Last week, I wrote that the loss of the “Kennedy seat” in the Senate to the Republicans in Massachusetts could be followed by the loss of the “Kennedy seat” in the House for Rhode Island.  Apparently, Patrick Kennedy must have thought the same thing.  In a surprise leak last night, Kennedy will not seek re-election in 2010:

The decision by the eight-term congressman comes less than a month after a stunning Republican upset in the race for the Massachusetts Senate seat his late father, Edward Kennedy, held for almost half a century.

Patrick Kennedy has been in and out of treatment for substance abuse since crashing his car outside the U.S Capitol in 2006. Still, he has been comfortably re-elected twice since then, after making mental health care his signature issue in Washington.

Kennedy plans to air two-minute commercials about his decision to air on three Rhode Island TV stations on Sunday night.

Kennedy did win re-election afterward, but those elections came in 2006 and 2008, at the height of anti-GOP sentiment in the nation.  Times have clearly changed, although it did take Kennedy a little time to realize it.  Just a few days after Scott Brown won his father’s seat in the Senate, Kennedy called it “a joke”, as the boss recalled last night.

Kennedy will no doubt have other reasons to offer for his withdrawal, but people in his district seemed ready for a change.  According to a poll reported by WPRI, Kennedy had lost his traditional bases of support:

  • Majorities in every age demo give Kennedy either “fair” or “poor” job approval numbers
  • Only 40% of women give him “excellent” or “good” ratings, with 57% negative
  • 59% of union households rate him fair or poor
  • Democrats approve of Kennedy 57%/40%, while independents show 25%/72%
  • On ObamaCare, the overall mood of the state is significantly negative, 38%/50%

More to the point, though, the Kennedys represent the past, and not just because of their family name.  For the first time in post-WWII history, the Democrats have a progressive in the White House while Democrats control both chambers of Congress.  But when Democrats tried to force a progressive agenda of government control of health care, energy, and manufacturing through Capitol Hill, a funny thing happened: the country didn’t thrill to the dawning of Camelot Aquarius.  Instead, the lurch leftward prompted a nationwide reaction of opposition to government control and skyrocketing debt and federal spending.  Barack Obama has tried to pass himself off as a return to Camelot (with the help of certain so-called journalists eager to do the same), but as it happens, the country not only didn’t want a return to Camelot, they didn’t want to turn into Europe, either.

The Kennedy name no longer carries the cachet it once did, and the progressive agenda their family espoused has been exposed as the same old Euro-style socialism that failed over the last few decades on the Continent.  Patrick Kennedy’s exit will be just the acknowledgment of a legacy long ago run down to empty.

Update: Jules Crittenden evokes TS Eliot in “Out with a whimper.” This is the way a dynasty ends, this is the way a dynasty ends …