Young Prince Joseph III was restless. Be patient, people had counseled.
Easy for them to say. But that advice ignored two crucial considerations.
First, the young prince was a Kennedy. And, second, it was his time.
He wanted to ask them that famously resonant Kennedy question. No, no, not “what can you do for your country?” but rather, “Do you know who I am?”
He was no Prince Charles, forever waiting to be king, even as he got older and grayer and goofier. No indeed. The young prince was cut from the corduroy of Louis XIV, and he shared the Sun King’s oversized sense of himself. Once, when his carriage arrived just moments before Louis was ready to depart, the sovereign noted reprovingly: “I almost had to wait.”
The Young Prince was similarly situated. He hadn’t had to wait. Not yet. After all, running for the Senate in 2012, when he had first bought — um, sought — his House seat, would have seemed bumptious and entitled. And back then, he had been trying to downplay his Kennedyness.
But now, he was ready for the Senate — and he didn’t want to wait. So he had posted a vapid note to Facebook, publicly confirming what everyone already knew: He was eyeing the Senate seat held by fellow Democrat Ed Markey.
“I hear the folks who say I should wait my turn, but with due respect — I’m not sure this is a moment for waiting,” he wrote. “Our system has been letting down a lot of people for a long time, and we can’t fix it if we don’t challenge it.”
The system had certainly let him down. After all, he had already been in the House for nigh unto seven years, and Nancy Pelosi hadn’t yet offered to step aside so he could be speaker. Why, he wasn’t even a committee chairman, though Richie Neal and Jim McGovern both were.
But all that really stood between him and a Senate seat was that pesky Markey, who, having won the prestigious post without a famous name, now planned to run for reelection — even though the young prince had made it clear it was time for him to shuffle along.
After all, others were already getting ahead of him. Elizabeth Warren, for example. She hadn’t been in Congress any longer than he had, and now she was running for president! What did she have on the young prince, really, except brains and books and boldness and speaking ability, and other meretricious things like that?
Well, maybe he wasn’t as bright as Warren, but he wasn’t as dopey as his father, Joseph P. Kennedy II, that was for darn sure. And yet, as slogans went, “Joe III: Nowhere Near as Dense as Dad!” didn’t pack a particularly powerful punch.
But then, neither did the notion at the core of his might-be candidacy: “A Kennedy shouldn’t have to wait.”
He had tried to finesse that on Facebook. “I don’t think our democratic process promises anyone a turn,” he had written, before lapsing into the royal we: “What it does promise is the chance for anyone to earn it — if we think we have something to offer and are willing to put ourselves and our ideas out there.”
Not that he had actually put any ideas out there, mind you. There would be time for that later, once his consultants and pollsters came up with them. They’d have some challenges there, he knew. What was his reason for running against Markey, people kept asking? The Democratic incumbent, after all, was an accomplished legislator with a long record on the environment and telecommunications and airplane safety and nuclear non-proliferation and net neutrality. And yes, Markey was a national leader on climate change, and at this crucial moment.
But this race was too important to be about leadership and expertise on vital issues. It had to be about . . . about . . . well, about generational change. And youthful energy.
Then it hit the young prince: The royal we — that was the answer!
“Joe Kennedy for Senate: Because We Just Can’t Wait.”