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Rep. Patrick Kennedy Pulls a Lyndon

In other shocking political news today, Rhode Island Congressman Patrick Kennedy announced that he will not seek re-election, leaving the U.S. Congress without a Kennedy for the first time since 1947.

Wow. Now that’s what I call “pulling a Lyndon,” allright.

“I shall not seek, nor will I accept…oh to hell with it, I quit, ok?”

After Scott Brown’s stunning victory in the Massachusetts special election for the late Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat, is the tide turning in American politics? For better or for worse? Your thoughts?

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RFK Honored at Democratic Convention

ROBERT F. KENNEDY MEMORIAL 40TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION IN DENVER

* Those of you who weren’t fortunate enough to make it to Denver for the DNC, here’s what you missed Wednesday. The Kennedy family, friends, and longtime supporters gathered at the Brown Palace Hotel to remember RFK and celebrate his legacy.

We bring you coverage of this star-studded event from local and national sources below. According to all accounts we’ve heard so far, RFK Jr. was the star of the show!

The New York Daily News certainly thought so…check out this glowing review:

Bobby Kennedy Jr. politely dodged questions about his political future now that Hillary Clinton won’t be vacating her U.S. Senate seat. But he gave such a rousing speech at a Denver benefit for the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial on Wednesday that admirers urged him to run for something soon.

Building on the emotional appearance of Uncle Ted at the Democratic convention two days earlier, Kennedy departed from his usual environmental concerns to connect his father’s mission with the state of America today.

“When I was 13, I went on a trip to Europe with my father and mother,” he recalled. “We went to Czechoslovakia and Poland and Germany. We were greeted by hundreds of thousands of people, who came to hear an American politician. It wasn’t because [President Kennedy] had been martyred three years before. Even when Eisenhower went to Kabul and Tehran, he was met by thousands of Muslims who carried American flags.

“It took 230 years of discipline and restrained leadership by Republican and Democratic Presidents to build up a reservoir of love for the U.S. In the last seven years, through incompetence, we have drained those reservoirs dry.”

Kennedy went on to indict the Bush administration for “torture, suspending habeas corpus and eavesdropping on hundreds of thousands of people.”

Naturally, the call to arms was cheered by the Democratic crowd, who included New York Gov. David Patterson, Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter, Teresa Heinz Kerry, Rev. Al Sharpton, Fran Drescher, Aisha Taylor, Gloria Rubin and Giancarlo Esposito.

Though Ted Kennedy was back in Massachusetts continuing his cancer treatment, 80-year-old Ethel Kennedy came with a flock of children and grandchildren. Her daughter Kerry, who’s been at the front of the RFK Memorial’s human rights crusade, told us she’s thought about running, “but I’m divorced with three kids. Right now, I want to be a mother.”

What about rumors that her increasingly visible cousin, Caroline Kennedy, might run for office?

“I don’t know,” said Kerry, “but she’d be so great. She really has the capacity to bring people together.” Bobby agreed: “We’d all be delighted to see her [run].”

Meanwhile, Gov. Patterson confirmed that the Triborough Bridge would be officially renamed the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge on Nov. 19.

* Here’s what the local Denver CBS affiliate had to say of the RFK Memorial event:

A special tribute to Senator Robert F Kennedy in Denver

A special tribute to Senator Robert F Kennedy in Denver

DENVER (CBS4) ― The Democrats are celebrating their historic nomination this week as Barack Obama becomes the first African American candidate from a major party to run for president. But the party is also celebrating its heritage and the Kennedy family has been the focus of several events.

Many of the Kennedys joined other dignitaries to honor the legacy of another member of the family, Robert F. Kennedy, on Wednesday.

There were Kennedys everywhere: Ethel, Patrick, Robert Jr., Kathleen and Max were all at the event. Also on hand were the Clintons, Gov. Paterson of New York and Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter.

“The life he lived was based on hope and bringing the people together,” Max said. “If you look just at that one photograph of my dad with Cesar Chavez breaking bread together … I think that encapsulates the idea of the United States coming together for the first time.”

“He was also one that stepped outside the establishment,” Rev. Al Sharpton said. “To oppose the war in Vietnam he showed courage, he showed vision and ultimately it cost him his life.”

The event was held by the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial, an organization that focuses on human rights and social justice.

VIDEO of the event is available on the CBS4Denver website…the link probably won’t be active for long, so check it out while you can!

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Teddy’s Return to the Senate Elicits Cheers and Tears

Teddy\'s Back!

Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., followed by Caroline Kennedy, enters the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, July 9, 2008. (AP Photo/Lauren Victoria Burke)

KENNEDY RETURNS TO THE SENATE; GETS STANDING OVATION

Senator Edward Kennedy got a standing ovation from his colleagues as he returned to the US Senate Wednesday for the first time since being diagnosed with brain cancer.

The Democratic icon showed up for a vote on the Medicare state health program for seniors during a break from radiation and chemotherapy treatment, after undergoing surgery on a brain tumor last month.

He walked slowly from a car into the US Capitol building, then was greeted with a standing ovation from Republican and Democratic senators standing in the well of the Senate as he cast his vote.

“Aye,” the 76-year-old Kennedy said in a loud voice, smiling broadly and making a thumbs-up gesture as he registered his vote.

Spectators in the galleries that overhang the chamber burst into cheers — a violation of decorum that drew no complaints.

Kennedy made his way into the Senate on his own power, appearing little the worse for his illness. A patch of scalp was clearly visible through his familiar white hair, although it was not clear whether that was a result of surgery he underwent or the effects of chemotherapy or radiation that are part of his treatment.

He walked into chamber accompanied by Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois, his party’s presidential nominee-in-waiting, as well as fellow Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry and Kennedy’s son, Rep. Patrick Kennedy of Rhode Island.

KEEPING A PROMISE

“I return to the Senate today to keep a promise to our senior citizens and that’s to protect Medicare,” Kennedy, the patriach of the Kennedy political dynasty, said in a written statement.

“Win, lose or draw, I wanted to be here. I wasn’t going to take the chance that my vote could make the difference.”

Seated in the Senate gallery were Kennedy’s wife, Vicki, and Caroline, his niece. As the tourists and senators alike rose in a standing ovation, Vicki Kennedy wiped away tears.

So did many of Kennedy’s colleagues and several Senate clerks.

Kennedy’s dramatic return gave Democrats the impetus they needed to free Medicare legislation from gridlock. It had received 59 votes on an earlier test, one short of the 60 needed to advance. Kennedy made 60, and when Republicans saw the outcome was sealed, several of them joined Democrats to pad the margin.

Obviously, Teddy’s vote did make the difference today. After taking care of Senate business, Kennedy flew back to Boston for his scheduled weekly cancer treatment.

Doctors at Duke University Medical Center in North Carolina said last month that Kennedy’s brain surgery had been successful and was a first step in a treatment plan.

Kennedy was rushed to Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston on May 17 after suffering a seizure at his family’s compound in Hyannis Port on Cape Cod.

Following results from a biopsy, doctors diagnosed Kennedy with a malignant glioma in the left parietal lobe, an area of the brain which controls speech, among other functions.

THE PROGNOSIS

Doctors have not publicly offered a prognosis for Kennedy. But the US National Cancer Institute has said the outlook for such a diagnosis is poor, with average life expectancy depending on the stage of the tumor, from a few months to up to five years.

About 13,000 Americans die annually from malignant tumors in the brain or spinal cord, comprising 2.2 percent of all cancer-linked deaths, according to the American Cancer Society. Survival has improved over the past decade due in part to new drugs.

The tumor kills 50 percent of patients during the first year after diagnosis and few live beyond three years. Without treatment the tumor grows back between two to three months after being surgically removed.

The brain tumor diagnosis sent shockwaves through the US Congress, where Kennedy has been a dominant figure for nearly half a century and is a champion of causes such as health care, education, workers rights and immigration reform.

Kennedy’s eighth six-year term in the Senate expires in 2012. The Senator’s nephew, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., has been mentioned in recent weeks as one family member who might eventually pick up the liberal lion’s torch in the U.S. Senate.

 

AFP and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Family and Friends Pray for Kennedy

Senator Edward Moore Kennedy

Senator Edward Kennedy in 2005. (AP Photo)


SENATOR KENNEDY’S FAMILY, FRIENDS REELING AFTER GRIM DIAGNOSIS

BOSTON (AP) – The grim diagnosis that Sen. Edward M. Kennedy has an almost certainly fatal brain tumor was “a real curveball” that left his family stunned even as he joked and laughed with them, his wife told her friends.

In her first public comments on her husband’s diagnosis, Vicki Kennedy expressed pride in how well her husband of 15 years was handling the news.

“Teddy is leading us all, as usual, with his calm approach to getting the best information possible,” she wrote in an e-mail Tuesday to friends.

“He’s also making me crazy (and making me laugh) by pushing to race in the Figawi this weekend,” she wrote, referring to the annual sailing race from Cape Cod to Nantucket.

An Associated Press photographer who was given access to the senator on Tuesday captured Kennedy, dressed in a gray sweater and dark slacks, joking and laughing with family members as he sat at a table in a family room at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Doctors discovered the cancerous tumor after the 76-year-old senator suffered a seizure over the weekend. Outside experts predicted he had no more than three years – and perhaps far less – to live.

Family members with suitcases bunked with Kennedy overnight. Rep. Patrick Kennedy, D-R.I., was determined not to leave until doctors settled on a treatment plan.

“Obviously it’s tough news for any son to hear,” said Robin Costello, a spokeswoman for Patrick Kennedy. “He’s comforted by the fact that his dad is such a fighter, and if anyone can get through something as challenging as this, it would be his father.”

The diagnosis cast a pall over Capitol Hill, where the Massachusetts Democrat has served since 1962, and came as a shock to a family all too accustomed to sudden, calamitous news.

“He’s had a biopsy, and we don’t yet have final pathology or a plan or course of treatment. But I have to be honest, we’ve been pitched a real curveball,” Vicki Kennedy wrote.

Doctors said the senator had a malignant glioma in the left parietal lobe, a region of the brain that helps govern sensation, movement and language. Malignant gliomas are diagnosed in about 9,000 Americans a year; in general, half of all patients die within a year.

“It’s treatable but not curable. You can put it into remission for a while but it’s not a curable tumor,” said Dr. Suriya Jeyapalan, a neuroncologist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.

The doctors said Kennedy will remain in the hospital for the next couple of days as they consider chemotherapy and radiation. They did not mention surgery, a possible indication the tumor is inoperable.

In a statement Tuesday, Dr. Lee Schwamm, vice chairman of neurology at Massachusetts General, and Dr. Larry Ronan, Kennedy’s primary physician, said the senator “remains in good overall condition, and is up and walking around the hospital.”

“He remains in good spirits and full of energy,” the physicians said.

Senators of both parties heard about his condition during their weekly, closed-door policy lunches, and some looked drawn or misty-eyed as they emerged.

Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., the longest-serving member of the Senate, wept as he prayed for “my dear, dear friend, dear friend, Ted Kennedy” during a speech on the Senate floor.

“Keep Ted here for us and for America,” said the 90-year-old Byrd, who is in a wheelchair. He added: “Ted, Ted, my dear friend, I love you and I miss you.”

In a statement, President Bush saluted Kennedy as “a man of tremendous courage, remarkable strength and powerful spirit.” He added: “We join our fellow Americans in praying for his full recovery.”

Kennedy has been active for his age, maintaining an aggressive schedule on Capitol Hill and across Massachusetts. He has made several campaign appearances for Sen. Barack Obama.

“He fights for what he thinks is right. And we want to make sure that he’s fighting this illness,” Obama said Tuesday. “And it’s our job now to support him in the way that he has supported us for so many years.”

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton said: “Ted Kennedy’s courage and resolve are unmatched, and they have made him one of the greatest legislators in Senate history. Our thoughts are with him and Vicki and we are praying for a quick and full recovery.”

Kennedy has left his stamp on a raft of health care, pension and immigration legislation during four decades in the Senate. In 1980, Kennedy unsuccessfully challenged Jimmy Carter for the Democratic presidential nomination.

The Kennedy family has been struck by tragedy over and over. Kennedy’s eldest brother, Joseph, died in a World War II plane crash; President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963; and Sen. Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1968.

Ted Kennedy shocked the nation in 1969 when he drove his car off a bridge to Massachusetts’ Chappaquiddick Island and a young female campaign worker drowned. Kennedy, who did not call authorities until the next day, pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of an accident and received a suspended two-month jail sentence.

Kennedy, the Senate’s second-longest serving member, was re-elected in 2006 and is not up for election again until 2012. Were he to resign or die in office, state law requires a special election for the seat 145 to 160 days afterward.

Associated Press writer Lauran Neergaard contributed to this report from Washington.

On the Net:

http://kennedy.senate.gov
05/21/08 06:01 © Copyright The Associated Press. All rights reserved. The information contained In this news report may not be published, broadcast or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press.

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Sen. Kennedy Diagnosed With Brain Tumor

THE NEWS AIN’T GOOD TODAY

We sadly bring you the following update on Senator Edward Kennedy:

By GLEN JOHNSON
Associated Press Writer

A cancerous brain tumor caused the seizure Sen. Edward M. Kennedy suffered over the weekend, doctors said Tuesday in a grim diagnosis for one of American politics’ most enduring figures.

Doctors for the Massachusetts Democrat say tests conducted after Kennedy suffered a seizure this weekend show a tumor in his left parietal lobe. Preliminary results from a biopsy of the brain identified the cause of the seizure as a malignant glioma.

His treatment will be decided after more tests but the usual course includes combinations of radiation and chemotherapy.

“I’m really sad,” former Sen. Bob Kerrey, D-Neb., said when told in a Senate hallway about Kennedy’s condition. “He’s the one politician who brings tears to my eyes when he speaks.”

Senator Edward M. Kennedy, AP photo

The 76-year-old senator has been hospitalized in Boston since Saturday, when he was airlifted from Cape Cod after a seizure at his home.

“He has had no further seizures, remains in good overall condition, and is up and walking around the hospital,” said a joint statement issued by Dr. Lee Schwamm, vice chairman of the Department of Neurology at Massachusetts General Hospital and Dr. Larry Ronan, Kennedy’s primary care physician.

The doctors said Kennedy will remain in the hospital “for the next couple of days according to routine protocol.”

“He remains in good spirits and full of energy,” they said.

Kennedy’s wife and children have been with him each day but have made no public statements.

Malignant gliomas are a type of brain cancer diagnosed in about 9,000 Americans a year – and the most common type among adults. It’s a starting diagnosis: How well patients fare depends on what specific tumor type is determined by further testing.

Average survival can range from less than a year for very advanced and aggressive types – such as glioblastomas – or to about five years for different types that are slower growing.

Kennedy, the second-longest serving member of the Senate and a dominant figure in national Democratic Party politics, was elected in 1962, filling out the term won by his brother, John F. Kennedy.

Kennedy eldest brother, Joseph, was killed in a World War II airplane crash. President John Kennedy was assassinated in 1963 and his brother Robert was assassinated in 1968.

Kennedy is active for his age, maintaining an aggressive schedule on Capitol Hill and across Massachusetts. He has made several campaign appearances for the Illinois senator in February, and most recently another in April.

Kennedy, the senior senator from Massachusetts and the Senate’s second-longest serving member, was re-elected in 2006 and is not up for election again until 2012.

Were he to resign or die in office, state law requires a special election for the seat no sooner than 145 days and no later than 160 days after the vacancy occurs.

 

AP reporter Lauran Neergaard in Washington contributed to this report.

 

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Rory Kennedy Joins Team Obama

THE DIVIDE DEEPENS

In recent weeks, we’ve been watching the fireworks on the Hyannisport lawn as members of the Kennedy family split onto opposing political teams.

In what promises to be the roughest touch football game of the year, JFK’s daughter Caroline, brother Teddy, and nephew Patrick have taken up the ball for Obama. They were soon joined by Maria Shriver, who promised to run it all the way to the goal line at a Los Angeles Obama rally last weekend. (Her husband, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, formally endorsed Senator John McCain the following day.)

Meanwhile, Team Clinton seemed to have the formidably large family of RFK on her side. With star players like Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Kathleen Kennedy Townsend and Kerry Kennedy all suited up and ready to rumble, it naturally stood to reason that all of the Robert Kennedys would stand together and present a united front for Senator Clinton.

But the truth of the matter is another story entirely, as we are all now witnessing.

RFK’s widow Ethel was actually one of Barack Obama’s staunchest supporters from the early days of the campaign, and now her children are splitting into opposing camps, too. Son Maxwell Kennedy was spotted at an Obama campaign event in east L.A. last week, although he has yet to make any formal endorsements. Now the divide grows deeper still.

In a surprise play, Robert Kennedy’s daughter Rory just switched teams from Clinton to Obama. Although she has been a strong advocate for the Clintons in past years, and even as recently as December was reported to be supporting Hillary, Rory apparently was listening closely last weekend when Oprah Winfrey commented that “every free woman has the right to change her mind.” And so she has.

Rory’s endorsement of Barack Obama was published this week in the San Francisco Chronicle, no doubt sending shockwaves through the ranks of the Clinton faithful, and even perhaps within her own immediate family. We’ve reprinted the complete text below:

TWO FINE CHOICES, ONE CLEAR DECISION – OBAMA

By Rory Kennedy

Last Monday, I was very moved to see my uncle, Sen. Edward Kennedy, and my cousin, Caroline Kennedy, publicly endorse Sen. Barack Obama. I thought their statements of support were brave, intelligent and responsible. Given the importance of this election, and the remarkable strength of our candidates, it’s not an easy decision for anyone looking to cast a vote for a new direction in this country.

Sen. Hillary Clinton is a truly remarkable leader. She has given an enormous amount to our country as a public servant and to my family as a friend. Not only does she stand ready to be president, but she would be the first woman to hold the highest office in the land.

All that makes her very appealing. As a woman, a mother, and feminist, I can fully appreciate the symbolic power of a woman in the Oval Office. I have dedicated my life to making documentaries, many of which focus on women’s issues. I would love to have my daughters see a female president in our lifetimes. And still, that is not enough of a reason for me to vote for Senator Clinton.

I empathize with Senator Clinton. In her run for president, she has been forced to walk a difficult line. She is scrutinized not only for her political positions, but also for her clothing, hair and make-up. When she is tough, she is called cold, when she is emotional, she is labeled weak. It can’t be easy. I have an enormous amount of respect for the way she has handled this near-impossible balancing act. And still, that is not enough of a reason for me to vote for her.

I am concerned about women getting equal pay for equal work and breaking through the glass ceiling. I care about policies regarding health and education, issues that affect me personally. I have no doubt of Senator Clinton’s commitment to these issues. And still, that is not enough of a reason for me to vote for her.

Times are far too dark, the price of failure too steep and the road ahead too perilous for us to vote on identity politics. I would love to see a woman be president. I would love to see an African American be president. But right now, what I would love most is to elect the best person for the job.

I believe that person is Sen. Barack Obama. As a leader, he has inspired generations of Americans to look beyond reductive categories like gender or race. Instead, he calls on us to think past our own individual interests, to envision a world that is better for every person in it.

Like Senator Clinton, I have no doubt of Senator Obama’s commitment to the issues I care about. But, his unique ability to unify this country and transcend partisan gridlock means that we can finally get something done.

In my years making documentaries, I have traveled to remote regions, from small villages in South America, to townships in South Africa, to the hollows of Appalachia. Every trip, every film, I meet people who still keep photographs of my family on their walls. They cry when they meet me, simply because they were touched by my father, Robert Kennedy. In part, this is because my father supported policies and legislation that helped the disenfranchised. But it is also, and perhaps more importantly, because they felt that my father understood their pain. Senator Obama has that quality too. He has an open heart and an energizing spirit.

Recently, my mother, Ethel Kennedy, said of Obama: “I think he feels it. He feels it just like Bobby did. He has the passion in his heart. He’s not selling you. It’s just him.”

I agree. Obama is a genuine leader. We Americans – women included – desperately need that kind of leader now. Not a president of a particular gender or a specific race, but a president with a different vision, one who inspires a sense of hope.

To elect Barack Obama is to choose a new direction, set a new course – to steer America toward a better place, better for women as well as men, better for us all.

Rory Kennedy, a documentary filmmaker, won an Emmy for her production and direction of “Ghosts of Abu Ghraib.”

This article originally appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle.

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Super Bowl `08: Kennedys vs. Kennedys

POLITICAL SUPER BOWL `08: THE KENNEDYS VS. THE KENNEDYS

This ain’t your father’s game of touch football.

The `08 race just keeps getting more interesting by the minute, with the Kennedy players taking sides on different teams, all in preparation for the big game on Super Tuesday.

As of Super Bowl Sunday, here’s the lineup so far:

TEAM OBAMA:

Senator Edward Kennedy

Caroline Kennedy

Patrick Kennedy

Ethel Kennedy

Maxwell Kennedy

Rory Kennedy

Maria Shriver

TEAM CLINTON:

Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

Kathleen Kennedy Townsend

Kerry Kennedy

TEAM MCCAIN:

Arnold Schwarzenegger

Clearly, Obama has the advantage going into Tuesday’s election, with more Kennedys on his team than any other candidate. Will it make a difference? Who knows, but we’ll find out Tuesday night when the final score is in.

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