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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Monday, August 31, 2009

The World Series of Revenge

They say the three most popular Massachusetts pastimes are sports, politics and revenge. With all due respect to the Red Sox latest playoff push, you ain't seen nothin' yet.

Dropped innocuously within Frank Phillips' front-page look at Joseph P. Kennedy II and the other names considering a run for the Senate seat opened by the death of Sen. Edward M. Ted Kennedy is this delayed-fuse time bomb.
But his clumsy attempt to annul his first marriage, which blew up when the Vatican, in a response to an appeal by his former wife, overturned the Boston Archdiocese’s decision granting it, reflected what his critics say: that he can be at times imperious, temperamental, and bullying.
And they say elephants have long memories.

There's little question the seat is Joe's for the taking. That was the case 23 years ago when a younger (and definitely imperious, temperamental and bullying) Kennedy ran for the 8th Congressional District seat once held by uncle Jack Kennedy and Tip O'Neill.

No matter that he had no experience -- he was a Kennedy. The media ate it up, with an extra helping tossed in because one of the other candidates in the mammoth field was James Roosevelt. Duel of the Dynasties and all that.

Joe actually did a credible job in Congress before walking away to refocus on Citizen's Energy. But you always knew he was keeping his options open with a phone number like 1-800-JOE-4-OIL.

If an untested Kennedy dominated a large field in a slog for the 8th District seat, imagine what he can do in a sprint of five-month race for an open seat vacated after 47 years by his uncle's passing?

And imagine how many politicians who have been waiting their entire career for the chance feel about Kennedy's name recognition advantage.

So let's dredge up the past.

I think I can say most Massachusetts residents have long forgotten the story of Kennedy's divorce and annulment and his ex-wife's lengthy battle to overturn the annulment. I know I did.

But in a state where the church still plays a significant role in secular affairs, the machinations were certainly not forgotten by everyone.

There are any number of potential dime droppers -- from Sheila Rauch to the Machiavellian notion that the Kennedy camp itself put it back into play to test reaction. And that apparently includes loyalists for Victoria Reggie Kennedy, whose name is being bandied about for everything from the temporary appointment to the full-time job.

Any of the potential candidates are certainly capable of it -- simply because the political stakes are so high. This is literally a once-in-a-lifetime chance.

In any event, it appears the official mourning period has ended. Let the games begin. And watch out for those brushback pitches.

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