Which Kennedy Brother Would Have Made the Best President

Which of the four sons of Joseph Kennedy Sr. would have made the best President of the US?

My family lived in Massachusetts in the early '60s, when I was a small misspelling. My Mom said Teddy was the best Senator of the three surviving Kennedy boys. JFK and RFK had their eyes on higher office. Whatever you think of Ted’s politics or personal life, he ran a very effective Senate office.

It’s not really answerable, particularly given that Joe Jr. was killed before he had a chance to show people what he was made of.

IMHO Bobby edges out Jack. JFK was probably more pragmatic. He could inspire, but his agenda seemed fuzzy. RFK could also cut a deal when he had to, but he seemed to be more driven by ideology. Politcally, you can argue that his agenda wouldn’t have been good for the country, but you knew exactly where he stood.

Of course, I’m bitter and cynical enough to think that if RFK had become president, he would have still been assasinated at some point.

As for Teddy, as they say in the South, “bless his heart.” He clearly didn’t have the stomach to go for it. He was a much better fit for the Senate, where he could use his family name and institutional influence to affect key pieces of legislation, rather than taking on all the problems of a presidency.

Wha? Ted Kennedy ran for President in 1980, losing to Carter (who lost to Reagan). Chappaquiddick was a millstone around his neck, and he is famously quoted as not wanting to get his “ass shot off” – and who can blame him? – but he clearly had the “stomach.” I agree, though, that he was a great senator, and need not have regretted not running earlier.

Jello Biafra.

Or as New Zealand gel Shona Laing says (Glad I’m) Not a Kennedy

JFK was the best, who knows what he could have achieved if he had lived.

Ted was, being kind, extremely average.
And that is being EXTREMELY kind.

Joseph Junior by all accounts was pretty arrogant - he had been raised as the Crown Prince who would assume the throne. It’s probably just as well he didn’t become President.

Teddy had the burden of outliving his brothers. They were all legends and he was just a human being. He never really was able to get out from under their shadows.

Bobby played the bad cop to John’s good cop. But it was a natural role for him. Bobby could be an angry and spiteful person against his enemies. A President needs to be more willing to rise above it.

So I say the one who was President was the best choice for the job.

I was always impressed by Robert Kennedy’s (apparently impromptu) remarks to an Indianapolis audience on the death of Martin Luther King Jr. A link to the YouTube video and a transcript of his speech are here. He’s eloquent, thoughtful and even literate (quoting Aeschylus). Supposedly there were no riots in Indianapolis, unlike many other cities. I wish we would have had the chance to see what he could have done as president.

I voted for Ted. JFK is an unfinished book. He performed admirably in the Cuban Missile Crisis (can you imagine if W was president then?) but we’ll never know what he would have ultimately did in Vietnam or if he could have passed the Civil Rights Act. RFK never got to act on the big stage, but my sense is that he would have surpassed JFK if given the chance. Ted actually got things done in the Senate.

Could he have won the election? All the liberals of his type-McGovern, Mondale, Dukakis were defeated by landslides and Carter only won by the virtue of Watergate and because he postured himself as a centrist and even then only barely. Indeed Kennedy in 1980 ran to the left of Carter and Carter got practically buried by Reagan.

JFK wanted the job and was good at it. He had the temperament and the flexibility to do it well. Bobby seems to me in retrospect to always be trying to prove himself and that can be a bit of a distraction in politics. Ted was one of the most effective Senators ever.

This seems like retroactive categorization. Democrats who lose, lost because they were liberals. Democrats who won, won because they were actually relatively conservative.