He looks so much like Bobby that it's eerie. The dark brooding brows, the prominent front teeth, the shy smile. The crowd notices it too. A few gasp when he stands up to the microphone. It seems like such a short time ago you saw all of those hordes of Kennedy children grieving for their dead father. Now they appear one by one on the campaign trail to remind, to evoke once more the inescapable pain of remembrance.
This one's Michael. Bobby's sons. A senior now at Harvard. A senior already? Has it been that long?
He is standing now in front of 1,500 Greek Americans. The United Hellenic Voters of America. It is Sunday night in Chicago, before the Illinois primary. Sen. Edward Kennedy's plane is late. The crowd is getting restless. Michael Kennedy is there to warm them up. So is Teddy Jr.
As Teddy Jr. arrives a Secret Service agent pushes him out of the way. "I'm Sen. Kennedy's son," he says quietly. How could the agent not have known? He is tall and blond and muscualr, a young version of this father. He walks up to the stage, only the limp reminding the audience of his own tragedy in the loss of a leg to cancer. He is beguiling, vulnerable, sweet-looking. The little girls in the front row in their Greek costumes look rapt, their mothers sympathetic.
"Hi everyone. How's everyone doing? I can see a few people are getting up for Saint Patrick's Day. I hope everybody makes it out of bed on Tuesday to come vote for my, father."
That's all he says. It's enough. They go crazy.
It's Michael turn.
He begins by telling them, "Don't use your votes for the mystique behind a name." Then, "There's been a lot of talk saying that Ted Kennedy is not as good as his brothers. My uncle Jack and my father both said Ted Kennedy was the best politican in the family.
"When my father died, it was he who came in to provide strength and stability at that trying time. Only later did we appreciate the sacrifice he must have made. I've seen him react to crises in his own family. When his son Teddy [he motions to his cousin sitting behind him] contracted cancer. And all his family, the Lawfords, the Smiths . . . he gives us all strength and stability. I believe we have incurred a debt to my Uncle Teddy and this is how I'm paying it off. wA lot of people have incurred a debt to my family and my Uncle Ted. It's time for them to show their support."
The meaning is clear: The Kennedys have given the flower of their family and now . . . the debt is due. It's time . . . it's time.
He gets a standing ovation.
The master of ceremonies grabs the mike.
"After eight years," he asks the crowd enthusiastically, gesturing toward Michael, "who's going to be president? We have enough candidates in the Kennedy family for the next 100 years."
Only this comment produces moans from some of the audience.
Only this comment produces moans from some of the audience.
Ted Kennedy has still not arrived. They bring out the Greek dancers, all children, and the bouzouki music. Suddenly young Teddy walks down from the stage and joins the circle, hopping and jumping and skipping with the rest of them and the audience goes crazy, clapping and screaming and cheering him on. He keeps dancing. They keep cheering. The music keeps up its insistent whine as people stare in fascination at his leg, watch the sweat pour off his brow, cheer some more as he takes off his jacket and keeps dancing, as the music gets louder, as the men hug him in encouragement, as he keeps dancing and dancing and dancing.
Finally, mericfully, it stops.
His father is on his way.
By the time Sen. Kennedy has arrived, people are high on the Kennedy mystique.
There is such an air of excitement, of expectation, of tension in the room that they need no encouragement to cheer when the senator arrives almost two hours late. They begin to chant liturgically, "Kenne-dy, Kenne-dy, Kenne-dy."
Ted Kennedy is flushed, red-faced. He grabs the lectern and begins shouting, screaming at the audience in a sing-song manner, "Do you want a looooooong speech or a short speech?" and "We're glaaaaaaaad to be with you." He goes on to attck Carter for not debating, to discuss the Cyprus issue, to tell them what he knows they wants to hear.
But there is a strange quality to his speaking. He shouts and it distracts from what he is saying. It becomes clear that he is screaming, the way one might scream in frustration to a foreigner when you want him to understand. He strains his body to get the force of his words outs, bending over the lectern like a racer about to sprint, his face becomes redder and redder bu the passion in his voice seems weirdly disconnected from the words he is using.
He is detached from what he is saying: the super pol on auto pilot. The drawing out of the words only gives the impression of him as pardoy of himself, of the "best politican in the family," The real Teddy Kennedy is somewhere else.
"Give me your help," he is saying to them, give me your support, and we will march together . . ."
As he concludes they begin to shout and clap. Sen. Kennedy, his son Teddy Kennedy and his nephew Michael Kennedy are led out the door as the crowd breaks into another feverish chant, "Hey, hey Kenned-dy, Hey hey Kenne-dy."
The loud litany of time past, crystallized. Political Wallendas
The Kennedys are the Wallendas of politics.
Their elders fall from the high wire the younger ones climb up to replace them.
The insatiable crowds are bored with the five-man cycle act? Give them the seven-man act. Dangerous? That goes with the territory. In the wake of his brothers, flush with high ratings in the polls. Teddy runs.
But the circus tents are turning up empty. There have been the losses in Iowa, New Hampshire, Florida and Illinois, a lone win in Massachusetts. Nobody can understand why, least of all the Kennedys. The crowds used to love the excitement of it all, the potential danger. You could always count on that. Could it be that the crowds have had enough of the terrible dark Irish inevitability of the Kennedys' tragedies, the tragedies the mere presence of their faces evoke?
Could it be that the one sure winning emotion they've always had -- and have been invoking heavily in this capaign -- the sympathy for these fateful tragedies, has repelled the voters rather than inspired them?
Still, the Kennedy's move on. It's time . . . but not their time. The Frenzied March
The Secret Service agents were nearly hysterical before the Saint Patrick's Day Parade in Chicago.
Nobody could undertand why but Sen. Kennedy had decided to march for about eight blocks on the street. He had never been this exposed since the beginning of the campaign.
They must have had what appeared to be 100 agents plus an ominous-looking SWAT team in khaki army jackets, and heavy cases full of weapons were positioned along the route. There were rumors that the senator was wearing a bulletproof vest.
Nobody would have guessed any of this from looking at him as the parade was starting. He had assembled his entire family including Joan, Teddy Jr., Patrick and Kara, plus Eunice and Maria Shriver. He jovially handed them all Irish walking sticks to carry in the parade and seemed in fine spirts despite the freezing cold snow and rain.
But just minutes after he got out of his limousine to march, the crackers went off.,
Kennedy's knees buckled and he went about halfway down to the ground as a dozen frantic Secret Service agents practically dove on top of him, sending the accompanying members of the press reeling away from the senator's body.
Next the agents spotted a long lens peering out of an open window ahead and guided the senator hurriedly to the other side of the street, the cameras and reporters following closely behind.
The mobs of people who had turned out for the parade were in a surly mood. They began to boo Chicago Mayor Jane Byrne as Kennedy sought to distance himself from her, holding back so she could walk ahead.But the booing didn't stop. It was directed at him as well.
There was a frenzied quality to this march, exacerbated by the stark terror in Joan Kennedy's face as she grasped and clutched at her husband's shoulder while he marched along, seemingly oblivious to her presence.
Like the dragon dances in Chinese parades, the Kennedys zigzagged from one side of the avenue to the other, the press and agents following behind.
The press was afraid not to be there if the unmentionable happened, the agents knew they had to be there if. . . .
Pushed back behind ropes and barricades, the throngs of people stood with hands outstretched to touch him, to get a glimpse of him. But even as they did, some of those who reached out to him were booing him simultaneously. It was sinister, grotesque even, to watch the faces, some contorted with green paint and Irish hats, smile with adoratin, then change quickly to contempt if he failed to touch them or shake their hands.
Joan Kennedy, in a green Irish tweed cape, her hair wet from the snow and plastered to her face, never even attempted to smile as she was shoved and propelled along the street. She looked back occasionally, desperately looking for little Patrick. And once as a wide-eyed young Teddy was lagging behind the group sweeping up the avenue, his father stopped and called back, "Where's Teddy? Where's Teddy?"
One man, a crazed look on his face, thrust his hand out to the senator and before the agents could rush him, proffered a soggy green paper shamrock at Kennedy. The senator smiled a determined smile and marched on. As this ugly and interminable march came to a close and the senator was safely in his car, one, of the agents paused for a moment and looked up at the sky.
"Thank you, God," he said. 'The Joan Factor'
Why does Joan do it? That's what everybody asks. Especially the women.
It has been a campaign issue and the past week has been particularly rough on what Sen. Kennedy now refers to as "the Joan factor."
Early last week she broke down at a speech to a group of women when she began talking about her children and her marriage.
She gave an interview the same week in which she brought up Chappaquiddick, saying, "After that a lesser man might have abandoned public life, sayig, "I can't stand all this.' He stayed in the Senate. That takes fortitude. He told the truth. It's over. There is nothing he ca do about Chappaquiddick now."
Later, she said, "Look, I'm a survivor. Anyone with a problem who has been able to stop drinking for a period of years as I have has to be a survivor."
Is she a victim of his philanderings, as so many women see it; an admirable, loyal wife, as so many men see it; a "survivor," as she sees it?
The press has been monitoring every aspect of her comeback, every quiver of her lip, every glisten in her eye, every tremble of her hand: "Will she make it or won't she? When will Joan crack? And she most certainly will crack. Poor Joan."
But as one "man on the street" pointed out, "she's three times seven. She's over 21. She's independently wealthy. Nobody's making her stay with hm. Maybe she believes in marriage. I guess women think she's a dummy though."
Joan Kennedy's no dummy. She's getting what she wants. And she wants Teddy Kennedy. Her friends say she is still in love with him, that she wants the marriage to continue. If that is the case, then campaigning for him, helping him to get what he wants is one way to keep him. If he loses, with his political aspirations dashed, will he want to find a reason to hold the marriage together?
"He was the survivor of four brothers, and tragedy had shadowed him much of his life. It has been his companion at Cahppaquiddick and twice at the cemetery in Arlington. And it has been his companion when his eldest son had lost his leg to cancer."
So goes the Teddy Kennedy campaign ad for television in New York. Another reminder.
Asked about it at a mini press conference after a speeech in New York this week he would only say, "I don't know anything about it." Symbol of Lost Hope
Allard Lowenstein had been campaigning for Teddy Kennedy up until the day he was shot and killed a week ago.
Kennedy flew in from Illinois that night, then flew back to finish his campaigning. Tuesday he was back as one of the chosen speakers at the Central Synagogue for the memorial service.
There were over 2,000 both inside and standing outside for the service. Certainly they were there to honor Lowenstein but there was something more that brought them to that synagogue this week.
Everyone knew Kennedy would be there, though up until the last hour he had planned not to speak.
If funerals are meant to be cathartic, cleansing, memorializing and honoring the dead and the spirit of the dead, then this service was surely that, not only of the deceased himself but of a time, a spirit, an era and perhaps even a candidate.
This sad symbolism did not go unremarked by many of the mourners but there was something particularly poignant about several of the speakers who tried to conjure up a vision of Lowenstein's death being a symbol of hope. w
Coretta King and Jackie Kennedy Onassis sat within a few rows of each other, Sam Brown and Frank Mankiewicz were there, David Halberstam and Rose Styron, Lauren Bacall, Anne Wexler, Joe Duffey, Gov. Carey and Mayor Koch. Everywhere you looked were faces from the '60s, the antiwar movement, the activists sitting quietly before the service, looking subdued, sad, tired, older.
Lowenstein's coffin was a simple pine box. A woman walked past, touched her fingers to her lips, then touched the coffin with her finger. His ex-wife and three little children sat in the front row.
The speakers took their places on the altar -- Rep Paul McCloskey Jr., Andy Young, William F. Buckley Jr., Rep. Andy Jacobs and Sen. Edward Kennedy.
Just seeing Kennedy sitting there, breathing hard to try to control his emotions, staring at the ceiling, fidgeting with his hands, while Jackie Kennedy and Coretta King sat in the front pews emotionless provoked many in the audience to stifled sobs.
It was as if Lowenstein was a symbol of the lost hope of the '60s, the final reminder of everyone's painful past, a past filled with hope that ended with assassination and tragedy. A hope that doesn't work anymore. A future where Teddy Kennedy is only a reminder of the pain and tragedy past, a portent of potential tragedies.
Practically every talk evoked the '60s and memories of the Kennedy brothers, whose lives were so closely intertwined with that of Al Lowenstein. b
Peter Yarrow and Mary Travers of Peter, Paul and Mary sang. They asked the congregation to join in. Teddy Kennedy moved his lips to the words, as though in a trance.
Andy Young spoke: "The 1960s were a moment of conscience in this nation . . . we find ourselves brought together by men like Al and those before him giving their lives in an equally tragic way. . . ."
Yarrow and Travers sang "Amazing Grace" and now there was audible sobbing. Kennedy took out his notes and tried to read them while the singing was going on.
Andy Jacobs spoke: "After President Kennedy was killed it was said 'we've lost so much' . . . Kennedy . . . Kennedy . . . King . . . and now Al."
Then it was Teddy Kennedy's turn.
People sat up in their seats. Cameras whirred. Teary-eyed reporters took out their notebooks. People got out their handkerchiefs.
"What a friend we have all lost," he began. "He was everywhere. He was the man who lived for others. I always thought that somehow he was too good for this world and in the end the world he reached out to broke him because he was the last friend left of a man scorned by everyone else . . . for me and for so many others he was our brother . . . our brother left us his love. He goes with ours."
Yarrow began to sing, "If you take my hand, my son, all will be well when the day is done."
Softly the congregation picked up the refrain and began to sing, "Day is done, day is done, day is done . . ." The Awful Penance
A lot of people who know Ted Kennedy well, who have campaigned with him, say he doesn't want to be president. He is not convincing. They say he is an entirely different person on the podium than he is in real life.
He denies this and Ehtel Kennedy said in an interview in Chicago, "It's too much of an effort to be merely going through an exercise. You can't ask your family and friends to do that."
Nevertheless it doesn't really seem believable. When he has lost these past two months he has been up, enthusiastic, dynamic, feisty, almost exuberant.
It's as if he is doing some awful penance for his sins, forcing himself to go through the motions. As if the campaign is an anguished barefoot walk to Rome, the speeches a string of tormented Hail Marys.
He was red-eyed when he finally appeared at the New York Statler at 11:30 Tuesday night to concede to Jimmy Carter. The press had been waiting since before 9. Steve and Jean Smith were him. He looked exhausted. There was no exuberance this time as he acknowledged gracefully the beating he had taken in Illinois.
"It would be unfortuante indeed if this success for the administration is interpreted as a referendum for Carter policies," he said. He invoked the legacy of Al Smith, FDR and Robert Kennedy as past voices for social progress and economic democracy, "Those are the issues . . . and so it is in that spirit that we will start early in the morning to carry on the campaign." His voice was flat.
The questions from the press were rough. Is this candidacy still viable? "Yes," with a weak and weary smile.
What makes him continue?
"What brought me to this campaign. I believe we have a national administration which has failed abysmally."
He began to raise his voice, as he has done in his speeches.
Somewhere in the middle he gave up and his voice trailed off. He was just too tired.
How much money does he have?
Nobody asked him how much time he had.
His first campaign stop after losing to Carter Wednesday at the Forest Hills Subway station at 7:30 a.m.
He still looked tired but resolute. There were more press people than onlookers as he stood at the entrance to the stairs, nodding and shaking hands with passengers.
Most people were uninterested and pushed their way past him, not wanting to shake hands. Others seeing the crowd would ask what was going on. One woman was told that Sen. Kennedy was there. "Really?" she said, brightening. "Then there must be some media celebrities here too." She got out an autograph book and began to search through the group of reporters.
And a uninformed policmean, trying to get the rush-hour crowd into line, said loudly, "Make way for the senator from Chappaquiddick."
There was one man, though, who looked a bit sad. He just kept shaking his head.
"I cried more when John F. Kennedy was killed than I did when my own brother died," he said. "And I can't stand the guy in the White House now.
"But I can't vote for Teddy. Why? For one basic reason. This Mary Ann Kopeck (sic) deal. Why so long in reporting the accident? How could he leave that girl in the car? Not making any decisions. I don't want somebody like that leading the country."
Joe Kennedy and Jack Kennedy and Bobby Kennedy were all known as their father's boys. Teddy was always known as Rose's baby.
He had a lot to live up to. After his brothers were killed, he became the only standard bearer and the pressure was immense.
Now that he is losing it must be unbearable.
He must know what his father would have said.
Shortly after Jack Kennedy was elected president he was having lunch with an old friend. They were chatting about old Joe Kennedy and how proud he must be when the friend asked Kennedy what his father would have said had he lost. Jack Kennedy didn't even need to think. He looked up and replied without a pause.
"He would have said, 'Joe would have won.'"
It is now a campaign out of Kafka, by way of James Joyce: that's awful deepdown torrent and the snow and the rain and the sleet and gray mournful Chicago sky and the towering buildings along the wide ugly avenue no and the hail of wet green paper shamrocks and the children in their bright green slickers no and the jeering nasty looks of the crowds as he walks from one side to the other and his anguished wife holding on to him for dear life no and the threatening yawn of an open window and the swiriling claque of secret service no and his curly head and flushed Irish face standing out above the mobs no and his quiet mournful face at the altar and the widows dressed in black no and the pine box topped with flowers no and the sad sad songs of Peter no and the speakers telling stories of his brothers no and his euology reminding everyone and the cameras clicking and the deal man's children crying no and the people walking slowly as the coffin leaves the temple no and him standing there just watching no asking no no don't run no get out no leave it no please no please no.