The Kennedys turned the idea of "service" on its head. Self-service is more like it. Despite amassing a fortune through the illegal bootlegging trade, they seldom parted with a dime of their own, earning the tag of being cheap even to lowly waitresses and bag claim attendants.
Rather than sharing their wealth, the fed at the public trough as royalty. Their congressional seats were bought and reelections seen as entitlements.
The first sign of their impending fall was when Caroline was snubbed in her quest for a royal appointment to Hillary Clinton's New York Senate seat. With zero qualifications for the job, she still thought it would be handed to her.
Patrick thought himself bigger than the Pope, asserting that he knew more about Catholic theology in matters of faith and morals. The resulting slam-down wasn't pretty.
And as the government takeover of health care falters, an initiative described as Ted Kennedy's lifelong dream, it appears the clout he once enjoyed has not extended past his death.
The fact is, there was no mystique to begin with. John and Bobby Kennedy's accomplishments belonged to a different time. The myths that grew up around them long since dispelled.