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NYT on Kennedy's Departure

The New York Times has a piece, today, on Patrick Kennedy's departure from Washington - and an end of an era. From the story:

Nightfall on the Kennedy era in Washington looks like this: Representative Patrick J. Kennedy’s office space surrendered to a Republican, his family memorabilia in boxes, and Mr. Kennedy yearning for a role away from the public eye.

As soon as Friday, when the lame-duck session of Congress could wrap up, Mr. Kennedy, 43, will return to Rhode Island, settling into his recently renovated farmhouse in Portsmouth. When his eighth term ends early next month, no member of his family will hold national office for the first time since 1947, when John F. Kennedy became a congressman from Massachusetts.

With Mr. Kennedy’s father, Senator Edward M. Kennedy, dead for more than a year now and no one else in the family voicing plans to run for office, Capitol Hill will be left with ghosts and memories. The only politician left among them is Bobby Shriver, whose mayoral term in Santa Monica, Calif., just ended but who still sits on the City Council there.

“This is a family that once had the presidency and two Senate seats, and they’re now down to the mayor of Santa Monica,” said Darrell M. West, a Brookings Institution scholar. “It’s a pretty dramatic fall, and it’s symbolic of the decline of liberalism.”

In an interview here last week, Mr. Kennedy seemed caught between two urges: to disappear into a quiet life, and to keep trying, as a private citizen, to fill what he called the enormous shoes — “too big to ever imagine,” he said — of his father and uncles.

“My family legacy was never just about government service,” said Mr. Kennedy, who talked for more than two hours in an empty room at the Cannon House Office Building, where John F. Kennedy also worked as a House member from 1947 to 1953. “It was about giving back, and the branding of President Kennedy’s call for Americans to give back to their country.”

Kennedy, as usual, is highly aware of the narrative surrounding his family - showing it, here, as he argues that politics is not the only way to fulfill the Kennedy legacy:

“I know it fits some narrative that, ‘Oh, I’m the last Kennedy,’ ” Patrick Kennedy said, his tone verging on sardonic. “But any one survey of what my family is doing out there in a million different ways fits with my family legacy.”

An interesting take, in the piece, on the changing of the guard:

Norman J. Ornstein, a political scientist at the American Enterprise Institute, said that while Mr. Kennedy’s departure was minor in the scheme of things, that he and his father were being replaced as the only father-son team in Congress by Representative Ron Paul of Texas and Senator-elect Rand Paul of Kentucky, who hail from the libertarian Tea Party wing of the Republican Party, was indicative of “the kind of sea change we’re going through” on Capitol Hill.

“To go from the Kennedys to the Pauls,” Mr. Ornstein said, “I would say that’s a pretty big difference.”

And here's the web site, if you haven't seen it, for the brain research initiative Kennedy is pursuing post-Congress: www.moonshot.org.

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