JFK Jr...and why he mattered so much

By Mark Vorzimmer
web posted August 2, 1999

I told my wife I was going to write a piece about JFK Jr., and apparently because of the tone of my voice (one of frustration from watching non-stop media coverage of the "event") she warned me: "Well, just don't attack him, it's not his fault he was famous!"

And, she is right. It is not JFK Jr.'s fault that the media has begun doling out worship in no recognizable relationship to anything anyone has done to deserve it. As JFK Jr. himself recognized, there is a "...disconnect between what [we] in the media find interesting and what you as citizens and voters think is important." He similarly lamented, "...how the press [has] mutated" into a separate class, with its own particular aspirations and agendas increasingly estranged from the general public. And it is on the subject of the late JFK Jr. where the media have most dramatically demonstrated this sentiment.

Asking who JFK Jr. was is not a benign question, for neither the media nor JFK Jr. himself told us who he was. As with Princess Diana -- who disliked land mines, leprosy, AIDS, and all things bad -- we may have come to know the surface, the thin veneer of his socially acceptable thoughts and views, but we've heard little of anything more.

There are some fairly common notions, undoubtedly, to which it could be stipulated, most Americans (or British, for that matter) agree; most dislike many of the same things-obvious things like, well, land mines, leprosy and AIDS. However, as with pleasurable things in life-ice cream, material well being, and most things enjoyable to the senses-knowing the commonplace likes and dislikes of people still doesn't tell you much about their character.

Establishing character and ridding yourself of the paparazzi forever

My wife scolded me for pointing out that the late Princess Diana never dug ditches for the poor. Diana's obsession with weight was from a "nervous stomach" (as the British would say), not the dysentery that kept Mother Teresa at fighting weight most of her life, working with the downtrodden. Although we can't all be Mother Teresa, the duties we choose say a lot about our character.

Unless one coincidentally holds exactly the same views as mainstream media, which is highly unlikely, others are bound to learn something of your character. That is, if you have the fortitude to publicly hold provocative, unpopular, or complex views. If Princess Diana or Sean Penn really wanted the Paparazzi to leave them alone, all they had to do was issue a short statement regarding any one of the following: 1) How they thought abortion really might be the taking of innocent human life; 2) How they thought homosexual behavior might be contributing to the spread of AIDS; 3) How they recently read some contemporary research on gun ownership, and now believe "gun control" may endanger human life, rather than protect it; or, any of the other views so unpopular with the mainstream press. More than being unpopular, these are dangerous views-the simple holding of which may jeopardize your life of fame, and in most cases, your comfort. One thing is certain; however, they are views that tell us much about the character of those who hold them.

Fighting the crown...224 years later

The media has said that the Kennedys were the closest thing to American royalty we've known. This oft-repeated line says as much about the media's political fascinations as it does about social context. It perhaps also tells us much about why they've been so unbalanced over JFK Jr.'s death.

Beyond simply not being anything close to royalty, the Kennedys were not even an especially successful political family. JFK was elected by one of the smallest majorities in presidential politics (to say nothing of the curious voter fraud that may have swung the election in his direction), and by all appearances would not have been reelected. Senator Teddy Kennedy, while more successful, has consistently and unrepentingly supported a brand of socialist policies that have been entirely discredited on both an international and domestic scale. Reps. Joseph P. and Patrick Kennedy are more of the same...much more. Although Robert Kennedy may have been different, his assassination would forever conceal this truth.

All this, of course, says nothing about their character issues: the killing and maiming of friends and acquaintances, heroin, cocaine, prescription drug use and overuse, liberties with baby-sitters and party-goers, lobotomies and "non-profit foundations."

So where's the royalty? Well, that's the "disconnect" to which JFK Jr. spoke. When the media talks wistfully about American royalty, they are simply finding words to express their deepest unrealized, most flagrant wish: that for a ruling elite. Bill Clinton was as much a liar and a fraud to the left as he was the right. He failed to live up to the dictates of a demanding far-left leaning media and their constituents -- feminists, homosexuals, environmentalists, minorities, product-safety activists -- all of whom were to contribute to his brain-trust. But Clinton failed to deliver on the politics of every single special interest group whose vote he so promiscuously courted (in both elections), saving only the plaintiff's bar. He failed to create the great American Politburo that was to free control of health care, education, welfare, housing, social security -- you name it -- from the grip of the foolish American people, the constitution and the bourgeois marketplace.

"Who Killed the Kennedys?"

Bill Clinton's dramatic failure to deliver on the promise of a New Frontier meant JFK Jr. had to do it -- there is no one else the American people would have trusted to carry that sword. Clinton urinated in the pool. The truth is, the media, and a not too small number of people, were waiting for JFK Jr. -- with the well-established grace not to stick his foot or any other appendage in the wrong place -- to 'do the deal.'

Who killed the Kennedys? It wasn't you or me, after all; it was Lee Harvey Oswald, Sirhan Sirhan, and a lot of Kennedys themselves, exercising really poor judgment at different times in their own lives. The question really should have been, "Who made the Kennedys?" And it is here Mick Jagger would have been on to something. It really was you and me, though I've never subscribed to the notion that the media is simply giving us what we want-rather the media is giving us what they want.

The media wanted JFK Jr. as much as they wanted his father, and in both cases they made the difference-pulling both into the spotlight (they, with the help of Joe's ill-gotten gain). JFK Jr. was different, though. Whether a late-bloomer, underachiever, or keen observer, he never sought public office and never got in trouble, and for this, as a Kennedy, his social grace was nothing short of astounding.

It was more than a Piper Saratoga that spun so tragically fast into the Atlantic that Friday evening, it was also the weighty payload of some outmoded, outdated, and dangerously old hopes -- hopes that even JFK Jr. wouldn't of had the luck to carry any further.

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