Saturday, May 19, 2012

Crisis Management, Kennedy Style

When a mother of four children goes out and hangs herself in the barn, you can be fairly sure that she is trying to make a statement.

Men tend to use more violent and more definitive ways to commit suicide: guns, asphyxiation, and hanging. Women tend to use pills or other methods of self-poisoning. When women try to commit suicide they often leave open the possibility that they will be rescued. Link here.

In the manner she chose to die, Mary Richardson was trying to say something. Now we are left to ask whether anyone will hear it.

Understand her situation: a woman who is about to lose everything… her home, her children, her sanity and her dignity… has nothing left to lose.

Attacked and harassed by her estranged husband through the court system, she sees no way out. Since she is being sued for non-payment of debts, it is reasonable to assume that her husband has refused to pay her bills. Now she suffers the indignity of seeing her estranged husband out in public with his new girlfriend and her children. In addition, her husband is suing for sole custody of her children. She is trying to fight him in a courtroom where he, seemingly, has all the power.

She has nothing left to lose.

If she wants to makes statement with her death, they clearly the statement is about her husband. The manner of her death is one thing he cannot control. With her dying breath she wants to curse him.

She does not want to be rescued at the last minute and then institutionalized under her husband’s control.

But who is going to hear her?

She could not get a fair hearing in court. Can she get a fair hearing in the media? When the object of your curse is a Kennedy you must realize that the Kennedy family is the best in the world at crisis management. 

It has certainly had a lot of practice.

Watch the scene unfold. The press is being filled with accounts showing Robert Kennedy, Jr., as the grieving widower, a man who had tried valiantly to save his wife, but who lost out to her depression.

Now the man who wanted to take away her children wants to welcome her back into the capacious bosom of the Kennedy family. He will allow her to be buried at the Kennedy compound in Hyannisport.

Hearing this, Mary Richardson Kennedy’s siblings were horrified. They went to court yesterday, in a gruesome battle for their sister’s corpse.

The NewYork Post reported:

A bitter family feud between Robert F. Kennedy Jr., and his dead wife’s family exploded yesterday with Mary’s siblings going to court to block her estranged husband from claiming her body just hours before her scheduled wake.

Sources said the siblings were outraged that Kennedy planned on having the troubled architect — who killed herself on Wednesday — buried in Hyannisport, Mass., the heart of Kennedy Country.

Mary’s family, the Richardsons, hired her divorce lawyer, Patricia Hennessey, to try to convince a judge to let them take control of her body, citing the couple’s years-long separation and hotly contested divorce case, sources said.

Her brother took the matter to court:

Richardson’s lawyer brother, Thomas Richardson, had quietly filed the emergency petition on Thursday to get possession of his sister’s body.

The family was upset about how she’d been treated by Kennedy, both during their 16-year marriage and their divorce proceedings.

Mary, who had battled depression and alcohol abuse, had suspected him of cheating on her during their marriage.

And despite his having filed for divorce two years ago, she’d been mortified to see pictures of him stepping out publicly with “Curb Your Enthusiasm” actress Cheryl Hines.

Their divorce case had also gotten nastier in recent months — he’d slapped her with several restraining orders and had her found in contempt of court and had reportedly wrested custody of their four children away from her.

An anonymous friend of Mary Richardson Kennedy declared that she had been “tortured” by Robert Kennedy:

“She has known the Kennedy family for 30 years, yet even she could not believe the lies he said against her in court to take away the children,” said a friend who asked not be identified. “It was so cruel.”

She described Mary as having been “psychologically tortured.”

As you might have guess, in court yesterday Robert Kennedy won. The case has been sealed, but the Post reported on the outcome:

After a daylong closed-door hearing in Westchester Supreme Court attended by Kennedy, two of his teenaged children and Richardson’s sisters and brother, a judge awarded the house and custody of the body to Kennedy.

“Bobby won the rights to the house, to Mary’s body, to have the wake in the house, and to bury Mary in Hyannisport,” a source said of the sealed proceeding.

I suspect that the story is not over yet.


vanderleun said...

Should have shot him dead. She was weak not to have done so.

JP said...

Joe Kennedy was the driver behind the creation of the Kennedy system.

They've entered terminal decline because they are so far removed, in time and culture, from old Joe.

Without the political, intellectual, and economic lynchpin of Joe's (essentially amoral) strategic planning, which truly died with Teddy, they really have nothing to protect them except the legacy.

Camelot has begun its denouement.

Dennis said...

One would hope so. My one and only assignment out of school in the NAVY was sea duty out of Newport. JFK and Jackie would come over to the NAVY piers on their "boat" the Honey Fitz, 50 year old memory, whenever they were at "Hammersmith Farms". I think they sold Hammersmith Farms, but may be in error. I thought the world of them at the time.
Funny how time and a lot of knowledge changes one's mind. The Kennedy family still own a lot of people in Massachusetts so it should surprise no one that the Kennedys can destroy anyone and get away with things for which others would go to jail. Ted Kennedy being a perfect example.

JP said...

I actually have the most respect for JFK and RFK. And mostly because the Cuban Missile crisis was defused without any real damage.

Teddy was an empty vessel, so to speak. For him, I feel mostly pity. He was essentially nothing. A caricature.

For Joe, I feel mostly contempt. And much of that is colored by his treatment of Rose.

The rest seem to be products of their environment. Human exercises of great social power, well outside of their ability to do anything useful with it. They might own a lot of people, but time will change that. I don't think they have a real strategy to *maintain* power. They just use what they have.

topazz said...

I think you got it mostly right here, as far as RFK Jr and his whack sister Kerry - who btw, brings to mind the old adage "with friends like these...." but I think its unfair to paint all the Kennedy's with such a broad swath. With the notable inclusion of drug busts here and there, It is mostly the RFK offspring that have run into trouble, time and time again - and this has carried through well into their 50's. Most of the other Kennedy cousins have led interesting and fascinating lives, which would be expected given their status and wealth -but many are devoted to public service. Bobby & Ethel's kids are consistently showing themselves to be spoiled, entitled, arrogant, egotistical and in RFK Jr's case, cruel beyond belief. It appears to be a common thread among all of them, an attitude that seems to broadcast that the rules don't apply to them. When a devoted mother of 4 - all of them still children under 17 - chooses to hang herself - she is definitely making a statement, one that rings loud and clear above all the claims of "depression" and hints of alcohol and drug use. The public hears you, Mary Richardson - even if your estranged husband did not, and chose to pursue his own selfish agenda over his family. His obvious & blatant changing of your last words to him "I was a good mother" to the idiotic "I was a good girl" notwithstanding. We hear you, and may you rest in peace.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

I agree with you that many members of the Kennedy family have lived good and upstanding lives. Many have made important contributions to the community and the nation.

As I see it, the problem is that when some of the bad members of the family get caught doing some very bad things, the family tends to rally behind them.

If the family wanted to maintain its good name it should distance itself from those who do ill, not embrace them. When it chooses the latter path, it condones bad behavior and tells the world that it cares more for family ties than for public repute.

CatherineM said...

BTW, John Jr. distanced himself that way after he was goaded into supporting the Skakel creep in the Martha Moxley case. I think once his mother died, he was done with rallying to the bad apples - usually RFK's kids.

Brenda said...

"I suspect that the story is not over yet."

me too, Stuart.

At present the Kennedy family spin is dominating the media. There has been not much other than the Kennedy family spin in the media, using "depression" and "alcoholism" to send out the message which absolves RFK Jr.

But I'm holding out for the good old National Enquirer to give some balance. Nothing yet, but I would be surprised if the tabloid press is unable to get a knowledgeable person from the other side to give Mary Richardson Kennedy's story.

As far as "she had nothing left to lose" -- yes she did. She had her life to lose. It's too bad she didn't realize earlier on what a potent enemy she had in her Kennedy family husband. He was much stronger and controlled more resources than she did. It was a losing fight that she was fighting, but probably she expected that "justice" would prevail.

OTOH - I have some problems with the hanging, as you do. Not at all what one would expect from a woman who had enough prescription drugs on hand, which probably she did. And very surprising that no suicide note left, or found, or shared with the media.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

The strange part is, that if Robert Kennedy had gotten up and expressed some regret for the way he himself had behaved of late, people would, at least, have sympathized.

His complete denial and his efforts at damage control will ultimately do far more damage to him and his family's reputation than anything else.

One also has to wonder how the children are dealing with this. Yesterday Mary's family held a memorial service for her. They did not invite her estranged husband and her children also did not attend.

Brenda said...

"His complete denial and his efforts at damage control will ultimately do far more damage to him and his family's reputation than anything else."

I can't help but think you are wrong here, Stuart. He is already getting away with it, just by following the family script. The Kennedy men are examples of very entitled men. They do not apologize for their behaviors. They do not feel regret for their behaviors.

They know how to work the system -- go for custody of the children whether you really want it or not, whether it is in the best interests of the children or not -- because whoever has custody is perceived by the general public to be the one in the right. They are all about image, and preserving their own image at whatever the cost.

lost souls, basically...

nice talking with you, Stuart. Just wanted you to know that just because JFK Jr. created an identity as an environmentalist and a liberal, that doesn't mean he gets a free pass from the rest of us :>)

Stuart Schneiderman said...

Thank you, Brenda. I never thought that this was about his politics... I think that this is about being a Kennedy and acting entitled... especially entitled to behave badly.

You may very well be right. He does seem to be getting away with it now, though see my last post today... which makes his paramour look very bad indeed.

I probably should have expressed myself better, but I was trying to say that, if he were really concerned with his reputation he should have expressed some shame and taken responsibility for his behavior.

I still wonder how this will all affect his children, too.

Brenda said...

"I still wonder how this will all affect his children, too."

I've been thinking about your question, Stuart, and my thinking on this, FWIW, is that the children will make out probably better than most children of divorce. They will be "Kennedys" -- that will be their primary self-identification. They will be absorbed into and be part of a large cohesive family, and there will be plenty of money for therapy. There will be plenty of money for education. There are worse things for children than being Kennedys.

Life goes on. To me, the big thing about this latest Kennedy family imbroglio is that it opens to public view the inside of a divorce. When I was going through a messy divorce to an entitled man, there were two other similarly entitled families going through the same thing. One of the wives did commit suicide. The other wife became permanently disabled psychologically, unable to work again, dependent on the husband who had decimated her. I used them as a negative blueprint of what not to do. You have to get out of their way, that's what I did.

The public perception of "a good divorce", to me that does not exist. It is like warfare. You just try to keep yourself alive and your children also.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

I have also been wondering how these children will do living with a woman whose public display of her affair with their father helped drive their mother to suicide.

I agree with you that they will have the Kennedy family name and money on their side, and I certainly wish them the best. After all, they are all innocent victims.

I also agree with you that the real issue is the way divorce is conducted in many cases. You have lived through it and have seen it. I have seen bad divorces myself. I know that they are a total horror. One of the reasons I wanted to write up this case was to show people what happens in these cases and to state, as clearly as I can, that it is simply unacceptable to treat anyone the way RFK treated Mary Richardson Kennedy... no less the mother of your children.