Wednesday, March 31, 2021

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

The JFK Library Foundation’s decision to award Sen. Mitt Romney its annual Profile in Courage award for his support of the Trump impeachment has drawn much commentary (“Mitt Romney gets Profile in Courage Award for impeachment vote,” Web, March 26). Overlooked is a shameful chapter in the Kennedy family’s dealings with Mr. Romney.

Mr. Romney‘s first run for office was against Sen. Ted Kennedy in 1994, and it was a heated race. In contrast to the incumbent, Mr. Romney‘s character was unblemished. So the Kennedy campaign attacked Mr. Romney‘s Mormon faith. Sen. Kennedy unleashed his nephew, then-Rep. Joe Kennedy II, to predictably call Mormonism racist, among other things.


This religious scaremongering came from the family that faced whispers, rumors and conspiracies for their non-majority religion at the time of John Kennedy’s run for president in 1960. Then-Sen. John Kennedy explained patiently the boundaries of faith and public duty, and reassured voters that he would not take orders from Rome. No matter to his brother’s desperate campaign a generation later. Facing a backlash, the Ted Kennedy team backed away slightly from this outrageous slander, but the damage had been done. Mr. Romney lost handily, and the Kennedys had successfully imposed a religious test for public office.

Mr. Romney recovered to become governor of Massachusetts eight years later and admirably admits failing from “time to time” in acknowledging this award. But rather than an award, the Kennedy family owes him an apology.

GREGORY C. MCCARTHY

Burke, Va.


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