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Sunday, May 07, 2006

A father's legacy. Dozens of articles have alredy been written about Rep. Patrick Kennedy's car crash and his statement on his battle with addiction. Looking at this as fathers, I think we can all be deeply sympathetic to the problem, regardless of how we feel about his family's politics. The media has made many referances to the Kennedy legacy or "curse." Patrick grew up in a family that abused alcohol. A number of his cousins have battled addiction, two have died from drug overdoses. What struck me was the strange parallel with his father's life. I'm old enough to remember July 19, 1969, the day the U.S. landed on the moon. That is the same day that the news story broke about a young senator's car accident. The young senator (he was 35) was in his first term. He apparently had been drinking when he lost control of his car. The local police were slow to investigate and the family's PR counselors jumped in with statements denying that he was intoxicated, although it was later proved he'd been drinking heavily. The unfortunate senator was, of course, Edward Kennedy, Patrick's father. The car accident on Chappaquiddick Island resulted in the death of Mary Jo Kopechne. Patrick has had to follow in his father's footsteps in many areas. As the Washington Post noted in its coverage,
Rep. James Moran(D-Va.), who spoke with Kennedy about the crash, said his friend is "concerned no one is going to give him the benefit of the doubt."

"He's had his struggle with a life he didn't ask for but he has to accept," Moran said. "I think he wants more than anything to earn his father's respect and prove to his constituents in Rhode Island he's much more than someone who's getting by on the Kennedy name."

Senator Edward Kennedy, 73, has born more than his share of sorrow. I'm sure he regrets many aspects of Patrick's upbringing. All he can do now is to hope that his son has enough inner strength and pride to successfully battle the disease of addiction.

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