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Boys will be boys, a penitent (and 28-year-old) Shriver later explained to Trump. It was only his name that turned a misguided prank into a national news story. Perhaps Shriver is simply tired of wearing the mantle of "Son of Camelot," of being the repository for so many other people's dreams.
Are you sick of being a Kennedy?
"It's not like it was," he demurs good-naturedly. "A lot of it has dissipated, especially outside Massachusetts. People get a little excited here and there, but it's not like I'm Beyoncé and people are screaming when I walk by." But "the benefits far outweigh the negatives," he adds. "It's an enormous asset in what I do. Raising money is tough. Setting up boards and programs, it's tough. Every little advantage you can muster up helps, and having that name helps enormously -- especially in going to a foreign country. It gets everything moving rapidly. When I flew into Colombia, I was able to meet right away with the president. I could never do that if I weren't a Kennedy. The First Lady joined Best Buddies the next day."
After two hours of conversation, Kulchur is beginning to feel like the heavy in a Frank Capra film, putting the squeeze on an earnest Jimmy Stewart. With all the machinations and back-room maneuverings that have traditionally defined Florida politics, Shriver's reluctance to "play the game," to accede to other folks' expectations of what a Kennedy should do, may be one of his most appealing qualities. To be sure, his long-range vision is set on a date far beyond 2006.
"I was talking to my uncle last summer," Shriver remembers, describing a philosophical powwow with Sen. Edward Kennedy, "and he said that everybody starts off trying to get to the top of Mt. Everest, the pinnacle of success. Over his life, he's learned that once you start climbing, there's really nothing else you have to do. Once you get close to the top, you're by yourself. Everybody else has fallen off, they've got so many issues: They're divorced, their kids got messed up, they lost their job, they changed direction five times, they have emotional problems, they became drug addicts. Everybody else has so many challenges, that if you just stay focused and keep your head down, keep doing what you need to do every day, there's a good chance you'll be the guy who ascends to the summit without beating up anybody else. They'll have all fallen off.
"I'm not saying he's the greatest guy in the world, but you have to admit he's a great senator. He's been sitting there grinding it out for 42 years. Guys come, guys go, but he just keeps hammering away. You can accomplish an enormous amount if you stay focused and keep grinding it out day after day.
"That's one of the advantages of Best Buddies. There are a lot of people who've been here for a long time. We get the message, we understand our influence, we feel the emotional connection with the cause. It would take a lot for someone like me to break away from that."