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Is the Kennedy clan really cursed?

Is the Kennedy clan really cursed?

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ne: 03-05-2010, 18:16:29
Is the Kennedy clan really cursed?

Everyone since Roman times has known that if you raise your head above the parapet there is a good chance it will get shot off.

Nearly 50 years ago a generation of Kennedys, three brothers in particular, were persuaded to put their heads up, and in moments of authentically epoch-making horror not one but two of them paid the ultimate price.

Ordinarily the assassination of a US attorney general would have been one of the defining moments of modern American history. Instead, when Sirhan Sirhan gunned down Robert F Kennedy in June 1968, it was soon being described almost as a mere coda or footnote to the Dallas shooting of JFK five years earlier.

The myth begins...

Two brothers, any brothers, murdered in five years is clearly unusual, and on a personal level the events were undeniably tragic. That said in gun-happy America senior politicians are surely more likely to be targeted than ordinary Joes. But twice? In one family?

Unsurprisingly rumours soon began to circulate about what has become known as the Kennedy Curse. Believers started looking back through the decades in the hope of finding more 'evidence' - and, perhaps inevitably, they did, and continue to do so.

Today these same people will cheerfully enumerate all the incidents. Airplanes falling out of the sky, a couple of serious car wrecks, near-fatal illnesses, infant mortality, death on the slopes, and drugs. OK, that looks like enough to build a hill of beans, but does it really add up to a curse?

Death by misadventure

Looking first at the aviation angle. On 12 August 1944 Joseph Kennedy Jr was killed when his B-24 Liberator bomber exploded in mid-air. But it was wartime, Kennedy's mission was officially rated as hazardous and, with more than 400,000 American in-service deaths his is hardly exceptional.

Admittedly a second crash near Lyons three years later claimed the life of his sister Kathleen. But as scandalised critics pointed out at the time, the boisterous 'Kick' as she was known was only on board as the lover of the married Earl Fitzwilliam. Divine retribution? Or maybe just death by misadventure.

Similarly, when John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Jr died piloting a little Piper one night in 1999, it is tempting to conclude that he too had no business being there. Unqualified to fly 'by instruments' and only recently out of plaster, he had both radios set to the wrong frequency and had failed to file a flight plan.

The normal tragedies of family life

Fifty years earlier, John Jr's aunt Rosemary had been treated for mental illness, but surely this just emphasises that the Kennedys are simply another ordinary American family. Like the rest of us they get ill, and when they do they seek treatment.

Likewise, when JFK's wife Jackie gave birth to a stillborn girl in 1956, it was clearly a personal tragedy but not an especially unusual one. Even now, in a medically advanced society like America, almost 1% of births end this way - equivalent to one every 20 minutes.

It is true that Jackie lost another child five years later, born six weeks prematurely the boy lived for only two days. But here again, while in no way diminishing the sadness, obstetric difficulties such as these are hardly rare and were commonplace half a century ago.

More so, one has to say, in large families. JFK was one of nine children, he and his siblings produced more than 30 others, with Bobby alone fathering no fewer than 11 children. No family escapes tragedy completely, and certainly not when it is as extensive as this one.

Contributing factors

One could say too that particularly in a large family the odd maverick, such as 'Kick', is bound to emerge. And when you have a wild child, is it honestly any wonder that they get into scrapes?

The death of Michael LeMoyne Kennedy in 1997 was sudden and awful: he hit a tree whilst playing ski-football with a party in Aspen, Colorado. In 1984 his brother David Anthony was not long out of rehab when he overdosed on cocaine in a Florida hotel after several days' partying.

And of course the Chappaquiddick incident, which resulted in the death of Mary Jo Kopechne when a car driven by Edward Kennedy went off a bridge into the river, has become notorious.

But wait a minute. Private aircraft, ski-football matches on famously challenging slopes, jetting off to Palm Beach for a party. Ted even had a chauffeur standing by at the party he was at, but with the clock approaching midnight for some reason decided to drive himself.

Too much macho

Compared to you and me these guys were never living a normal life, and one suspects neither did most of them want to. Maybe a big part of the problem is that certain members of the family just took too many risks.

At the Kopechne inquest Kennedy, who was never breathalysed, was described as "at least negligent and possibly reckless." Writing in Time magazine, one of Michael's fellow skiers denied the group had been warned off by an official ski patrol, but nevertheless acknowledged that "ski football has an inherent risk".

Cocaine was never the smart choice for anyone either. And as for the litany of alleged date-rapes, womanizing, drugs, arrests and affairs with babysitters - can these things sensibly be described as 'tragic' or evidence of a 'curse'. Are they not just the normal self-inflicted wounds of moneyed, powerful people with more leisuretime than direction? It is perhaps notable that the flawed patriarch of the family - Joseph, who made all the money - lived to 82, while his wife made it to an extraordinary 104.

« Editimi i fundit: 11-05-2010, 16:21:49 nga dreamm »

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