Sunday, December 4, 2016

The year was 1952..............................

     His first challenge was to give voters a reason to invest in a new senator.  After years of war, American had settled into a self-satisfied prosperity - one in which three of five families owned a car, two of three had a telephone, and the average household earned $3,900 a year, which wasn't bad since the average new home cost $9,050, gas was twenty cents a gallon, and a postage stamp could be had for three cents.  The men and women of Massachusetts were equally content with themselves and their existing senator.  On the main issues of the day, there was little to distinguish the moderate Kennedy from the moderate Lodge.  Both wanted the United States engaged with the world and Russia contained.  Both favored unions but thought they needed reforming.  Both liked budgets that balanced and smaller government.  Each had earned a Harvard degree, bore the chiseled countenance of a statesman, and came wrapped in a compelling story of wartime gallantry.  What set his brother apart, Bobby realized earlier than anyone else, was Jack's ineffable magnetism - his quiet persuasiveness, idealism without ideology, and the sense that he represented something better without his having to say specifically what.  Those were precisely the qualities that had hypnotized young Bobby when the brothers summered together on Cape Cod, and that Bobby wouldn't realize until years later that he possessed, too.  The press called it Kennedy magic.  By comparison, Lodge seemed too high-society and too yesterday; he was, after all, fifteen years older and had roots that ran back to the Puritans.  Kennedy hadn't just gotten off the boat - his family had been here for two generations.  But more recent arrivals like him - Irish and Italian, Jews and Slavs - far outnumbered Mayflower Yankees in the Bay State.

-Larry Tye,  Bobby Kennedy:  The Making of a Liberal Icon, as excerpted from the passage describing Bobby's running his brother's 1952 Senatorial campaign against Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr.

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