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1967_08_26--028_SP At Home with Heir Apparent

`I am not going to be Vice President under any circumstances.' Proud father poses with his children: Courtney, 10, Christopher, 4, Bobby Jr., 13, Kerry, 7, Kathleen, 16, Darid, 12, Matthew, 2, and Michael, 9. Two are missing—the baby, haring his lunch, and Joe, 14, in Maine for the summer. didn't they go on upstairs and play? Then the senator added a characteristic touch. During the next couple of hours I must have heard him say it a dozen times. "OK?" he asked them. "Yes, Daddy!" they called from the stairs. Now we were alone in the library. an airy, sunny, colorful room. with upholstered furniture. a number of framed family snapshots, and shelves of books running from floor to ceiling on one side— mostly contemporary nonfiction works. The senator had some idea about the kind of questions I had in mind because I had spoken to him brieflyon the subject a couple of weeks before. So I don't think he was surprised when I now asked him a question which by actual word count turned out to be a blockbuster 452 words long, concerning several of the more interesting theories generally held about him, or attributed to him. He listened to every word intently, and when I finished he said, "Let's move into the dining room where we can spread out." When we were settled at the dining-room table. the senator without further prompting replied to my marathon question with a 13-word answer. "I don't think. unfortunately, I'm very good at answering these kinds of questions," he said pleasantly. I began again, trying for a little at a time. I chiefly wanted answers to some of the political questions which always must be asked of Bobby Kennedy. For example. most Americans—whether they like him or not—are convinced that Senator Kennedy has a deep wish to carry on that impalpable. soaring something which all Kennedy supporters now believe was embodied in the Administration of Christopher, who has just snatched Daddy's shirt, gets set for a roughhouse—typical Kennedy fun—on the lawn. President John F. Kennedy. They may think of this something as a specific program or promise, or as an implied new pathway for this nation; at any rate, it is felt as something transcending anything in past American political life. A couple of weeks before, William vanden Heuvel, one of the senator's advisers, had told me, "Anyone who has gone to the President's grave at Arlington with Robert Kennedy—although never a word is spoken—gets the sense that he feels that something great was broken here, and that as his brother's brother he has an obligation to continue it." Does Bobby Kennedy feel he must carry on this something? I asked. He was still dressed in those swimming-pool togs. and his hair was damp and tangled. But he was leaning forward now, and he was listening carefully with his intent and extremely intelligent eyes. Actually that is the feeling you get—that those blue eyes are also ears. And he was nodding his head slowly—yes, yes, yes. He didn't say it in words, but he seemed to be saying so with his heart: He does want to carry on his brother's work. But how? A theory that has been widely discussed among political insiders in recent months holds that President Johnson might next year decide to make a deal with Robert Kennedy. The idea behind this is that there are two wings of the disorganized Democratic Party today. the Johnson wing and the Kennedy wing. This split exists against a background of drastic changes occurring in the whole broad arena of American politics—among others. the passing of the old-time political bosses. the rise of hordes of young people to voting age. the new political power of the Negroes and the serious divisions in the country over the Vietnam war. 30


1967_08_26--028_SP At Home with Heir Apparent
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