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By George, JFK Jr. Breaks the Code of Silence

August 12, 1997|From Reuters

NEW YORK — John F. Kennedy Jr. tackles the controversies surrounding his cousins Joseph and Michael Kennedy in the new issue of his monthly political magazine George, saying they became "poster boys for bad behavior."

Writing about temptation in the editor's letter in the September issue of George, Kennedy said the two men had "chased an idealized alternative to their life" and "perhaps . . . should have known better."

His words were unusual in that Kennedy family members rarely speak out publicly about one another, especially in scandals and other controversies.

John F. Kennedy Jr. is the only son of the late president, and Joseph and Michael Kennedy are sons of the president's late brother Atty. Gen. Robert Kennedy.

Joseph Kennedy, a Democratic member of the House of Representatives from Massachusetts, had his 12-year marriage to Sheila Rauch Kennedy annulled last year. The move prompted her to write a book, "Shattered Faith" (Pantheon), opposing the Roman Catholic Church's annulment process.

Joseph's younger brother Michael allegedly had a five-year affair with a teenage baby sitter, but authorities have not filed charges because the alleged victim would not cooperate.

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For an issue listing "the 20 most fascinating women in politics," John Kennedy Jr. commented on the view that leading a respectable life leads to temptation, but conformity produces a suffocating life.

"I've seen the cycle up close in the past year. Two members of my family chased an idealized alternative to their life. One left behind an embittered wife, and another, in what looked to be a hedge against mortality, fell in love with youth and surrendered his judgment in the process. Both became poster boys for bad behavior.

"Perhaps they deserved it. Perhaps they should have known better. To whom much is given, much is expected, right? The interesting thing was the ferocious condemnation of their excursions beyond the bounds of acceptable behavior. Since when does someone need to apologize on television for getting divorced?

"But perhaps there was some comfort in watching the necessary order assert itself. The discontents of civilized life look positively benign when compared with the holy terror visited upon the brave and stupid."

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