Facing Bigotry, JFK Directly Deals with Catholic Religion Issue in 1960, Will Obama Bring Up Race In the Same Way?

Comparison of race in 2008 and religion in 1960 is at the heart of the new preface to my re-issued book "The Kennedys; America's Emerald Kings", contrasting the campaign of President John F. Kennedy to current Democratic standard-bearer Barack Obama. Kennedy was well aware that bigotry towards Roman Catholics had help defeat the 1928 presidential bid of then-New York Gov. Alfred E. Smith, and Kennedy adroitedly addressed the issue several times during the campaign.

In his acceptance speech at the 1960 Democratic Convention, as this video show, Kennedy was frank about the relgious bigotry he faced:
"I am fully aware of the fact that the Democratic Party, by nominating someone of my faith, had taken on what many regard as a new and hazardous risk -- new at least since 1928. The Democratic Party has once again place its faith in the American people, and in their ability to render a free and fair judgment.'
"I hope that no American, considering the really critical issues facing this country, will waste his franchise and throw away his vote by voting either for me or against me because of my religious affilation. It is not relevant."

Ironically, the nation's leading prelate at that time, Cardinal Francis Spellman, who had married and baptized the Kennedys, wound up secretly supporting Richard Nixon because he felt his powers might be eclipsed and that JFK's hands would be tied because of the religious issue and not be able to help the church with its appeal for public support for parochial schools and other issues. So Obama wasn't the only candidate whose local spiritual leader gave him fits.

Monday, August 25, 2008

VIDEO: Ted Kennedy Speaks, Battling Cancer Sen. Edward Kennedy Appears to Support Obama, Health Care

Despite some obvious signs of his battle with cancer, Sen. Edward Kennedy address the Democratic National Convention last night, in support of Sen. Barack Obama's bid for the presidency and with a call for health care reform legislation. He predicted that he would be back in the Senate next January to oversee the passage of that legislation.

Also this special tribute to Kennedy appeared before he spoke:

Kennedy Legacy, CBS Remembers Ted Kennedy, JFK and RFK's Legacy.

On CBS News, Jeff Greenfield filed a report about the Kennedy legacy:
We stand today at the edge of a New Frontier. The frontier of the 1960's a frontier of unknown opportunities and perils - a frontier of unfulfilled hopes and threats," said John F. Kennedy in 1960.
Those images include a memorable inaugural, at which he said: "Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country."
And a White House impossibly young and glamorous. Then there are the other ineradicable memories. It was at the 1964 Convention, Robert Kennedy paid tribute to his fallen brother John.
"I realize that as an individual even more importantly, for our political party and for the country that we can't just look to the past, but we must look to the future," Robert Kennedy said.
Four years later, Ted Kennedy was paying tribute to the murdered Robert.
In 1969, came the death of a young woman in a car accident with Ted Kennedy at the wheel.
Lingering memories of that helped doom Ted Kennedy's 1980 effort to take the Democratic nomination away from the President Carter. But at that convention, Kennedy's speech became a rallying cry for the liberal foot soldiers of the party. "The work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, the dream shall never die," he said. But beyond the personal triumphs and losses, there is another story - the political legacy of the Kennedys that began a generation earlier than most of us realize, and that shaped, and reflects, the modern history of the Democratic Party.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Caroline Kennedy to England for President Obama? Rumors of Payback for Early Support- Court of St. James for Courting St. Barack

Over in jolly ole England, there's a published rumor that Caroline Kennedy, an early supporter of Sen. Barack Obama, might become the new U.S. Ambassador to the Court of St. James, reprising the job that her grandfather once held at the outset of World War II.
London holds a magical place in the Kennedy story, a time when the children of Joe and Rose were still alive and looking towards the future before war came. Caroline Kennedy is also rumored to have a political future back in the states.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Is Joe Biden the New LBJ? Can Sen. Biden Do for Obama What Lyndon Johnson Did for JFK? Media Compares Kennedy's 1960 VP Choice to Obama's 2008 Bid(en)

Is Sen. Joe Biden the new Lyndon Johnson? We've read plenty of comparisons of Barack Obama to John F. Kennedy and JFK's successful 1960 bid for the presidency. But now the comparisons extend to the VP choice as well. As this photo of JFK and Johnson shows (as Kennedy tries to restraint LBJ from yelling at a heckler), it's not always easy to control a motor-mouth running mate.
Can the Delaware Democrat, with his appeal to white middle-class Catholic voter, help Barack Obama stem the tide of Hillary Democrats willing to cross over and vote for John McCain instead? Some of the Dem consultants think so:
"He's passionate, he's articulate and he's persuasive," said Democratic consultant Steve McMahon, among those who consider Biden Obama's smartest pick. "I think he would do for Senator Obama what Lyndon Johnson did for John Kennedy. He's got serious foreign policy experience, a long and distinguished Senate resume and he is one of the most effective surrogates that Senator Obama has right now who can go toe-to-toe with any Republican on any issue at any time."

Last Hurrah for Teddy? What Happens to Kennedy Legacy if Sen. Edward Kennedy Leaves the American Political Scene

The Democratic Convention may be a 'last hurrah' for Sen. Edward Kennedy and the legacy of the Kennedy family, suggest some pundits this weekend. Below is an AP video of Kennedy's political impact. One of the ironies of the 2008 campaign is that Hillary Clinton, subbed by Sen. Kennedy who endorsed Barack Obama, may assume the role of Senate deal-maker that Ted played for years. And here's what David Lightman of McClatchy newspapers wrote:
Sen. Barack Obama is in many ways the successor to those dreams. Ted Kennedy endorsed him early in the primary season, and Caroline Kennedy, President Kennedy's daughter, is on Obama's vice presidential selection team.
Still, the Democratic presidential candidate must tiptoe across a political tightrope. The Kennedys help him tap into an important, passionate political constituency, not to mention the money and expertise their network brings.
"There is a resonance with the Kennedys that motivates people to act on the basis of compassion," former Kennedy aide John Seigenthaler said.
But in some circles, the Kennedys remain political anachronisms, liberals long ago shorn of their charisma.
The evidence: Efforts by Kennedy children and relatives to win political races have languished, other than congressional seats with strong, sympathetic New England Democratic constituencies.
In 2002, Robert's daughter Kathleen Kennedy Townsend became the first Democrat to lose a race for the governorship of Maryland in 36 years. In Massachusetts, Joe Kennedy, Robert's son, has declined several times to run for governor; in 1997, he dropped his bid saying personal and family problems were hurting his candidacy.
Monday, the analysts say, Democrats must leave the audience remembering Ted Kennedy as not only the last lion of liberalism, but also a man whose hope will outlive him.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Ted Kennedy Tribute at the Democratic National Convention Next Week, Obama Expected to Recall Kennedy Legacy

The opening session of the Democratic National Convention will feature a tribute to Sen. Edward Kennedy, who's strong support for Barack Obama proved to be a crucial turning point in the primary campaign. Ted Kennedy is expected to speak in a five-minute video and undoubtedly others will refer to him and the Kennedy family legacy during the convention. Here is Sen. Kennedy's appearance last year on NBC's Meet the Press, speaking about his past appearances on the show. He recalls the advice he received from his older brother, President John F. Kennedy, before appearing for the first time in 1962.

Profiles in Couture: JFK as Ralph Lauren; Does this New 'Kennedy' Line of Men's Wear Put the 'K' in Couture? And What's the Deal With That Jackie?

Was John F. Kennedy really just Ralph Lauren in disguise? Proving again that summer is the silly season for newspapers, the NY Post reports on the new men's wear "inspired" by JFK. For those Jack wannabees, the Hamptons is just for the place for dressing casual and asking the Jackie in your life for a sail. Of course, the Jackie in this photo looks more like Maria Callas, Aristotle Onassis's previous girlfriend, than the real Mrs. Kennedy.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

REVIEW: "Nixonland' Recalls Dr. Spock's Impact on Martin Luther King and Vietnam Protests

With a big fat "I told-you-so" grin, we can't help but like any bestselling book that cites "Dr. Spock: An American Life," seven times in the notes and bibliography. So that's one of many reasons to like Rick Perlstein's new "Nixonland", a sprawling historical account of Nixon's rise, fall, rise, and utltimate fall and what it all says about our country. I grew up thinking that Nixon was a brillant strategist whose downfall was attributed to being too smart by half. But as I've read more, I realize how much I overrated him. One of the dopiest Nixon ideas was the pledge to visit all 50 states during the 1960 campaign. It ran him ragged, leading to the horrible physical shape he was in when he debated the tanned and rested JFK.
Perlstein does a fine job of underlining the importance of Dr. Benjamin Spock's powerful moral impact during the 1960s protest movement and his influence on Martin Luther King in convincing him to speak out against that conflict. Here's some of what Perlstein has to say:

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

'You Be Bobby and Obama Will be JFK!' Wrong-Headed "Compare-Alot" Advice From Penn to Hillary Clinton: For This Camelot Scene, You Need a Strategist?

All campaign season, we've been keeping track of "Compare-Alot", the constant (and often apt) comparisons of Sen. Barack Obama's current campaign to John F. Kennedy's ground-breaking win in 1960, setting the stage for the media's constant refrains of Camelot. But the biggest example of Compare-Alot may have come from none other than Hillary braintruster Mark Penn. In the memos that being published by Atlantic magazine, Penn is quoted in a December 2007 memo as telling Sen. Clinton how to view herself compared to Obama. "He may be the JFK in the race, but you are the Bobby," writes Penn. Months later, Clinton dumped Penn, only by then it was too late to beat Obama. So rule Number One emerges for all political strategies relying on "Compare-Alot" -- make sure YOUR client is the one being compared to JFK! Even Bobby Kennedy (circa 1960, that is, as Jack's campaign manager) would tell you that!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

REVIEW: 'Primary' -- JFK in 1960 West Virginia Primary is Re-Issued; a Classic Great in Its Day But Creaks by Today's Standards

We watched filmmaker Robert Drew's remarkable cinema verite documentary of the 1960 West Virginia campaign called "Primary" which many have hailed as classic of the form. Throughout the film, JFK and Hubert Humphrey battle it out in a campaign where Kennedy's religion appeared to be insurmountable obstacle. (Just in case anyone was unsure who was the Protestant in the race, as my book reported, Humphrey's band kept playing "Give Me That Old Time Religion" at rallies!) The old black-and-white documentary was quite innovative in its day, but technology has so improved that the film looks its nearly half-century age. What is important to remember, however, is that Drew's film was the first of a new wave of cinema verite journalism rather than the last vestige of the old newsreel days.
Kennedy's money and organization eventually won the day in West Virginia. Now Drew's documentary is being re-issued, riding the crest of Obama fever in the air. Could another candidate from another minority background be elected this year just like the hero of Drew's film?
Here's what TimeOUT NY had to say:
n his 1960 effort, Drew captured what a politician and his potential First Lady look like just before they realize that they perhaps ought to keep their guard up. For instance, Primary contains a famous scene in which Jackie Kennedy is on a podium, facing a large crowd. Drew focuses not on her face, but on her white-gloved hands, fiddling nervously behind her back. He then cuts to the side of her the audience sees—her radiant smile.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Ted Won't Be There As Dems Pays Homage to Kennedys at Convention: Cancer-Stricken Senator Records Video Salute

At the Democratic Convention later this month, the party of Barack Obama will spend some considerable time paying homage to the Kennedy family, including a 5-minute video segment from Sen. Edward Kennedy, the ailing family patriarch who is apparently not well enough to attend. According to the Boston Herald, there will also be a 15-minute video feature on the Kennedy legacy. Here's the 2004 convention speech that Ted gave to Dems, when he supported John Kerry's bid for the White House. This is probably the first Democratic Convention that Ted Kennedy has missed since the 1950s. (I think he was in college when JFK was considered for VP in 1956).

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Eamon DeValera Personified Kennedy's Ties to Ireland: New Archive in Dublin Reveals Letter to Jacqueline Kennedy

One of the most enigmatic ties to the Kennedys and Ireland is their relationship with Eamon deValera, the New York City-born Irish leader who saw JFK's election to the presidency in the broad sweep of Ireland's hsitory, essentially as the poetic ending to the massive Irish disaspora to America. The full private and public papers of De Valera are now catalogued and being published more than 30 years after his death. The archives in Dublin include this photo of De Valera meeting Jacqueline Kennedy shortly after the JFK assassination and his letter to the president's widow, expressing the grief of the Irish people. De Valera's relationship with the Kennedys is recounted in my book, including his dealings with Joseph Kennedy in the 1930s as US ambassador to Great Britain and also his discussions with a young John Kennedy in the 1940s, before he became an elected official.

Monday, August 4, 2008

1924 Olympics of "Chariots of Fire" Won Glory for Young Benjamin Spock and Yale Crew; Long Before He Became Dr. Spock, Baby-Boomer Pediatrician

The Olympics are being held in a faraway place this year, just as it seemed to young Benjamin Spock and his Yale Crew teammates who won the Gold Medal at the 1924 Paris Olympics. The 1924 Olympics were later celebrated in the movie "Chariots of Fire". A portrayal of the opening ceremony is clipped below. But one of the most delightful upsets for the Americans that year was the improbable victory of Ben Spock and his mates, who later were celebrated on the cover of Time magazine. The whole wonderful tale of this victory is recalled in "Dr. Spock: An American Life," which someday soon may be a movie too!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

JFK, Lyndon Johnson, and Picking a Vice-President: Obama, McCain Won't Have Easy VP Choices, So Ask a Relative

Picking a VP candidate isn't easy, so maybe Sens. Obama and McCain should ask their relatives. As described in "The Kennedys: America's Emerald Kings," when JFK picked Lyndon Johnson, his brother was upset but his father considered it a key to winning Texas and the presidency. The old man was right. And after the election, where did everyone meet to plan the next administration? As this video show, at Joe Kennedy estate in Palm Beach Florida!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Tim Russert Recalls Reaction To JFK's 1960 Victory in his old Buffalo Neighborhood: Video Recalls Same Reaction Mentioned in Book

One of those video tributes to Tim Russert included this little snippet about the reaction of JFK's 1960 victory in the Irish Catholic enclave in Buffalo, NY where the Russerts lived. In "The Kennedys; America's Emerald Kings," Russert's rememberance of JFK's victory is recalled, with the great sense that a huge cultural barrier had been broken with the election of a Roman Catholic to the presidency.