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EDWARD KENNEDY: The Myth of Leadership by

EDWARD KENNEDY: The Myth of Leadership


Pub Date: May 27th, 1980
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Those with a proclivity for reading the last page first will find the authors wondering if, not just Kennedy, but ""any man or woman"" in the White House would really make a difference. This vapid conclusion follows a standard portrait of Ted Kennedy by Boston University political scientist Levin (Kennedy Campaigning) and reporter Repak, hypothesizing that Kennedy probably would not be a ""great"" president although he would promote social legislation. The authors review the familiar Kennedy family ties (""Edward Kennedy is not only Edward Kennedy""); the 1962 Senate campaign exemplifying a superbly-organized machine; and Kennedy's 17 senate years marked by an ""erratic"" legislative record. As Senate Whip, Kennedy tried to handle that job's household chores while promoting Democratic Party policies; and, we are told, ""failed miserably in both roles."" Chappaquiddick aborted his leadership role on ""moral issues""; and as Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman, Kennedy has been ""a professional politician and not a moralist""--pleasing business by promoting ""free-market competition"" and pacifying liberals with the Freedom of Information Act, but avoiding ""explosive"" moral issues like gun control and the death penalty. On subjects like inflation and energy, the authors see Kennedy as similar to Carter; and in foreign policy the differences are said to be stylistic (a ""more personal element"" with Kennedy). Should he be nominated, Levin and Repak urge a centrist position to attract liberals and moderates. All told, a drab affair that celebrates nothing but the status quo.