Barack Obama receives the endorsement of Caroline Kennedy.
Noting the endorsement of Barack Obama by the Kennedy clan, I’m reminded of those who think this campaign is "about race" just because black voters in S.C. went for Obama so big.
This got me to thinking about 1960. What I was thinking was that JFK’s own demographic probably went just as big for him, but no one would ghettoize him. Obviously, he could not have been elected if those were the only folks who preferred him to his opponent.
I haven’t found anything that speaks directly to my question regarding the Irish, but I did find this. Here’s an excerpt from a synopsis of The American Catholic Voter: Two Hundred Years Of Political Impact, by George J. Marlin, with the relevant part highlighted:
Marlin’s analysis provides an in-depth look at two of the more celebrated Catholic election contests, the candidacy of Al Smith in 1928 and the election of John F. Kennedy in 1960. Where Smith was hurt by anti-Catholicism outside the major cities, Kennedy was able to hold together the old FDR coalition. As Marlin noted, the 1960 election of JFK was a victory not for Catholicism, but for liberalism. The tenuous hold the Democratic Party had on Catholics — Kennedy received 70% of the Catholic vote after Ike had "stolen" millions of them in 1952 and 1956 — camouflaged the fact that Kennedy’s Catholic vote percentage was 10 percentage points lower than what Al Smith had received, not withstanding the efforts by the Kennedy family, a supportive liberal media, and big city machines like Chicago’s Richard Daley that pulled out all the stops for JFK.
Note that Al Smith got 80 percent of the Catholic vote, doing better than Obama did with black voters in SC. Of course, being so identified with the Catholic vote, he lost the election. The Clintons hope to convince Democrats that Obama is Al Smith — or more specifically, Jesse Jackson. which is the modern equivalent.
But the Kennedy clan believe he’s JFK in this race. They see him as someone who transcends his own putative demographic group, even though members of that group may for their part take great pride in him. They suggest that his charisma, a quality that reaches across all demographics, a quality that distinguished JFK from Smith, makes him the natural heir to Camelot. In that, they agree with President Kennedy’s closest adviser, Ted Sorensen.
Think I’m exaggerating? Read the op-ed piece by the princess of Camelot herself, headlined "A President Like My Father." And excerpt:
OVER the years, I’ve been deeply moved by the people who’ve told me they wished they could feel inspired and hopeful about America the way people did when my father was president. This sense is even more profound today. That is why I am supporting a presidential candidate in the Democratic primaries, Barack Obama….
Sometimes it takes a while to recognize that someone has a special ability to get us to believe in ourselves, to tie that belief to our highest ideals and imagine that together we can do great things. In those rare moments, when such a person comes along, we need to put aside our plans and reach for what we know is possible.
We have that kind of opportunity with Senator Obama. It isn’t that the other candidates are not experienced or knowledgeable. But this year, that may not be enough. We need a change in the leadership of this country — just as we did in 1960….
Rep. Patrick Kennedy, D-R.I., Caroline Kennedy, Barack Obama, Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass.