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So what does Joe Kennedy III believe in anyway?

2012 March 31
by Greg Reibman

As best I can tell, Joe Kennedy III is a really, nice charismatic guy who is working hard traveling across the 4th Congressional District meeting people he wants to represent in Congress.   To that end, Kennedy’s campaign site has an nifty interactive map showing where he’s been and he’s posted scores of photos of his travels.  He’s also Tweeting his every meal, including it seems every slice of pizza and cup of coffee (make that lots of coffee) and sharing all the same sort of fluff on his Facebook page.

But it seems to me there’s something important missing from JKIII’s campaign site:  There’s no section about where he stands on any issue. No press releases about important matters either. Same deal with his Tweets or Facebook posts.

Let’s hope that changes soon. This election year is too important for it not to be focused on substantive matters.






34 Responses Post a comment
  1. jane permalink
    April 1, 2012 08:34 AM

    By all accounts, JPK has been very impressive at the house parties and organizing events in the past few weeks. You’ve always been a website admirer – others would never think of reading a website for information on a candidate’s position on issues.

    However, I checked it this morning and found this from the JPK III website: “…For a fair tax code that says the middle class shouldn’t have to fund tax breaks for the super rich…” The power bestowed on the uberwealthy has undermined the democratic process, especially in the House of Representatives, so any candidate who proposes changes to this problem has my vote.

  2. April 1, 2012 08:53 AM

    Any visual image contains a lot of information.

    Looking at the image above I cannot believe that a man eats a pizza because he is hungry. Also, he is the only one (of the people seen in the picture) distinguishing self with a neck tie and a white shirt. There is the other reason for his being there.

    It seems that Joe Kennedy III tries the method of political advertising self as a man of the people and does it unconvincingly, because the very many people know who he is.

    The worst feature of the picture is that it shows that Joe Kennedy III is trying to deceive.

  3. April 1, 2012 12:39 PM

    @jane: I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who looks to the internet for information about where a candidate stands in 2012. (Yes, I understand JKIII is talking about issues on the trail.)

    BTW, both of the leading GOP candidates Elizabeth Childs and Sean Bielat have some sort of issue section on their campaign sites. Joe Kennedy III should too.

  4. Mike Striar permalink
    April 1, 2012 01:33 PM

    I’m glad Joe is running and I totally support him in this race, but I’ve criticized him before on this blog for lacking passion. And Greg is completely right, Joe’s website lacks substance. Unfortunately, those two deficiencies are graphically displayed in the introductory video piece on his web site.

    Right now, Joe’s campaign is looking a lot like Martha Coakley’s failed senate bid, where she was beaten by an opponent who fought harder and wanted it more. Joe is running a “play it safe” campaign against a more experienced candidate who can raise a boat load of money, and makes no secret about how badly he wants that congressional seat. Without a shakeup in top-level campaign personnel and an injection of passion in his personal style, a lot of us Democrats are our going to be very disappointed come November. I hope Joe wakes up before it’s too late.

  5. April 1, 2012 04:11 PM

    @Mike: I don’t agree that the campaign lacks passion or needs a shake-up.

    I just want the guy to have strong, well considered, opinions and post them where they can be seen by those who haven’t had a slice of pizza or cup of coffee with the fellow. Otherwise this campaign is in danger of being defined by the GOP as about “a Kennedy” as opposed to being about issues and solutions.

    Some may think — and his handlers may be thinking — that the most important thing is that he win and if being vague is the path to winning, then go for it.

    But I want the guy to arrive in Congress ready to champion the issues he’s defining now on the campaign trail.

  6. BOB BURKE permalink
    April 1, 2012 04:47 PM

    I think Joe Kennedy III will do just fine as this campaign gets into higher gear. He’s starting slow for a long haul campaign, listening to voters and learning the ropes of campaigning in a large Congressional district; in effect, catching the rhythm of this polyglot district. He’s a quick learner and, I think, a very good listener. What’s the problem with wearing a coat and tie?? This shows respect for the people in this district. I like him and everything I’ve learned about his life and values, and what he’s done in the past just reinforces the good vibes I have about a candidate who is almost half a century younger than me.

  7. Mark Bridger permalink
    April 1, 2012 05:39 PM

    Hey Bob: I’ve known you for at least 30 years and I didn’t know you had a blog!

    I was pretty much decided on supporting Joe Kennedy III, but the fact that you think he’s OK makes it definite.

  8. Mike Striar permalink
    April 1, 2012 06:29 PM

    This particular race is going to be won by the candidate who appears to want it more. Joe has tremendous potential, but I’ve yet to see a hint of passion from him. I think that’s a big problem. His campaign seems to lack purpose. That won’t effect someone like me who is going to vote for him anyway, but it will have an impact on those swing voters who elected Senator Brown. I’m surprised and disappointed that the people running Joe’s campaign seem to have learned nothing from Brown vs. Coakley.

  9. BOB BURKE permalink
    April 1, 2012 09:49 PM

    @Mike. Point taken.

  10. jane permalink
    April 1, 2012 09:51 PM

    I haven’t seen or heard anything about either Republican candidate. Sean Bielet is hardly a passionate campaigner and I can’t even remember the name of the other candidate. At this point, all three are probably raising funds and making quiet connections. Seems like a smart strategy to me.

    The election is 8 months away and we have a presidential and senatorial campaign to think about as well. And remember, our Representative will be one of 435 and have no seniority for years to come so yap all you want about issues and passion. I want to know that my Congressman and Senator will vote in favor of raising taxes on those in the 1% income bracket, will maintain whatever part of the Affordable Care Act possible, and against sending troops into the areas of the world that are presently unstable.

    Martha Coakley didn’t connect with voters. She very well may have had a great website but like it or not, having a great website does not win an election. Don’t forget, a not so bright guy in a barn coat and pick up truck – but one who was willing to get out and talk to voters – won the last senatorial campaign.

  11. April 1, 2012 11:12 PM

    You may not have seen Sean Beilat, but he’s been very active and I disagree about the passion. Elizabeth Childs received several key GOP endorsements.

    As a reminder, a key reason why Barney Frank decided not to seek reelection was because the district has been redrawn to be more favorable to Republicans.

    Mike is just wrong to compare JK3 to Coakley. No comparison.

  12. Mike Striar permalink
    April 2, 2012 01:21 AM

    I’m not comparing their personalities or even necessarily their respective campaigns. I only have to tweak the headline on this thread to make my point though…

    So what did Martha Coakley believe in anyway?

    Unfortunately that line works for both of those candidates, and it’s making me a little nervous.

  13. Hoss permalink
    April 2, 2012 06:50 AM

    The defining issue is obvious: National health care coverage. Yet again.

  14. Barry Cohen permalink
    April 2, 2012 09:41 AM

    I love when people like ‘jane’ use the term “1%” to define the sector of society to be discriminated against. On what basis? That they are richer than most people? Does that make them bad people? Are the other 99% poor people who diligently pay their fair share of taxes and don’t do anything illegal.

    People who cite this number are the kind of sheep who Obama used to win his first election with the notion of “change”. Most people who voted for him had no idea what kind of change he meant. But the word was drilled into their heads so much, that, like Pavlov’s dog, they reacted to the stimulus.

    “1%” is the same Pavlovian stimulus. It’s the Obama campaign’s plan to stigmatize and demonize an important segment of the population. But, since it probably includes Mitt Romney, it’s a shrewd political move, a way to manipulate the masses of voters. Anyone who thinks the “Occupy” movement arose from the grassroots, is naive. It’s part and parcel of Obama’s re-election campaign, probably devised by David Axelrod.

  15. Gail Spector permalink
    April 2, 2012 10:06 AM

    As a reminder, a key reason why Barney Frank decided not to seek reelection was because the district has been redrawn to be more favorable to Republicans.

    Did Congressman Frank ever say that? He said he would have to work very hard to fundraise and to win over the 325,000 new constituents, but I don’t remember him ever saying the district is more favorable to Republicans now.

  16. April 2, 2012 10:29 AM

    @Gail: From the Herald...

    Frank’s 2010 campaign manager, Kevin Sowyrda, said a key factor in the congressman’s decision was that the newly drawn up congressional district strips away New Bedford from Frank. The South Coast, heavily Democratic, pro-union fishing city has long been a prime power base for Frank, but his new district now includes several more moderate suburban towns, such as Walpole, rather than New Bedford.

    “It’s a tougher district,” said Sowyrda, who was recently hired as a consultant by Frank to analyze the new district. “Barney was not thrilled at all with the map when he saw it. New Bedford, where his vote was huge, was sliced. His exact words to me were, ‘They didn’t do me any favors.’ 

  17. BOB BURKE permalink
    April 2, 2012 10:43 AM

    @Greg and Gail.

    Two years ago, Barney made it pretty clear that 2012 would probably be his last campaign and that his highest program priorities included the completion of several revitalization projects in Fall River and New Bedford. I heard him say this more than once on the campaign trail. He was blunt about this commitment even when campaigning in Newton. This was something he was passionate about. interview on Jeff Santo’s program last year.

    These two municipalities are no longer in the 4th District and it’s no secret that he didn’t expect this to occur. He would have had to focus on completing his commitments there while, at the same time, introducing himself to his new constituents. He could do either, but he felt he couldn’t do both.

    Barney never backed away from a fight, so that’s not even a factor. But he also made clear that being in Congress isn’t nearly as enjoyable as it used to, and that he was getting a bit tired of it all. I personally don’t know how he stood the Tea Party types and their vocal predecessors who have been twisting things since Gingrich and his crew took over in 1995. And the very ones who used to make Barney’s sexual status a not too subtle moral issue, were quite often the very ones who got caught in their own intemperate sexual or financial scandals.

  18. Lucia permalink
    April 2, 2012 01:08 PM

    Have to say I agree with Mike on JFKIII. Not sure why he’s running other than that it’s the family business. Would so much prefer to be voting forAlan Khazei or Somerville’s mayor Joseph A. Curtatone. Curtatone’s performances on WFNX’s ‘my song is better than your song’ is reason enough to vote for him. He’s got wit and a political record behind him.

  19. Dan Fahey permalink
    April 2, 2012 02:53 PM

    I also think Barney discovered how much better it was being in the majority. Had to have had some impact on him.

  20. jane permalink
    April 2, 2012 05:09 PM

    Who said anything about people who are in the top 1% of income bracket being “bad people”? That came from your mouth, Barry, not mine. I merely said they don’t pay taxes at the same rate as people making less, and that I will vote for anyone who promises to vote to raise the tax rate on people in that tax bracket. That doesn’t make these people bad – it just means that they’re given an unearned privilege others don’t have. I’m not demonizing anyone – some of my best friends are in the 1% and they should be paying taxes at the same rate as everyone else.

  21. Sean permalink
    April 2, 2012 05:20 PM


    Whatever flaws in Martha Coakley’s campaign, it wasn’t a failure to take a stand on issues. She was very clear on stimulus, financial market regulation, and health care, the salient issues of the day.

  22. Barry Cohen permalink
    April 2, 2012 06:14 PM


    As I said, you’ve fallen for the propaganda. You have no idea at what rate most of the people in the “1%” pay taxes. Nor do you know that below the 1% they are paying their fair share. Nor do you know that all people making under $100K a year are paying their fair share. It’s just rhetoric meant to make you resent a group of people, and of course we in the 99% should vote for Obama and other Democrats who will correct this inequity. I’d say using a dumb statistic like this is a great trick, as it puts 99% of us on their side.

    It’s a farce and it’s being quoted just in the same way that “change we can believe in” was quoted. How about that change, huh? Who do you think pays $35,000 a plate to eat with Barack Obama, your landscaper?

  23. jane permalink
    April 2, 2012 06:47 PM

    Barry – Once again, I don’t resent anyone. I just want very wealthy people to pay their fair share, and that includes those who pay $35,000 to dine with the President. I don’t care about what political party they belong to, though that seems to be quite important to you.

    You say tomato, I say tomahto. You say Obama propaganda, I say Koch brothers evil ways so… let’s call the whole thing off!

  24. Mike Striar permalink
    April 2, 2012 06:50 PM

    Sean– I would argue that there is a distinction to be made between taking a position [which is something virtually every candidate for any office has to do], vs. actually standing for something you truly believe in. It’s possible that passion is the ingredient which distinguishes one from the other, and the lack of passion is what’s concerning me about JK3.

    Coakley staked out positions on issues, but she stood for nothing discernible. We all know how that worked out. There’s a lesson to be learned from that experience. Unfortunately [so far] it appears to have been missed by the folks running the JK3 campaign. I’m pretty confident they’ll get it turned around, and I’m hoping some of the comments from progressive Democrats on this thread will make them more aware that their candidate needs to work harder to define himself.

  25. Kim permalink
    April 2, 2012 06:54 PM

    Martha Coakley believed in going on vacation 20 days before the election thereby spitting in the face of everyone who supported her. She didn’t deserve to win.

  26. Jerry Reilly permalink
    April 2, 2012 07:24 PM

    @Barry – Why do you call this propaganda when its demonstrably true. As far as I know no one has credibly denied that those at the very top of the income scale pay a much smaller percentage of their income than you or I. It’s not because anyone’s cheating. Its because the tax code is rigged that way.

    Romney released his records to show he was paying taxes at a 15% rate (or was it 13%). President Obama has pointed out that he pays at a lower rate than the typical tax payer. Warren Buffet has been quite outspoken that he pays a much lower rate than his secretary. Do you not believe any of these people?

    So long as capital gains or taxed at a substantially lower rate than wages this is guaranteed to be true.

    Now you may think that’s a reasonable way to structure the tax code but telling someone that disagrees that they’ve “fallen for the propaganda” is just avoiding the whole issue.

  27. Barry Cohen permalink
    April 2, 2012 07:43 PM


    If you want to change the tax rate on capital gains, then fine. That’s a legitimate stand. That doesn’t demonize anyone. But before we do that, we need to understand why that rate is lower than earned income. Personally, I don’t know. I’d guess it may be related to the fact that the capital gains were disbursed after a corporation already paid tax on the profit. If they didn’t, and it were just disbursed to taxpayers, then there’s no reason to tax it differently. Or perhaps it’s meant to encourage capital investment, since, unlike a salary, it carries the risk that money can be lost, and using losses to offset income has limitations.

    Quite honestly, on this issue, I agree with you. I just think the notion of the 1%, taken together with the sudden appearance of the Occupy movement is just an election-year scam. That’s my observation, not whether or not anyone at any level should pay a fair share. I mean, do you know how many contractors moonlight for cash and never declare that income? And they aren’t in the top 1%. Or how many people use the barter system in the US so that no cash exchanges hands, and these people aren’t in the top 1%. The list goes on and on. There are a lot of flaws in the tax system. Focusing on that 1% is David Axelrod’s way of making voters resent Republicans like Mitt Romney.

  28. jane permalink
    April 2, 2012 08:19 PM

    And then we have Karl Rove…

    Goes both ways.

  29. Barry Cohen permalink
    April 2, 2012 08:40 PM


    Both sides, or should I say all sides, use a certain measure of deception and manipulation. But David Axelrod is an unabashed user of pure unsupportable baloney. He knows from understanding media how easy it is to manipulate people by reducing campaigning to one or a few simple useless messages. Barack Obama never said anything intelligent in his whole first campaign. Today, faced with the knowledge that, first, change won’t cut it any more since Bush is long gone and the change would be from him, and, second, that he has no record upon which to run, he’s using a broad-based simplistic campaign of demonizing the other side. He has advocated taxing the upper 1%, as if that will solve everyone’s problems, and then all of a sudden there’s a nation-wide movement, called Occupy, based upon demonizing the 1%. It’s so blatant that it’s pathetic. Unfortunately, in this era of tweets, e-mails, and IM’s, most Americans want simple short messages and don’t want to be bothered with complex thinking. Axelrod understands this.

  30. Max Goldsmith permalink
    April 2, 2012 08:53 PM

    Getting back to the original point of this thread, I recall back in 2006 my early frustration with Deval Patrick and his then-nascent gubernatorial campaign. When was he going to get past the biography and get on to the real issues?

    JK III is much the same. He’s trying to set the stage for himself as a person, not just another Kennedy. Give him a few minutes to set himself up and the “issues” will follow.

  31. jane permalink
    April 3, 2012 10:02 PM

    And Karl Rove isn’t “unabashed” and a manipulator or the media? Wow.

  32. Barry Cohen permalink
    April 4, 2012 09:42 AM

    Karl Rove isn’t running any campaigns right now. And, as I pointed out, there’s a difference. Axelrod uses Madison Avenue advertising tricks to manipulate voters.

    ‘jane’, you’re a knee-jerk Democrat. As I’ve said many times on these blogs, I am neither a Democrat nor a Republican, so I look at both sides. Were it not for what the Democratic party has evolved to over the past ten or twenty years, I’d probably still be voting Democratic, as I used to. But it’s been taken over by extremists and people with a twisted outlook on the role of government.

    I’d rather go back to JFK who said “ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” Under Obama it’s “ask not what you can do for your country, see how much you can get from your country for yourself.”

    It’s unhealthy for a country to be taken over by parasites. It’s not working in Europe, but Obama, Pelosi, etc., are too stupid to see the example that’s been set.

  33. Sean permalink
    April 4, 2012 10:52 AM

    Karl Rove isn’t running any campaigns, instead he’ll be spending millions of billionaires’ money attacking Democrats through the Crossroads super PAC and affiliated groups.

  34. Jerry Reilly permalink
    April 4, 2012 11:23 AM

    @Barry -as for “Madison Avenue advertising tricks to manipulate voters” you can’t get much better than calling your billionaire funded PAC – “Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies”

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