Category Archives: People in Politics

Political Lives

Absolutely fascinating story in The Politico about Andrew Young, former aide to Sen. John Edwards. Lurid at times, pathetic at others, revealing intriguing and troubling aspects of human nature that came to the surface in the relationship between an aspiring operative and the politician he admired.

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Van Jones bio

Van Jones bio. Since a lot of people are searching that term right now, I thought I’d slap it up here and point you to what info I do have on the man.

So if you’ve come to the site looking for Van Jones bio….check out some of the recent posts. Wikipedia’s entry isn’t half bad.

I’ve noticed there’s not much about his experience at UT Martin out there, particularly the important fact of what he actually studied. Some bits of information indicate it was journalism, but I can’t confirm that.

Van Jones bio.

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Breitbart on Ted Kennedy, Michael Jackson

More brilliance from Breitbart. From the piece:

“Our country was not built to support blood dynasties or to elevate the rich and famous to a higher ethical or constitutional plain. But through the power of celebrity, Mr. Kennedy and Mr. Jackson worked the media to twist truths. They manipulated their constituencies and fans to obscure their misdeeds. They played the faithful to confer this manufactured innocence on the rest of us. And, in the end, they placed themselves above the law.”

“Forty years have passed since Chappaquiddick. Immediately after the accident, Mr. Kennedy scrambled to organize the best and brightest to save his career, rather than to save the life of 28-year-old Mary Jo Kopechne.”

…”Upon the deaths of Mr. Jackson and Mr. Kennedy, the media continue to erase their ugly backgrounds hoping their eternal celebrity can serve these collective ideals.”

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Edward M. Kennedy (1932 – 2009)

There’s been a lot of worthy – and some not so worthy – reflections on the life of Edward Kennedy. While I am not an admirer of the man or his family, I also believe it is fitting to reflect on positive aspects of his life at the time of his passing. Many of his colleagues have praised his skill and diligence as a legislator, one of the highest compliments a public official could hope for.

At the same time, it is also important to look soberly upon the private life of this public figure, if we care about a realistic understanding of who he was.

We all have all failed and made mistakes, and wrestle with our own difficult challenges. Growth and redemption – on multiple levels – is available to all. The question is whether one grabs hold of and fights to realize these opportunities.

His defenders say Kennedy most certainly did, while the critics contend otherwise.

  • Here’s a relatively generous piece by staunch conservative George F. Will in the Washington Post, who writes that on balance, Kennedy’s life was positive. Beyond that, Will asserts Ted may have even become the most consequential Kennedy.
  • And a more skeptical take by Dominc Lawson of the Sunday Times, who evaluates the decedent’s life as a “gruesomely public display of emotional neediness.” Some interesting historical context by Lawson as well, on the topic of the personal lives of significant figures on the Left.
  • Jonah Goldberg, in the online pages of National Review, writes that liberals celebrate Ted Kennedy for “never abandoning his fundamental principles.” Neither should conservatives in the current health care debate, in spite of potential sympathy-infused arguments from Democrats, says the author.

I’ll leave it at that for now on Kennedy. On a related note, it appears his widow, Vicki Kennedy, may be tapped to assume the now vacant Senate seat from Massachusetts despite her possible reluctance.

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The changing face of public service

There was a largely unnoticed piece today in The Hill about former Bush White House staffers running for office in the 2010 elections. It made me think about the changing nature of public service, the professionalization of the political class, and the competing claims of what constitutes an ideal model of a public servant.

Ever since I was old enough to think about politics, I have had an attachment to the citizen statesman. The man or woman who serves out of a sense of duty,  brings years of real world experience to the job, and returns home after the job is done. I still believe in the concept of the citizen politician, and probably always will.

However, in recent years I have had to consider whether I hold a somewhat romanticized notion of what marks the idealized elected official biography. While a background outside of government may indicate that the person has pursued goals other than political power, and hopefully has impressed upon that person that government can not and should not attempt to manage all aspects of society, an individual with extensive political experience could certainly be a superior candidate in some cases.

This is particularly true today due to the massive scale of government and resulting specialization and professionalization of its functions and human resources. This is not a good thing of course, but it is a reality, at least at the federal level and to a certain degree among the states as well.

Some have argued that this reality makes the case against term limits as well – that institutional memory held by long-serving politicians is necessary to the effective functioning of government and its multitudinous extensions. Of course, an argument against term-limits is closely related to an argument against the widespread necessity of citizen politicians.

While on the whole I believe legislative term limits are healthy for republican government, the aforementioned massive scope, specialization and professionalization of government also would seem to suggest that seasoned politicians certainly have something special to offer in some cases. To an extent, this would apply to career political aides and operatives who eventually throw their hat in the ring themselves.

Admittedly this is something of a sprawling, inside baseball kind of discussion today. Why does it matter? Well, we’re talking about the people to whom we are entrusting our country and our freedoms.

Bottom line is that while I still hold to the ideal of the citizen statesman, I am open to the idea that political professionals in some cases – the elected variety and those behind the scenes – may be well suited to serve. As this trend continues however, we must be vigilant in ensuring that candidates accustomed to working within government are not also acclimated to the idea of its inevitable expansion.

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Keeping it in the family: new book asserts RFK-Jackie affair

The New York Post today previews a soon-to-be released book entitled Bobbie and Jackie: A Love Story. Hat tip to Jason Barnes and the NewsMax news roundup. Author C. David Heymann, who has spent decades researching the book, writes that Jackie Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy began the affair after President John F. Kennedy‘s assasination. Robert was married to his wife, Ethel Kennedy.

If the book’s basic contention is true, it further tarnishes the Kennedy mystique. This is a family that is not and was not ever perfect – quite nearly the opposite, in some respects, as infidelity now seems to have been rampant. While glamour reigned on the surface with the help of the media, the Kennedy days were never truly  Camelot.

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