onvention bears resemblance to John F. Kennedy’s

Erin Ghere

Forty years ago, a young John F. Kennedy strode across the stage at the Democratic National Convention to accept his party’s nomination.
He was a relative unknown. His family name was not in headlines. His fate had not yet been sealed.
The 2000 national convention in Los Angeles has many striking similarities to the 1960 convention: same city, same Kennedy name, similar religious issues.
A devout Catholic, Kennedy was treading into unknown waters, about to become the first Catholic U.S. president. Today, Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Lieberman faces a similar challenge as the first Jew on a major party ticket.
And as four members of the Kennedy party spoke Tuesday, party leaders hoped the spirit of two Democratic leaders, John F. Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy, would be recaptured.
Since JFK’s assassination on Nov. 22, 1963, the Kennedy name and “Camelot”-esque lifestyle they brought to the White House have remained an American symbol of royalty.
Maryland Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, environmentalist Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Massachusetts Sen. Edward Kennedy and Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg spoke at the convention Tuesday.
Townsend is the eldest child of Robert F. Kennedy, who was assassinated in 1968 after a Los Angeles presidential campaign stop.
Schlossberg, who has been primarily absent from public life since her father’s death, spoke of her father’s dedication and dreams.
“I thank all Americans for making me and John, and all of our family, a part of your families — for reaching out and sustaining us through the good times, and the difficult ones, and for helping us dream my father’s dream,” she said.
“As I look across this hall, and across this country, I know my father’s spirit lives on — and I thank all of you,” she added.
John F. Kennedy was nominated when conventions were very different, said University history professor Hy Berman.
The 1960 convention was exciting because three candidates — Lyndon B. Johnson, Hubert H. Humphrey and Kennedy — were vying for the nomination, he explained
He said today’s conventions, where there is little disagreement on the nominee, are boring and “far from what we intended them to be.”
Once Kennedy was chosen, the issue of his religion became important.
“Could a Catholic be president and should Catholic be president,” Berman said.
The questions stemmed from American bigots and anti-Catholicism sentiments, he said.
Berman said he thinks Lieberman’s religion will play less of a role in this campaign because most voters who would be anti-Semitic would not vote for the Democratic ticket anyway.

Erin Ghere welcomes comments at [email protected]