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Susan Estrich
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The Kennedy Family

Comment

That's what we are. I don't just mean the real Kennedys, the people who are related to what will always be, for my generation, the closest thing America has to royalty. I mean those of us who worked for him and with him at any point in those 45 years. You join a family, and you never leave.

So it was that on Saturday, when the phone rang and I learned that "the Senator," as we always call him, had had a seizure, and today, when "glioma" shattered my computer screen, I picked up the phone to call. That's what we do. Phone lines burning. Everyone calls everyone. Hold on, is the official unofficial word. Everybody knows glioma is bad. But we don't know anything about size yet. Size matters. Hard to laugh. The location is "good," as these things go. No one is giving up yet. Of course not. That's not the way we do things in this family.

I've worked for lots of politicians in my time and remain very fond of all of them. But there is nothing quite like the Kennedy family. What explains it has a great deal to do with the man and the mission.

I worked for Ted Kennedy when he was chair of the Judiciary Committee, when he ran for president and then on his Senate staff. They were turbulent times, people getting hired and fired, a huge presidential campaign-sized staff shrinking to a post-Reagan, Republican Senate-sized one. Smart, intensely competitive people jockeying for position. Everyone competing for the Senator's time, attention, ear. It was not an easy place to work. The loyalty of the Kennedy family is not based on the job being easy or pleasant.

It's about something else. The integrity of the fight. The commitment to principles first. The fact that you are joined in a fight that is as big as the first family in American politics and as small as that one person who needs help, and that both count.

In May 1980, I was standing toward the back in a Temple in Livingston, N.J., where the Senator was speaking to a crowded room.

A woman in the back waved her arm, and he called on her. She asked him what his position was on helping Iranian Jews stranded under the new regime, unable to leave the country to join family in America. I had done the briefing book for the event, and I knew there was nothing there on Iranian Jews. The Senator caught my eye, and I was sure he hadn't anticipated the question any more than I had. "I'm not sure what we can do to help," he said. "But I want you to talk to my staff member at the back of the room, Susan Estrich, and we'll help you."

And we did. I can't tell you how many times the Senator checked back with me to find out if I had followed up on the woman's problem. The late Jerry Tinker, who spent decades as the Senator's chief immigration counsel, made calls, and so did I. It took a few months, long after the presidential campaign had ended and the Senator was no longer seeking the votes of people in New Jersey. (I don't think the woman was a citizen yet, anyway. She had just come to the event to ask the question.) But we got visas for that family. Lives saved. Another day in Sen. Kennedy's office. That was our job because it was his job.

It has been more than two decades since I left "the office," but it's still the first place I call when the bureaucracy seems impenetrable, when a little guy or gal needs someone to stand up for them. With all due respect to the other senator from Massachusetts, the two senators from California, where I live now, and all the members of Congress who have represented me, gone to school with me, whom I have supported and befriended, the one place I know where they will always stand up for somebody just because it's the right thing to do is Sen. Kennedy's office.

I call Esther now instead of Jerry. She moves the mountains these days. But behind all of them, all of us, is the Senator.

To find out more about Susan Estrich and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT 2008 CREATORS SYNDICATE INC.



Comments

9 Comments | Post Comment
I do not wish any harm to anyone but how can we make Ted Kennedy such a hero. I remember Mary Jo Kopechne like it was yesterday and the thoughts that his lack of action to cover up his wrong doings allowed this woman to die. It is a disgrace that a man who got away with murder was allowed to stay in our senate for as long as he has with never apologizing or showing any regret. The Kennedy's are not royal and the only one who showed class was Jackie Kennedy in my mind.
Comment: #1
Posted by: Kathaleen McCausland
Wed May 21, 2008 3:13 PM
Hold on a second here. Is this the same guy who killed Mary Jo Kopechne while swimming away to sober up before calling the cops the next day? This is one "family member" that I wouldn't proudly claim. Maybe the Devil will water board Senator Ted 24/7 for what he did. Ain't payback a b**ch?
Comment: #2
Posted by: ken
Thu May 22, 2008 9:42 AM
Kennedy cheated on exams in college,he spoke against America when RR.Regan put Pershing missiles in Germany,he spoke against America again,when the Ortega brothers wanted communism in Nicaragua,he loves Castro,talks like Chavez,everything he says sounds EXACTLY like UBL...and you call this drunken buffoon a hero???! You far left radical fools are so stupid,you do not realize just how stupid you truly are!
Comment: #3
Posted by: mike e. cooney
Thu May 22, 2008 10:41 AM
Lets see here,he is a drunk,a manslaughterer,mysoginist,a communist sympathizer,he went against America opposing Pershing missiles in Germany R Reagan wanted there,ditto that in Nicaragua with the communist Ortega brothers,he sounds EXACTLY like UBL in his derision of freeing 43 million citizens of this planet from death,torture,and tyrrany,and you call this blimp a HERO???!! i want the dope you're smoking...oh..nix that...sober is the way to look at this treasonist buffoon!
Comment: #4
Posted by: mike e. cooney
Thu May 22, 2008 11:09 AM
Here is the liberal disconnect; they go out of their way to help, in this case, Iranians Jews stranded by the fall of the Shah of Iran and yet, they cannot see that their support of Jimmy Carter caused this situation to happen in the first place. Like the failure to support South Vietnam which Teddy was also a ring leader of. They will cry tears to help the boat people that they created by their refusal to support South Vietnam. It seems that the dems are in the habit of creating victims to help.
I know this is crazy but I think Susan Estrich is sexy as hell.
Comment: #5
Posted by: Calvin
Fri May 23, 2008 12:24 AM
Here is the liberal disconnect; they go out of their way to help, in this case, Iranians Jews stranded by the fall of the Shah of Iran and yet, they cannot see that their support of Jimmy Carter caused this situation to happen in the first place. Like the failure to support South Vietnam which Teddy was also a ring leader of. They will cry tears to help the boat people that they created by their refusal to support South Vietnam. It seems that the dems are in the habit of creating victims to help.
I know this is crazy but I think Susan Estrich is sexy as hell.
Comment: #6
Posted by: Calvin
Fri May 23, 2008 12:27 AM
Remember Chappaquiddick? Mary Jo Kopechne? Of course you don't -- too young, I suppose. Maybe you should read up on your "hero" and open your eyes to his earlier antics (manslaughter comes to mind). I think he has spent the last maybe eight years trying to make up for the previous forty. It just can't be done. People will sometimes forgive those who tell the truth but should NEVER forgive those who think they are above the people they serve. And why is he still a Senator after all these years?! Your so-called "royalty" is overrated. Don't be so quick to tell others you actually worked for Ted Kennedy - they may actually associate your character with his and that, my dear, would NOT be a good thing!

Comment: #7
Posted by: Cheryl Graves
Tue May 27, 2008 6:48 PM
Susan, I realize you are close to the Kennedy Family but you must know Americans do not hold them up as "royalty" nor "special"....our Founding Fathers left that type of mindset behind when they created this country! Additionally, we have never forgotten the deceit and cover-up by Edward (Ted) Kennedy when he drove his vehicle off the bridge on Chappaquiddick Bay and cowardly left a young woman and a couple's only child, who had not reached full maturity (under 30 years), there to die while he and his personal confidant connived a way to protect his political fanny. If he was conscious enough to extricate himself from that vehicle, he was conscious enough to, also, release her (afterall those Kennedy sons had spent their entire lives on the water).

Comment: #8
Posted by: Soleil
Thu May 29, 2008 8:04 AM
Can someone explain to me the facination that this country have had with the Kennedy family? I don't understand the infatuation of a lot of americans with the Kennedy's. Before anyone jumps on my case, my family has been in Lyme, CT since 1690's. A lot longer than most families can say, so please don't comment on my patriotism, we have been here for a long time. My family escape Spanish monarchy in the late 1600's and settled in Connecticut. So, many european came to america with similar experiences. Especially the Britts, so why do americans seem to have the need to revered this family in such a "imperial type way".

Thanks
Comment: #9
Posted by: Charles
Sat Aug 29, 2009 8:37 AM
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