Feature

Resurrecting Camelot

Sen. Edward Kennedy's endorsement of Barack Obama pushed Bill and Hillary Clinton into the past, said David Brooks in The New York Times, by handing Obama the torch once carried by John F. Kennedy. Trotting out "remnants of America's once-upon-a-time

What happenedBarack Obama launched a campaign push ahead of next week’s Super Tuesday presidential primaries armed with endorsements from Sen. Edward Kennedy and several other influential Democrats. Obama advisers said the Illinois senator is hoping that the nod from Kennedy and his niece Caroline Kennedy—who said Obama reminded her of her father, John F. Kennedy—will help him rival Hillary Clinton’s arsenal of support from the party’s establishment. (The Wall Street Journal)

What the commentators said“Something fundamental has shifted in the Democratic Party,” said David Brooks in The New York Times (free registration). Teddy Kennedy has just handed Obama the torch of the generation that saw World War II and “marched in jackets and ties.” That casts Bill and Hillary Clinton—who “are as old as the Trumans were in 1960”—into the past, and gives young Americans what they are seeking—a leader who, like JFK, chooses the “high road” over the “low road,” and “service” over “selfishness.”

“Kennedy declared Obama to be nothing less than his brother's rightful heir,” said Karen Tumulty in Time.com. With Hillary Clinton leading in all but two of the 22 states that will vote on Super Tuesday, the endorsement gives Obama a boost he needs, “particularly in places, such as the Latino community, where Obama remains an unknown quantity and the Kennedy name still carries enormous emotion.”

It was easy to believe in JFK’s Camelot 48 years ago, said the New York Post in an editorial (free registration). But trotting out “venerable remnants of America’s once-upon-a-time royal family” can’t undo the “time and truth” that have “tattered” the Kennedy myth. JFK “led a nation more or less at peace into the Vietnam War,” and Teddy Kennedy, who was first elected to the Senate in 1962, was “a bitter opponent” of welfare reform, the “most refreshing” policy shift of the 1990s. These are agents of change? Sorry. “Camelot died a long time ago.”

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