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Boston Common - Niche Media - A side of Boston that's anything but common.

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senior vice president of US programs for Save the Children. Mark Shriver is the Robert, Edward, and John were very close; when Edward was born, John asked to be named as his godfather. Despite their age differences, brothers is an Emmy Award-winning film producer who has helped further the discussion of AIDS. youngest child of RFK, Rory Kennedy, the Jr.). The authors range from journalists to self-described former lovers and Secret Service agents—his and hers. But with the possible exception of Taraborrelli's book, accounts of the chil- dren of the JFK-era Kennedys are footnotes in the best-seller lists. Leamer believes they lack the proverbial "fire in the belly," and also criticizes what he sees as a political and personal network that has protected the younger gen- erations from harsh political reality, not always to their advantage. But most are on the cusp of adulthood and just now emerging on the national scene. T "There's no question that [the Kennedy name] remains a major advan- tage," says columnist and PBS commentator Mark Shields, who worked on campaigns for both RFK and Sargent Shriver. "It ensures a long list of supporters and admirers. But now it's more of an introductory credential; after that it's a question of the individual candidate. By all accounts, young Joe is quite appealing and personable—he'd probably be a good candidate if his name were Joe Kelly or Joe Goldberg." C ertainly the love affair with the JFK-era Kennedys shows no sign of cooling. Celebrity biographer J. Randy Taraborrelli published After Camelot, his second Kennedy book, in April. In May, Columbia University professor Alan Brinkley released his John F. Kennedy from the American Presidents he same year that Mark Kennedy Shriver lost his congressional race, his cousin, Maryland Lieutenant Governor Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, eldest daughter of Robert Kennedy, failed in her attempt to become governor. Leamer also points to Caroline Kennedy's unsteady bid for the New York Senate seat vacated by Hillary Clinton in 2008. (He has said that she found the media spotlight "brutal.") Even more intriguing, Leamer says Caroline's brother, the late John F. Kennedy Jr.— the one forever captured saluting his father's coffin—would have run for that same Senate seat in 1999 but backed off when Clinton announced her interest. "He'd had polls done showing he was leading her, but he just didn't have the desire," Leamer offers. There are plenty of reasons the Kennedys would shun the spotlight. "There's not a lot of joy in politics these days," Shields points out. "When is the last time you heard somebody say politics is an honorable profession or a high calling? Nowadays what you hear is that public office is a terrible burden, that politicians aren't admired or respected." Too many family members have seen the downsides of celebrity, and not only because of series, and former Boston Globe journalist Tina Cassidy published Jackie After O. TV pundit Chris Matthews' Jack Kennedy: Elusive Hero came out in November; Bill O'Reilly is set to weigh in on JFK's assassination this fall. Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr.'s 1964 taped interviews with Jackie Kennedy were published in September 2011, and like Matthews' book became a best seller. Mark Kennedy Shriver's affectionate memoir of his father, Sargent Shriver, A Good Man, has a June publication date. "It's a cultural phenomenon that, frankly, I would have expected to die out years ago," says journalist Laurence Leamer, whose trilogy of best-selling studies of the Kennedy family (The Kennedy Women, The Kennedy Men, and Sons of Camelot) reflects a somewhat darker view of the legacy. In fact, just since 2010, more than a dozen Kennedy books have made headlines, most focused on Jack and Jackie (plus three about John Kennedy 102 the successive assassinations of Jack and Bobby Kennedy. Two of JFK's siblings, his older brother Joe and his sister Kathleen, died in plane crashes, and Teddy nearly did—but that didn't stop John F. Kennedy Jr. from flying his own plane into a storm. The fam- ily currently is mourning the recent suicide of RFK Jr.'s ex-wife, Mary Richardson Kennedy. And several family members have struggled with issues of addiction and domestic turmoil. But perhaps it's simply that the younger Kennedys have turned their famous faces in another direction. Whether or not they inherited the appe- tite for rough-and-tumble politicking from their parents—not to mention their grandfather, FDR confidant Ambassador Joseph P. Kennedy, and their great-grandparents, Massachusetts pols P.J. Kennedy and three-time Boston mayor John "Honey Fitz" Fitzgerald—an impressive number of Kennedy cousins have chosen to use their connections to further charitable causes. The phrase "of those to whom much is given, much is required," a photography by aLan banD/Keystone/getty images (rFK); riccarDo s. saVi/Wireimage (shriVer); LUcien capehart photography inc/getty images (rory)

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