New transcripts from the Edward M. Kennedy Presidential Oral History Project
The Miller Center releases eight interviews: John Kenneth Galbraith, Charles Ferris, Michael Enzi, and more
In the past 14 years, the Edward M. Kennedy Oral History Project has contructed an archive of spoken recollections and reflections that illuminates the late Senator Kennedy's public life, his vocation, the institution in which he served, and the political world in which he moved.
The interviews cover a broad range of politically and biographically important topics, including Kennedy's pre-Senate years and mastering politics, his relationship to his brothers and their career choices, his rise to the Senate leadership, his political style, his Senate and presidential campaigns, his public causes and how he sought to advance them, and his legacy.
These eight were recently made public:
Marcia Greenberger, Copresident of National Women’s Law Center
Greenberger discusses her working relationship with Senator Kennedy 1973–2007, covering the efforts to pass Title IX, the Civil Rights Restoration Act, and the Civil Rights Act of 1991, as well as judicial nominations during that time.
Christopher Jennings, Senior healthcare advisor under Bill Clinton
Jennings offers his early recollections of Senator Kennedy and follows with an extensive discussion of the Pepper Commission and its key players. He opines on Kennedy as legislator and senator. He covers Kennedy's role in the Health Security Act and healthcare efforts under Bill Clinton. The Kennedy-Kassebaum bill is mentioned, as are Medicare/Medicaid issues and the Children’s Health Insurance Program. There is broad-spectrum discussion of healthcare reform.
Kathleen Kruse, Cultural Policy Advisor, Senior Counselor
Kruse discusses Senator Kennedy’s passion for the arts and humanities, including his love of history. She recounts his work during the “culture wars” surrounding the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Mona Sarfaty, Health-care staffer
Sarfaty relates how she came to work on Senator Kennedy’s staff. She speaks in detail of other staffers. There is extensive discussion of Kennedy's role in AIDS and tobacco policies. She mentions the shift in focus that occurred when David Kessler became commissioner of the Food & Drug Administration. The CHIP, SCHIP, and Welfare to Work programs are touched on, as are the leadership of Tom Rollins and Nick Littlefield.
Clayton Spencer, chief education counsel to the U.S. Senate Committee on Labor and Human Resources
Spencer discusses her work with Senator Kennedy on student loan reform and preserving education funding during budget cuts in the mid-1990s.
Michael Enzi, Senator, Wyoming
Enzi, a Republican U.S. Senator, discusses his collaboration with Senator Kennedy on various pieces of legislation: the pension benefits bill; the Mine Improvement and New Emergency Response Act (MINER Act of 2006), which Enzi wrote; the revisions to mine safety his committee got approved; and also about how Senator Kennedy conducted himself as chair of the Labor Committee when Senator Enzi was the ranking member. As wide as their political party divide was, he and Senator Kennedy were able to overcome their differences to get legislation passed.
Charles Ferris, Aide to Senator Mike Mansfield
Ferris begins by describing his career up to the point of joining Senator Mike Mansfield’s staff. He discusses Mansfield’s relationship with John F. Kennedy, and his own relationship with Robert F. Kennedy. He speaks of the bipartisan nature of the Senate during the 1950s, ’60s, and ’70s. There is discussion of the Vietnam War and Senator Mansfield’s opposition to it. Senator Edward Kennedy’s time as Majority Whip is mentioned. Ferris brings up the establishment of the Watergate Committee and Senator Mansfield’s role in that. There is discussion of giving 18-year-olds the right to vote. Ferris touches on his time in Representative Tip O’Neill’s office, and there is particular mention of the Northern Ireland peace process. He speaks of his friendship with Senator Kennedy and of the Kennedys’ influence on America. He contrasts Edward and Robert Kennedy and, in that context, there is a brief discussion of the Francis Morrissey judgeship nomination.
John Kenneth Galbraith, diplomat and Harvard faculty member
Galbraith discusses Kennedy’s emergence from the shadows of his father and three older brothers to become a “top-notch” senator. He remembers fondly their talks on economics and issues of particular effect on Kennedy’s Massachusetts constituency and beyond.