Rep. Patrick Kennedy, Democrat of Rhode Island, says he won’t run for re-election this year. The decision is understandable: He has checked into rehab clinics a few times, most recently last summer; Republican state legislator John Laughlin has been preparing a spirited challenge; and the Democrats’ loss of his father’s Senate seat in Massachusetts suggests difficulties that he hasn’t had to confront in previous election cycles.
More than a decade ago, I profiled Kennedy for NR. The headline of the story, taken from a nickname given to him by a local radio talker, always has been one of my favorites: “Congressboy.” It was written at a time when his star was on the rise. Since then, it has fallen. This line is wrong: “Today, Patrick’s bad habits seem a thing of the past.” Or if they were a thing of the past when I wrote them, they were nevertheless a part of the future.