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Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 28, No. 1. 1965.

Kennedy 36th President?

page 7

Kennedy 36th President?

While still a United States Senator from Massachusetts the late President John F. Kennedy said, "Just as I went into politics because Joe died, if anything happened to me tomorrow my brother Bobbv would run for my seat in the Senate and if Bobby died Teddv would take over for him."

Senator Robert F. Kennedy has apparently decided to apply these words to his brother's final job, the United States Presidency—and he has an excellent chance of achieving this. ambition by the 1970's. By then Mr. Kennedy, although still in his forties, will probably have qualifications for the position of Chief Executive that no other American can match.

During almost four years as the United States Attorney-General he has appointed men of exceptional ability to the senior posts in his department, taken stronger action than any of his predecessors to ensure equal rights for negroes and other minority groups, been largely responsible for America's strongest Civil Rights Act of the century, and fought with much success crime and corruption in the country's Unions.


He has been the only government official to challenge the prestige of the autocratic FBI Director. J. Edgar Hoover. Finally, his influence in foreign policy has been considerable. Robert Kennedy success fully led the opposition to the plan to bomb the Cuban missile stations during the crisis in 1962.

All this has been achieved by the man who, at 34. was the youngest Attorney-General appointed for 150 years.

As well as this excellent administrative record in the executive sphere of government Senator Kennedy now has an important electoral success to boost his Presidential prospects. With no New York connections at all he defeated that state's Senator Kenneth Keating in the November election, becoming the first Democrat to be elected to a New York Senate seat since 1952.

Senator Keating had been a highly respected Senator. The New York Times, which supported him. described his record as "progressive, constructive and beneficial to his state and nation." This paper opposed Kennedy because of his lack of legislative or electoral experience, because of his ignorance of New York State's problems, and because he was allegedly "trying to use the office of Senator as a means to a higher end."

Kennedy defeated Keating by a large majority and although cynics claimed the victory was entirely due to the electors voting Democrat as a means of showing dissatisfac with Senator Goldwater and his right wing Republican views Kennedy's win had greater significance. He showed that despite his not having any connection with this important State, he could still defeat a Republican leader who was held in high respect and who had been an extremely capable man. This is the sort of victory a President must win. Although he may be a ranch-owner in Texas he must woo the vote of those in New York City. Senator Kennedy's victory is all the more important when viewed in this way because the man he beat had close ties with New York State.

The high stakes involved would have made a loss disastrous. Mr. Kennedy would have found him-self politically a "has-been" and an elder statesman at the ripe old age of 38.

He had, however, successfully followed the example of his brother who as an obscure Congressman defeated Senator Henry Cabot Lodge in 1952. His reasoning: "When you've beaten him you've beaten the best—why try for less."

Robert Kennedy is now well on the way to becoming the Democrat leader of the state that provides 1/6th of the delegates required to nominate a President and 1/6th of the electoral votes required to elect one. His brother. Senator Edward Kennedy of Massachussetts, will undoubtedly use his influence to persuade the local politicians in the New England group of states to support the New York Senator.

A "Kennedy" by marriage. Sargent Shriver may be in a position to help. He is the Director of the Peace Corps, perhaps the most successful of President Kennedy's six New Frontier plans. He is currently running President Johnson's antipoverty campaign and the President has called him "the most capable administrator I know. Schriver is widely expected to stand for the position of Governor of Illinois in 1968. If he were successful as would seem likely his brother-in-law would have the support of the leader of another large state. Illinois has 26 of the 270 electoral votes Mr. Kennedy would require.

The Kennedy legend will give the Senator an advantage over his opposition. The story of the Kennedys is a story of youthful, glamourous and hard-earned success cut short by tragedy, and with the greatest achievements still to come. The emotional appeal of the story is International. The shock and grief which was felt at the President's assassination will probably never be felt on such a large scale again and the appeal of the story is lasting. When the Senator went to Poland in the latter half of 1964. 15,000 people gathered in a Warsaw district one day to cheer him. No information as to his movements had been given to them.

The hard-baked delegates to the Democrat Party convention in New York last year were no exception. As Robert Kennedy was about to introduce a memorial film of his late brother the delegates applauded him continuously for eleven minutes. The New York Times reported that wherever he went he was "cheered, pawed and fussed over by the delegates." The delegates also respect Senator Kennedy for his own achievement in 1960 when he was his brother's campaign manager for the Presidential election. His ability to unite diametrically opposed factions of the Democrat party, his efficient organisation, and his immense capacity for hard work, had been noticed during the election campaign.


Robert Kennedy's efficiency and courage in dealing with opponents have caused charges of ruthlessness. Perhaps his father. Joseph P. Kennedy, gave the most effective answer to this in 1960. He said, "any man of action is called ruthless. It's ridiculous. Jack works as hard as any man can. Bobby goes a little further." Certainly the enemies made by the Senator during his years as Counsel for the Senate's Committee investigating Union Rackets and later as Attorney-General deserve no sympathy. They include the Teamsters' Union head. James Hoffa. who was recently sentenced to heavy prison terms for attempting to bribe a juror and for misappropriating Union Funds. Other enemies include the former Governor of Alabama and ardent segregationalist George Wallace.

No one has yet doubted that Robert Kennedy wants to become President. The Senator's political statements and actions are íncom-patible with any other aim.

The Senator's chances of becoming President are good. He is young and, if he chooses, he can wait. This however is unlikely; Kennedy's do not work their way slowly towards an object — they storm it. At the moment it appears that Mr. Kennedy will not be able to put his qualifications to the test until 1972 when President Johnson, re-elected in 1968. would be constitutionally ineligible to serve another term. The Senator acknowledged that he will have to wait until then when he told New York voters that if he were elected he would have to serve as Senator until 1972 as there would be "no place to go until that year."

In the next seven years, Mr. Kennedy will attempt to establish a legislative record that he can eventually present to the country.

He will also seek to establish him-self as leader of the New York Democrat Party winch now controls the government of the Empire State.

Kennedy will also continue to comment on and perhaps officially advise the present administration in matters of foreign policy. All these factors will mean that although still in his forties. Senator Robert Kennedy should be one of the best qualified and, if segregationalist antipathy diminishes, perhaps most acceptable Presidential candidates of this century.

In eight years time we shall know whether the people of the United States want such a man to be their President.

To complement John McGrath's analysis of Robert Kennedy's political future, reprinted below are excerpts from a welcoming address given by Mr. Kennedy to the Pax Romana. Conference at Georgetown University. Washington, in July, 1964. The address was to university studentsdelegates from more than 100 student federations representing over 70 countries attended.

In the early years of universities, it was possible to wrestle for decades with the deep and divisive problems of the Reformation, Later, mankind could take a century to digest the astonishing revelations of Copernican astronomy. But today there is no such time. The number, importance and rapidity of the problems that bedevil mankind increase by the day. They are larger. They are more urgent. And they are incomparably more numerous.

Yesterday, we sought telescopes good enough to see all the planets. Today, we seek vehicles good enough to reach them.

Yesterday, we fought wars which destroyed cities. Today, we are concerned with avoiding a war which will destroy the earth. We can adapt atomic energy to produce electricity and move ships, but can we control its use in anger? Automation provides us with wondrous increases of production and information, but does it tell us what to do with the men the machines displace? Modern industry gives us the capacity for unparalleled wealth—but where is our capacity to make that wealth meaningful to the poor of every nation?

These are not problems to be mulled over and adjusted to for a century; they must be solved in a single generation, in this generation—or even sooner. How we respond to those problems—and the new ones that surely will come hard on their heels—will determine the shape of the world.

These problems are not for individuals to solve. They are not even for individual nations to solve unaided. As our problems grow more complex, our world grows smaller, and our need for solutions becomes common.


Satellite communications connect television screens in Japan with television cameras in England and the distance of half a world loses its meaning. The supersonic airplanes now under development will make it possible to fly from New York to many of your countries in the interval between breakfast and lunch. But the resulting need for increased international sensitivity is not a problem for Americans alone. The same planes will fly you to America with the same speed and we will call on you to understand us, also.

Just as distance comes to be measured in hours and even minutes, ideas must come to be measured by their merit, not their national origin. As the frame-work pulls together, so must its occupants. We become, whether we choose it or not, citizens of the world. What we can choose—and what you as men and women of learning and faith have a responsibility to choose—is to become world citizens who can make tolerant and educated Judgments concerning problems not only of our own lives and lands, but of men everywhere.

In my country, as in yours, I think there is substantial cause for optimism about how youth will fulfil this responsibility. In the United States young men and women are increasingly concerned with the society around them— both at home and abroad. Thousands work on behalf of civil rights or t he underprivileged. Large numbers are constructively involved in politics and public service. And you all know of the idealism and the dedication of the young Americans serving in the Peace Corps.

In mv travels, I have observed similar idealism and similar involvement by students elsewhere, whether in spirited activity for their own countries or in the work of the Peace Corps established by other countries.


These concerns, by young people in your countries and in mine, stem in part from the intensified concern of our countries as a whole for the problems of society. And these concerns also stem from your training. You seek education not merely to become intellectual tradesmen, but to become humane and thoughtful men and women. I know you will continue to feel these concerns as part of the legacy of your education and your faith.

So there is no need for me to come and exhort you to develop such concern for your fellow men. What I would like to do instead is ask whether you will continue to act on behalf of those deeply-felt concerns. There is a danger, growing out of your university experience, that you will not do so. The very education which has helped expand your awareness of the problems of other men is the same education which prepares you for a place in society far removed from those problems.

The carpeted office of the medical specialist in the United States has little relationship to the ailing peasant child in Latin America. The philosopher's study in Europe is a century away from the hovels of the Asian poor. The research laboratory does not produce concern over militarism in a faraway country.

As the skilled and professional people of your nations and the world, you will be escalated out of contact with the large number of people in the world whose principal worries are hunger and hope.

You will be equipped to live, work, think and travel in the very latest day of the 20th century. You will read and hear about poverty and tyranny; you will be aware, concerned, and sympathetic. But will you also work to lend your talents to the service of your society—and of all societies of this shrinking planet?


One of (he most energetic figures of my country's history, Theodore Roosevelt, declared in 1899 that, "our country calls not for the life of ease, but for the life of strenuous endeavour. The Twentieth Century looms before us, big with the fate of many nations."

That prediction may be even more valid and even more far-reaching now than when it was uttered. There has, perhaps, never been a time in the history of the world, when the gap between college and community has been smaller, when the need for active involvement by young people has been stronger, and the opportunity for them to do things of significance has been greater.

This was a point which President Kennedy recognised and emphasised. "I ask you to decide," he was fond of saying to university audiences, "I ask you to decide, as Goethe put it, whether you will be an anvil or a hammer."

The opportunity is greatest in public service. The governments of our countries need and deserve the enlistment of the best minds of the coming generation. As problems grow, the challenge of leadership grows.

But even if you choose a private profession, there is still broad opportunity for participation in the affairs of your society. The English word "idiot" comes from the Greek for a person who did not participate in public affairs. But the word "university" comes from the Latin for "all together."

The point is there is a need for individual participation. All of us have to participate. All of us are needed. The question is whether to be a critic or a participant. The question is whether to bring a candle to the barricade or to curse the darkness.

At this great assembly, devoted to social responsibility," I think the choice must be for light.

Let us go forward to make that choice, as President Kennedy once said, "asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on earth, God's work must truly be our own."

Robert F. Kennedy

Robert F. Kennedy