That’s not a typo. They nearly all lead lives of public service. Some very differently. 

Though the Kennedy clan has had a significant and enduring impact onAmerica’s culture and politics for over four decades, they should beconsidered individually for the body of work they leave behind, becausethey are considerably different.

NROasks President Obama to note the differences between Jack and Ted,though his political instincts may focus his loyalty on Ted. It was,after all, Ted Kennedy’s powerful endorsement of Obama during theprimaries that really helped him pull away from Hillary Clinton.

As a result the president who owes so much to the late senator, and whose politics so closely resemble the late senator’s own, will do his best to keep Teddy’s torch from going out. If you seek Kennedy’s monument, you will no doubt find it in the health-care reform act of 2010.

But President Obama may in time find it to his — and to his country’s — benefit to fix his gaze not on Ted, but on Jack. For in addition to his more superficial graces, President Kennedy possessed a degree of wisdom, which might be defined as grace of judgment. John Kennedy’s sentiments were liberal, but he knew that a wise president must have the country in his bones, must feel, as by instinct, the temper of the people, and must know what they will bear and what they will not. He was annoyed by those who, like Arthur Schlesinger Jr., urged him to be another FDR. Schlesinger, he said, wanted him to act as if it were 1932. But three decades had passed since 1932; the mood of the people, President Kennedy knew, had changed.

President Obama, if he reverences the memory of Ted Kennedy, would do well to eschew his politics. In joining the battle for health-care reform, Obama has entered on what promises to be the climacteric of his presidency. At so critical a juncture he needs to emulate, not the intoxicated extravagances of the late senator, but the sober moderation of his older brother, who knew that the world has indeed changed since 1932.

Another one to emulate is Eunice Kennedy Shriver, who passed away last week with little public fanfare, though she deserved great recognition and appreciation.

The Knights of Columbus praised her as the founder of the Special Olympics, while pro-life leaders remembered her stand as a prominent Democrat who objected to the party’s increasing support for abortion.

“No one more than Eunice Kennedy Shriver understood better the power held by the most vulnerable in our society,” Marjorie Dannenfelser, President of the Susan B. Anthony List, said in a statement. “She fought for those hidden in the shadows of life, while acknowledging that they teach us far more than we could ever offer them. She was consistent in her championing of every vulnerable human life.”

According to the Susan B. Anthony List, Eunice and her husband, former Democratic Vice-Presidential candidate Sargent Shriver, joined Pennsylvania Gov. Bob Casey, Sr. and many other influential pro-life leaders in signing a full-page New York Times ad protesting the Democratic Party’s embrace of abortion politics.

The July 1992 ad, titled “The New American Compact,” denounced abortion as a drastic reversal of American progress towards liberty and justice for all. It declared the pro-abortion Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade to be “the most momentous act of exclusion in our history” which deprived every unborn human being of the “most fundamental” human right to life.

The ad also called for support for policies that help both mother and child, concluding:

“We can choose to reaffirm our respect for human life. We can choose to extend once again the mantle of protection to all members of the human family, including the unborn. We can choose to provide effective care of mothers and children. And if we make those choices, America will experience a new birth of freedom, bringing with it a renewed spirit of community, compassion, and caring.”

Jane Abraham, General Chairman of the Susan B. Anthony List, said Mrs. Shriver and her “heart for the most vulnerable” will be “deeply missed.”

“She fought for the dignity inherent in every human life, born and unborn. Her legacy will serve as a life-affirming example to young women everywhere, and for that we are so blessed,” Abraham added.

Amen to that. Rest in peace.

Sheila Liaugminas

Sheila Liaugminas is an Emmy award-winning Chicago-based journalist in print and broadcast media. Her writing and broadcasting covers matters of faith, culture, politics and the media....