Democrats Select Joe Kennedy III To Deliver State Of The Union Rebuttal Speech

Trump State of the Union Joe Kennedy III
Rep. Joseph Kennedy III, D-Mass., is giving the rebuttal to the State of the Union address | Photo credit J. Scott Applewhite

After a tough couple of weeks, Democrats are looking to put a mark in the win column. The party announced that Joe Kennedy III will give the customary rebuttal to the State of the Union address President Trump is giving next Wednesday. But he won’t bring them the victory they’re hoping for. 

On Friday, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi announced that Representative Kennedy would rebut the SOTU. While not well-known outside of Massachusetts, his family name transcends politics.

Before running for Congress, the great-nephew of President John F. Kennedy worked as a state prosecutor. The 37-year old also assisted on the final election campaign of his great-uncle, the late Senator Ted Kennedy.

However, despite his family’s legacy, the congressman is relatively new to the political arena. And now, Democrats are trotting him out like a poster boy for the working-class. They see him as the lifeline that can repair the party’s disconnect with American voters.

“Congressman Kennedy profoundly understands the challenges facing hard-working men and women across the country,” Pelosi said in a statement. “His leadership has been vital in educating a next-generation workforce, in creating good-paying manufacturing jobs and in expanding opportunities for the middle class.”

Unfortunately for Pelosi and company, their plan has a few problems.

Then and Now

John-Robert-Joe Kennedy III
John and Robert Kennedy pictured left in 1960 and Joseph Kennedy III in 2012

For one, JFK and Robert Kennedy were not ideologically liberal Democrats. Theirs was a completely different party from the one that Joe Kennedy III belongs to today. If you’ve ever read Profiles in Courage or listened to a JFK a speech, then you know what we mean.

Second, you can be almost certain that if John or Robert were running for president today they would be conservatives. Or at least Libertarians. And, as it turns out, Trump is a great admirer of the late president.

In fact, some of his policies emulate those put forth by JFK, including the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

So if Democrats are trying to attract younger voters using the Kennedy name it won’t work. That group doesn’t know the Kennedy family. And if they’re hoping to win back older, middle-class voters, that will fail too. That’s the group that voted for Donald Trump.