Two political deals worth knowing for political junkies

When John F. Kennedy was elected President in 1960, his U.S. Senate seat was filled by a college friend, Benjamin Smith, appointed by the Democratic Governor of Massachusetts at the request of the President-elect. Smith was a caretaker, serving until the youngest Kennedy brother became old enough to run. Ted Kennedy was 30-year-old when he ran for his brother’s old seat in 1962. “If your name were Edward Moore instead of Edward Moore Kennedy, your candidacy would be a joke,” said state Attorney General Edward McCormack, who challenged Kennedy in the Democratic primary. But his name was Kennedy: he easily won the primary and general elections. President Lyndon Johnson appointed 39-year-old Ramsey Clark (in the news now as one of Sadaam Hussein’s defense lawyers) as U.S. Attorney General in 1967, allegedly to entice U.S. Supreme Court Justice Tom Clark to retire. Johnson, at that point a candidate for re-election, wanted to appoint Thurgood Marshall as the first African American Justice. Clark resigned a few weeks after his son was confirmed — to obviate a conflict of interest, he said. “Tom Clark was my biggest mistake,” said President Harry Truman, who appointed him to the high court in 1947. “It isn’t so much that he’s a bad man. It’s just that he’s such a dumb son of a bitch.”

Two political deals worth knowing for political junkies