Sources say Kennedy was privately furious at Clinton for her praise of President Lyndon Baines Johnson for getting the 1964 Civil Rights Act accomplished. Jealously guarding the legacy of the Kennedy family dynasty, Senator Kennedy felt Clinton’s LBJ comments were an implicit slight of his brother, President John F. Kennedy, who first proposed the landmark civil rights initiative in a famous televised civil rights address in June 1963.
I suppose if I were a Kennedy I, too, would feel that helping to preserve the Myth of JFK was important. But the myth is just that — a myth. Kennedy, like his immediate predecessor in the White House, was a diffident advocate of civil rights who obtained only meager results. Lyndon Johnson, by contrast, proposed and signed into law several hugely important pieces of legislation that forever changed the landscape of the United States.
I’d also say, though, that this report strikes me as odd on a psychological level. I would think that of all the people in the world to realize that Ted Kennedy has been a far more effective and important advocate of progressive causes than JFK ever was, that Ted himself would be high on that list. Would he admit publicly that his brother’s deification is largely undeserved? Of course no. But who isn’t privately painfully aware of his family members’ shortcomings?