2020 – Sixty Years After Jack, An Historic Year for the Kennedys – In Massachusetts, and New Jersey!
No, I will never forget the election of 1960. And 2020 will be the 60th anniversary of that unforgettable event!
What a year that was in the home of Melvin and Harriet Steinberg in New Kensington, Pennsylvania, in suburban Pittsburgh. It was the first year in their new home in the Rossmont section of the town. And their eldest child, yours truly, who turned eleven on November 22 of that year was obsessed with two continuing events.
The first was that magnificent championship season for the Buccos, the Pittsburgh Pirates who won their first pennant since 1927 and their first World Series since 1925 over the New York Yankees on that thrilling home run by Bill Mazeroski!
You have to understand – for my Dad and me and my late brother, Michael, baseball wasn’t just a pastime. It was a religion – a close second to Judaism itself!
Baseball blood ran in the veins of all the men in our family. After all, my grandfather, Archie Steinberg, immigrant from Rozan, Poland and the leading kosher butcher of his era on Murray Avenue, the main thorofare of Squirrel Hill, attended Game One of that 1925 World Series at Pittsburgh’s Forbes Field. When he returned to his home on Darlington Road in Squirrel Hill after the game, he found out that my grandmother, Rose, had given birth to a new son – my father!
My second 1960 obsession was the presidential race between Jack Kennedy and Dick Nixon. This was my first presidential election that I followed in depth. And dinner conversations in the Steinberg home that year were most interesting!
Neither of my parents were enthusiastic about JFK, although they would become warm supporters after his inauguration. Mom loved Adlai Stevenson and thought, as Lyndon Johnson once said about Jack, that JFK had more profile than courage. Dad was suspicious of Jack, because of the antisemitism of his father, Joe. Both my parents unequivocally supported Jack, because of their dislike of Nixon – in fact, Mom loathed him. They both thought he was an anti-Semite, and the Watergate tapes a decade later would prove them right.
For me, that election of 1960 was so memorable – watching both Conventions on television and Mom and Dad letting me stay awake until midnight watching the returns on Election Night. The race still hadn’t been decided until the next morning when Jack was declared the winner in Michigan, Illinois, and Minnesota. Of course, nobody will ever know who really won that election. As the author of the book, The Making of the President 1960, Theodore H. White described it, Election 1960 was the Night of the Gnomes. Both Democrat and Republican crooks were trying to steal votes throughout the nation, and the Democratic crooks were more successful!
And I will never forget the 48-hour period in which my love of the Pittsburgh Pirates merged with my intense interest in the election!
On Sunday, September 25, 1960, the Buccos clinched the National League pennant, ironically in a losing effort in Milwaukee, due to a St. Louis Cardinals defeat. I stayed up with Dad and Mom, watching on television the airplane carrying Manager Danny Murtaugh and the Pirates land at the Pittsburgh Airport, getting off the plane to the Bucco theme song that year, played by the Benny Benack band, “The Bucs are Going All the Way!”
And Monday night, September 26, 1960 was that historic first Nixon-Kennedy debate! Mom and Dad TOLD me to stay up and watch it with them.
We sat in the den of our home at 208 Elmtree Road, watching a night of pure disaster for Dick Nixon. Recently recovered from an illness, he banged his knee getting out of the car for the debate in Chicago. He had a horrible “Lazy Shave” television makeup job, and wore a gray suit which made him fade into the background. While Jack looked like a Bronzed Warrior, Dick looked gaunt and haggard, like a rejected extra from a Boris Karloff movie.
At the end of the debate, Mom said, “I think Kennedy came out ahead.” Her judgment was confirmed when my beloved maternal grandmother, my Bubbie Bessie Perr Miller came over for dinner the next night and said, “Oy vey – Nixon looked terrible on television last night!”
Now fast forward, as we go into 2020. Mom and Dad are gone. I am 70 years old and blessed by the Almighty with a four year old granddaughter, Quinn, a beautiful Jewish girl with a Kennedyesque Irish first name!
And in Massachusetts, 2020 will definitely be the year of the Kennedys – and in New Jersey, too!
Congressman Joe Kennedy III, Bobby’s grandson, is seeking to ascend from the US House of Representatives into the Massachusetts US Senate seat previously held by his uncles Jack and Ted and now held by Ed Markey. Ed is now seeking reelection to his second full six-year term, but Joe Kennedy III is running for the seat himself in the primary. Joe is a certain primary and general election winner – after all, this is Massachusetts, and in Massachusetts, the Kennedys get what they want!
And at some point within the next two decades, if Joe Kennedy III stays safe from the murderous violence that befell Uncle Jack and Grandpa Bobby, he will be inaugurated President of the United States. The Restoration would have taken place in 1968 had Bobby Kennedy not been assassinated in the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles after winning the California Democratic presidential primary. The hope of Restoration will be fulfilled through Grandson Joe III.
Yet another fascinating act in the Kennedy Restoration Play is about to be opened in New Jersey’s Second Congressional District. In the wake of the party switch of incumbent Congressman Jeff Van Drew from Democrat to Republican, Amy Kennedy, wife of former Congressman Patrick Kennedy, son of the late Senator Ted Kennedy, will be announcing her candidacy for the Democratic nomination for that Congressional seat.
Amy Kennedy will win that Democratic nomination by an immense landslide and go on to a comfortable triumph in the general election. She will be the star of New Jersey Campaign 2020, and her candidacy will place New Jersey in the national spotlight.
Amy Kennedy is right out of central casting for that candidacy role.
Amy has that visual appeal to the heart that so typifies the Kennedys. A mother of five, she is wholesomely beautiful, in a nonseductive, dignified way that is heartwarming to men and nonthreatening to other women. With her lifelong residential and political roots in that Second Congressional District, she is New Jersey’s answer to Debbie Reynolds, the wonderful girl next door whom all the mothers wanted to see their high school football playing sons take to the senior prom.
Amy projects a warmth and humility that will make her irresistible to voters. She does not have an iota of meanness or superciliousness within her soul.
She is a woman of profound achievement in the education and nonprofit advocacy worlds, in the latter the rights and welfare of those with mental health conditions. In both arenas, Amy has exhibited exquisite communication skills that will benefit her abundantly on the campaign trail.
Advocates of Ed Markey and Amy’s Congressional election opponents will assert that these two Kennedys are “ruthless and opportunistic.” The Kennedy critics said the same thing about Bobby Kennedy after he entered the 1968 Democratic presidential nomination sweepstakes after Gene McCarthy’s strong showing in the New Hampshire Democratic primary. Those attacks would not have stopped Bobby from winning the presidency, and they will not put even a dent into the march to victory of Joe III and Amy.
When Ted Kennedy announced his departure from the Democratic presidential nomination campaign from the rostrum of the Democratic National Convention at Madison Square Garden in New York in 1980, he closed with the words, “The dream shall never die.” Indeed, on the 60th anniversary of Jack Kennedy’s 1960 presidential triumph, the Kennedy dream burns as brightly as ever in the personages of future president Joe Kennedy III and New Jersey’s latest Democratic political superstar, Amy Kennedy.
Alan J. Steinberg served as Regional Administrator of Region 2 EPA during the administration of former President George W. Bush and as Executive Director of the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission.
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