Let’s get a little messy for a second.
In 2012 I worked on the first congressional campaign for Joe Kennedy III. I’ve written before about the unceremonious way that experience ended for me. I do not live in Massachusetts or follow MA politics. I haven’t had any professional relationship with Joe’s team since 2013. Still, it’s hard to shake the stick of a name like Kennedy.
Even after you exit a Kennedy’s orbit, you feel compelled to do them favors, like you owe them something. Their name will always be bigger than yours. When I was working in the Capitol, I took time off one day, which happened to be my birthday, to give Joe’s inlaws a special tour of the Senate. I was very charming and knowledgeable. I did not get a thank you note from him, but more tellingly, I never expected one. I’m realizing it feels weird and too-familiar for me to call him Joe now. I should stop.
From everything I’ve heard and seen, Rep. Kennedy is a good congressman and a decent person. Great! But his business in 2019 does not concern me. So, I was pretty surprised to find myself on an email (sent en masse to dozens of 2012 campaign staffers…not…and I can’t stress this enough...BCC’d), urging me to sign a petition encouraging him to “jump” into the 2020 Senate race—to challenge a sitting Democratic senator. And not in that good and holy way of challenging a Democratic senator: from the left, with staunch liberal cred and youthful changemaker energy. No, more in that classic patrician flavor of: I have a fancy name and we should put it to use.
The tone of the email was insulting. I was encouraged to “cheer him on,” as if by signing this petition, I would help give sweet Joe here—Joe because the email treats him like a child in a T-ball tournament, and not a grown-ass man with a job in the United States Congress—the ego boost of knowing he’s wanted.
Rep. Kennedy can’t simply announce his candidacy for Senate, problematic as that would be. No, we have to beg him for it. We have to cheer. We have to plead. We need you, Joe! (Never am I told why we need him, in these emails). In what world am I begging a 38-year-old, hyper-privileged white man to challenge a sitting liberal senator with a record of leadership on climate change? Because he's rich? Because his name is on an airport? Because his jawline can clip grass and slice ham? Because he is 38? Sir, you are not the youth we have been waiting for.
The entitlement is breathtaking and embarrassing, and so, so lame. It’s left a rotten taste in my mouth. This piece in Slate sums up, my personal feelings aside, why this is such an irritating endeavor. But let me state firmly and finally, my days of cheering on privileged white men are long gone.
Today’s deep reads are all about inspiring women putting in the work, e.g. Naomi Osaka, Greta Thurnberg, Clara Schumann, Katie Holmes’ cashmere bra.
Normani and the Work of the Pop Princess by Doreen St. Félix (New Yorker)
Lavender velour, pop showmanship, hard work, flawless choreography—these are things I will always be here for.
Stacey Abrams’s fight for voting rights matters more than her political future by P.R. Lockhart (Vox)
The rare politician who places electoral justice and structural change above ego.
Clara Schumann, Music’s Unsung Renaissance Woman by Thomas May (NY Times)
Recognizing a Romantic composer and virtuoso on her 200th birthday.
Naomi Osaka and Coco Gauff teach a lesson in humility and sportsmanship by D'Arcy Maine (ESPN)
“She searched for Gauff's parents in the crowd while her voice broke in emotion and her eyes filled with tears. ‘I remember I used to see you guys training in the same place as us, and, for me, the fact that both of us made it, and we're both still working as hard as we can, it's incredible. I think you guys are amazing, and Coco, I think you're amazing.’”
I can’t think about this moment without weeping, throwing my hands up in the air, and shouting at the sun god: GIRLS ARE EVERYTHING.
Greta Thunberg’s Slow Boat to New York by Emily Witt (New Yorker)
A triumphant, inspiring figure in a sea (so to speak) of grim forecasts and political apathy. Greta today, Greta tomorrow, Greta forever.
Julia Wick tells a beautifully human story about Modesto straight pride in yesterday’s LA Times. I can’t seem to find a full version online, but subscribe to the daily newsletter she writes for the paper, Essential California.
Not a woman but worth the exemption: No one is better at award shows than John Travolta.
Lastly, I could write 5000 words on Katie Holmes cashmere bra, connecting it to Sue Ellen Mischke, white glorification of a pre-industrial ethos (“barley”), the humidity index, the shackles of Scientology, 2003 Juicy Couture cashmere sweatpants I bought that ripped straight up the ass seam on first use, who gets to be comfortable, and what it’s like to covet a piece of clothing that fundamentally, geometrically, was not made for your body (bbs if you think featherweight knit can hold up anything north of a C-cup I have a bridge to sell you). Hire me!