The XX Factor

The Kennedy Funeral

Watch Ted Kennedy Jr’s eulogy for his father. I defy you not to cry when he tells the story of his father taking him sledding shortly after he lost his leg to cancer as a boy. Ted Jr. also makes a nod to his father’s significant personal failings. The Kennedy dynasty is at an end, but here’s someone who clearly has it all: the smarts, looks, charisma. Surely he could have had a political career; it’s perfectly understandable that he’s chosen not to.

He got huge applause and a standing ovation following his eulogy. I understand the impulse, but traditionally one does not applaud in houses of worship during religious ceremonies. Hearing the applause for him (and the more tepid applause for his brother Patrick’s needy eulogy), that prohibition seems wise. Applause turns a ceremony into a performance, and implicitly ends up judging the quality of the “work” done by the “performers.”

Photograph of Ted Kennedy, Jr. by CJ Gunther-Pool/Getty Images.