History is full of events which catapult people into unexpected career trajectories. There was World War II and Winston Churchill, the Kennedy assassination and Lyndon Johnson, and now there is the passing of U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy and the seeming launch of his son Patrick Kennedy. At the funeral mass for his father, this U.S. Representative from tiny Rhode Island - known for lead paint litigation, local political corruption, and shooting itself in the foot on economic development - emerged as a star.
His eulogy, unlike his brother Ted's, was measured. He structured it with metaphors and analogies. His childhood asthma was positioned as an emotional building-block and as a lens through which he could view his father. He made an unapologetic acknowledgment of his mental illness. He shrewdly used that as a platform to cite his and his late father's accomplishment in getting the parity legislation for reimbursement for mental illness. Since there are over 50 million of us who have had to plead our case to insurance companies before this Kennedy breakthrough, he ensured himself of a loyal constituency. And we have families, employers, et al. who also recognized what the financial burden had been before and the relief everyone in the loop feels now.
Clearly, those watching the funeral mass sensed Patrick Kennedy was heading somewhere. That somewhere, of course, is the political Promised Land where the Kennedys are known to go or at least try to reach it. His tone was conversational, not the grand rhetoric of his father and uncles. His bearing was that of a leader, without the warm body language of his brother. He declared himself a Kennedy of this generation and one who had the survival ability and political smarts to reach that Promised Land, yet again.
Will RI produce a president in the 21st century? It certainly looks like that. And my hunch is that's what the power brokers in RI as well as the nation are discussing tonight.
You bet, Mr. Kennedy, you can count on my speechwriting/ghostwriting help.