I watched The Curse of Power on the Kennedys on the History Channel. This goes over all the bad things that have happened to the Kennedy clan and the idea that maybe this family is cursed. Now I don’t put much stock in the curse idea – they are a powerful family and have powerful enemies and add in that they all believed in living life with gusto – they would try or do anything and believed they could get away with everything. I’ve read several Kennedy books and it all adds up to sex, scandal and power. But it does make good TV, hence all the shows. This one wasn’t too bad, it was fairly tasteful and done well.
The program starts with the first immigrants and then covers Joe Kennedy’s background. Interestingly while Joe Kennedy gave the idea that he came from poor stock, he actually came from a well-to-do background, but he just made it so much bigger and more powerful. As an Irish Catholic, he found that he was left out of certain things and so decided he could buy his way into the establishment. Joe believed that everything and everyone had a price and he could fix anything. And it seemed he could. If one of the boys got into trouble, he could fix it and it never happened. It was only after he was incapacitated with a stroke that scandals began to leak out. Joe Kennedy started the infidelity, Rose actually left him the first time and her father sent her back to him.
Joe’s biggest accomplishment was being named Ambassador to Great Britain, as this was the most coveted US governmental post and he was able to return to Britain as a respected politician and thus feel he had beaten the establishment. Joe was actually against World War II because he knew his boys would have to fight and he didn’t want that. To Joe, family was always first. And he was right, Joe, Jr., died in World War II. Around this time, his daughter Kathleen (Kick), also died in a plane crash in Europe. She had married into English nobility, but had turned her back on Catholicism, which her mother saw as the ultimate break. Rosemary Kennedy had mental problems and her father had a lobotomy preformed on her and then had her institutionalized.
Now we all know what happened to JFK and RFK. What I found interesting was that Bobby was so much more the politician than Jack, but it was Ted who was the consummate politician. Now as someone who only remembers the old Ted Kennedy, the early pictures made me giggle a bit. Ted ended up divorced from his first wife – Jack had told him at his wedding that marriage didn’t mean fidelity and this was actually caught on tape – that his wife saw later…can you imagine that?
The last facet of this is JFK, Jr,’s death in 1999 in a small plane crash.