Patrick Kennedy comes clean

Patrick Kennedy wears his heart on his sleeve, his manner far more confessional than calculating. That said, his timing couldn’t be better.

The youngest child of Ted Kennedy has written a book that pulls back the curtain on the painful damage done by addiction in his family at a time when the scourge of drug and alcohol dependency is getting attention in a way it never has before. As underscored by the response to the exploding heroin crisis by state leaders like Gov. Charlie Baker and law enforcement officials such as Gloucester police chief Leonard Campanello, addiction is becoming increasingly accepted as a health problem to be treated, not a moral shortcoming for which those caught in its grip should be condemned or, in some cases, jailed.

Enter Patrick Kennedy, who has been very candid for years about his own battles with addiction as well as mental illness. But his new book, A Common Struggle, is not just a chronicle of his own travails. It pulls back the curtain on the path of destruction addiction has carved in his famous family, most notably its effect on his late father and his mother. Kennedy appeared last night on 60 Minutes and spoke with bracing candor about what his book calls “the Kennedy code of silence” around these issues. “You get infected by the pathology of silence and that is sickening to your soul,” Kennedy tells Lesley Stahl.

Kennedy says his father never had the time or space to grieve his two brothers’ assassinations. He says the 1968 murder of Robert Kennedy was particularly devastating. Stahl quotes from the book: “My father went on in silent desperation for much of his life, self-medicating and unwittingly passing his unprocessed trauma on to my sister, brother, and me.”

Kennedy says the one time he and his family tried to stage an “intervention” and confront his father about his drinking, in the early 1990s, Ted Kennedy walked out of the room, showcasing the denial that caused addiction problems in the family to be constantly swept under the rug and not faced honestly.

Patrick Kennedy no doubt believes it is simply a continuation of that practice that has members of his family now angry at him over the book. His older brother, Ted Kennedy, Jr., issued a statement yesterday criticizing the book. “I am heartbroken that Patrick has chosen to write what is an inaccurate and unfair portrayal of our family,” it said. “My brother’s recollections of family events and particularly our parents are quite different from my own.”

In a phone interview yesterday with the Globe, Patrick Kennedy said, “I’m writing very truthfully.”

In speaking so intimately about the issues he covers in his book, the former Rhode Island congressman has broken with family practice in a way no Kennedy ever has, Stahl tells him. He acknowledges as much, and says it has left him “outside the family line.”

Of course, no one outside a family knows everything that goes on inside it. But the travails of the Kennedy family in general, and of Ted Kennedy in particular, have been aired far more publicly than the challenges faced by most families.

Based on all we know — the thousands of words written from afar by those who have tried to take the measure of the horrific events and trauma that shaped Ted Kennedy and his family — Patrick Kennedy’s account certainly seems to carry more than just a ring of truth.




The Globe reports on the state’s dwindling rainy day fund. CommonWealth reported on the incredible shrinking fund last month and in April.

Telegram & Gazette columnist Dianne Williamson describes the “perfect storm of ineptness” at the Department of Children and Families that rained down on an Auburn toddler and her unqualified foster parent.

State Auditor Suzanne Bump says one of the problems with the embattled Department of Children and Families is the lack of communication with other executive branch agencies. (Keller@Large)

The number of roll call votes in the Legislature is down sharply, but there is no consensus on the reason for it. (Boston Globe)

Gov. Charlie Baker talks Western Massachusetts economic development and transportation with the Springfield Republican/MassLive.


A former Brockton mayoral candidate has accused state Rep. Michelle DuBois of trying to bribe him with a job for his wife in City Hall if he dropped out of the race, an allegation she denies. (The Enterprise)

Dracut is going through an unusual long-term budgeting exercise that will involve the whole town. (The Sun)


An Item editorial takes note of how divisive gambling has become in the state, even though residents overwhelmingly voted in favor of it.

Springfield City Council wants Jersey barriers gone from around the MGM casino construction site. (MassLive)


A Lowell Sun editorial calls for an overhaul of the state’s medical marijuana law to require doctors to prescribe the drug only for approved illnesses.


Former Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke says more corporate executives should have gone to jail for their misdeeds during the Great Recession. (USA Today)

The New York Times has a primer on the new Supreme Court term which starts today and its implications for the presidential race. The Herald‘s Kimberly Atkins also takes stock of the power the next president could have to shape the court, with four of the current justices older than 77.

Governing fills us in on John King, who is replacing Arne Duncan as President Obama’s education secretary.

With House Speaker John Boehner‘s imminent departure, there’s a clamor among right wing member of Congress to move up and take over leadership positions as a domino effect of the change. (U.S. News & World Report)


More than 20,000 people felt the Bern in Boston on Saturday night, rallying for Democratic presidential contender Bernie Sanders at what was the third largest crowd he has drawn to his left-wing insurgent candidacy. (Boston magazine)

Former senator Scott Brown deemed Deval Patrick “a joke” when asked about the idea of the former governor as the VP candidate on a Democratic ticket. (Boston Herald)

Donald Trump‘s plan to just simply kick out 11 million people in the country illegally is a bit ungrounded to begin with, but if he could actually pull it off it would also tank the US economy, writes conservative columnist Linda Chavez. (Boston Herald)

Beverly Mayor Michael Cahill and challenger David Manzi are running two very different campaigns. (Salem News)


Google and Microsoft have ended their patent feud and could now team up to take on Apple, writes the Herald‘s Jessica Van Sack.

Verizon is replacing copper telephone wire with fiber in Framingham. (MetroWest Daily News)

Twitter cofounder Jack Murphy is named the company’s permanent CEO. (Time)

A new Greater Boston Convention and Visitors Bureau video aims to attract winter business events. Really. (Boston Business Journal)

American Apparel, the edgy clothier that made its name with made-in-America fashion and which has two Boston stores, filed for bankruptcy Monday morning because of high debt, falling sales, and a legal fight with the chain’s deposed founder. (New York Times)


Boston’s chief of education, Rahn Dorsey, is hitting his stride. (Boston Globe)

A middle-school special education teacher at Salem Academy Charter School praises the new PARCC test, calling it a major improvement over MCAS. (Salem News)

A search for college is no less stressful even for the president’s daughter. (New York Times)


Steward Health Care is upgrading its hospitals’ emergency departments as part of a strategy to draw more patients. (Boston Globe)

Former TV sportscaster Bob Lobel has become a medical marijuana convert, saying he much prefers it to prescription opiates to treat the chronic pain he suffers from as a result of multiple injuries and surgeries over the years. (Boston Herald)


Three commuter rail trips per day from Kingston take close to two hours to get to Boston because the trains first detour south to Plymouth before heading back north. (Boston Globe)

The Cape Flyer train service from Boston to Hyannis has another successful summer. (Cape Cod Times)


A Worcester grandmother settles a police brutality case with the city’s police department for $125,000. (Telegram & Gazette)

Boston police officers are taking to bicycles to quell violence and connect better with residents. (Boston Globe)


Boston Herald editorial union members approved a new contract from the company late last week while the commercial side rejected the paper’s offer. (Media Nation)