It was an important moment in Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign, and it involved a betrayal of sorts: The Kennedys, America’s most storied political dynasty, turned their backs on their longtime alliance with the America’s other political dynasty, the Clintons, and endorsed the young U.S. senator from Illinois.
On Thursday evening, Kennedy, 54, reprised that theme at the Democratic National Convention, drawing a straight line between the unfinished work of her father, John F. Kennedy, and the lifelong goals of her uncle, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts.
“Over the past four years, we have had a president who has committed himself and his administration to the values that made America great — economic fairness, equal opportunity, and the belief that if each of us gives back to this country we love, all of us work together, there is no challenge we cannot overcome,” Kennedy said. “Those are the ideals my father and my uncles fought for. Those are the ideals I believe in. And this election is about whether we will advance those ideals or let them be swept away.”
Kennedy briefly flirted with her own political career in 2008 after then-New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton was appointed by Obama as secretary of State. But after a couple of difficult interviews, in which she was unable to articulate her reasons for wanting to be a senator, she withdrew her name from consideration.
On Thursday, she praised Obama as a champion of women’s rights, including equal pay, reproductive rights, and, indirectly, abortion rights. “His commitment to women is about even more than economic rights — it’s about healthcare, reproductive rights, and our ability to make our own decisions about ourselves, our families and our future.”
“He has the quality my father most admired in public life — courage,” she said. “Despite critics who said it wasn’t good politics, President Obama listened to my Uncle Teddy, and staked his presidency on making health care accessible to all Americans.”
Kennedy also alluded to this year’s battles over whether all health insurance providers should be compelled to provide contraception.
“As a Catholic woman, I take reproductive health seriously, and today, it is under attack,” Kennedy said. “This year alone, more than a dozen states have passed more than 40 restrictions on women’s access to reproductive health care. That’s not the kind of future I want for my daughters or your daughters. Now isn’t the time to roll back the rights we were winning when my father was president.”
©2012 Los Angeles Times