A CAMPAIGN WITHOUT A PURPOSE

 

 

Joe and Ed

This week Congressman Joe Kennedy III announced that would seek the US Senate seat now held by Ed Markey. Pardon me if I do not see what, purpose this contest serves.

Those who applaud it might cite as an example Ayanna Pressleys’ successful challenge of Congressman Mike Capuano. I see no similarity. Pressley’s campaign messaged radical change. The Kennedy campaign merely changes the names on the desk, office door, and pay check.

Pressley’s record since winning is the complete opposite of Capuano’s, in keeping with what she offered the voters. Capuano was a workhorse who diligently took care of details and brought targeted Federal dollars to Massachusetts for specific, infrastructure purposes. Pressley has been a human protest sign. Capuano was all working class; you could almost see him in a hard hat (and sometime she wore one, at a ground breaking of some transportation project his Washington clout helped to fund). Pressley is all upscale, business, advertising, and bill boarding — she’s as comfortable with sales slogans as she is with the high fashion clothing that is worn to business functions and awards dinners. Capuano is all street corner; like Fiorello LaGuardia before him — or Tom Menino — he’s a physical presence when speaking and a “get things done” spark plug.

No such contrast exists between Kennedy and Markey. Both are establishment Congress people. Both men work on legislation. Both are exciting speakers. They agree on almost every issue. The only difference is age. Markey is 73, Kennedy is 38. Some voters claim that being 73 is a disqualification; me, I think it a bonus. Experience brings knowledge and wisdom as well as the respect of peers.

There is, of course, another difference. Markey’s Dad was a mailman. Kennedy is a son of Massachusetts’s most famous political family. (One might also cite the Bush family, but its feet are planted in Connecticut as much as in Massachusetts.) Some observers, particularly on the radical left, accuse Kennedy of “entitlement.” (Unspoken in that indictment is the suggestion that he is especially entitled for being male in the “me too” age of ubiquitous accusation.)

Perhaps he is thus entitled. I’ll grant him the honor of his ancestry. The Kennedys have given so much to America, by so many of the family’s members. Joe as well. If his call to public service arises out of honor for his forbears, I see nothing in it but good.

What then will this campaign be about ? Campaigns with no obvious purpose tend to the purely personal. I think it will be vicious, unfair, a hurricane of sentiments vicarious and irresponsibly unleashed. I may have to vote in it; but I’m glad not to be an active part of it. My political time is worth more than expending on such a groundless street fight.

— Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere

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