Saturday, August 29, 2009

On Ted Kennedy

My one and only Ted Kennedy story goes back to 1980, when I worked at a state park on Long Island where Kennedy had docked his boat (actually, it was docked there for him), in the midst of his sinking presidential bid. I remember the workers of the park having to scrub that park clean and pull up every stray weed we could find, to make the place immaculate for the great senator. Finally (with us lowly workers safely kept away), Kennedy bounced out of his car, waved (I think), got on his boat and sailed away. Alas, so much for the “common touch."

Oh well, maybe that’s the way senators are (although I had met others who were or were to be in the Senate, who seemed to have no such problem talking with the public; I interviewed former Senator and Vice President Dan Quayle in 1994 and soon-to-be Senator George Voinovich at about the same time; and chatted with Senator Gary Hart in 1983).
As much as part of me wants to praise the “Lion of the Senate” for his lifetime of achievements, I can’t. I’m sure his dealings with political opponents were cordial and friendly; and maybe he DID think highly of Rev. Jerry Falwell, whom he befriended, and Falwell was able to speak some of the truths of God into his life (much the same way, I believe, that Rev. Billy Graham was able to do so with the senator’s older brother, President John F. Kennedy, according to Graham’s autobiography).

So why CAN’T I offer my accolades for Kennedy?

1) Let’s start with his unbelievable fanatical support for abortion on demand, which has led to millions of unborn being slaughtered. He did this flying in the face of his Catholic upbringing, and in contradiction to a statement in 1971 that he believed in protecting the life of the unborn (click on his letter on the matter above). Is it any wonder Pope Benedict XVI has kept mum on Kennedy’s death?
2) There’s tons of materials on the Chappaquiddick incident, so I’ll let you sort through all that. What the 1969 incident comes down to is this: he was willing to leave a young woman, Mary Jo Kopechne, to drown in his submerged car--and subsequently to lie about the accident--to save his political career. While Chappaquiddick did prevent Kennedy from becoming president, it did not stop Massachusetts voters from blindly voting him back to the Senate. And if he ever formally apologized to Mary Jo’s family, I have yet to read about it.

3) Then there was his collaboration with the KGB, to try and derail President Ronald Reagan’s foreign policy dealings with the Evil Empire, the Soviet Union. See this link.
4) “Do we operate under a system of equal justice under law? Or is there one system for the average citizen and another for the high and mighty?” Kennedy made this statement when ex-President Richard Nixon was pardoned by President Gerald Ford in 1974, following the Watergate scandal. The same question should have been put to him. The arch-environmentalist, for example, opposed having wind mills set up near his Cape Cod sailing waters. The champion of women’s rights was infamous for his exploitation and abuse of women. And yet the national media never really called him to account for these contradictions. In fact, one of the few times national media came close to criticizing him was at the end of the 1980 Democratic convention in New York. President Jimmy Carter had just given his famous nomination speech (when he called Hubert Humphrey “Hubert Horatio Hornblower”). The defeated Kennedy then joined Carter on stage—and roamed around accepting applause, while ignoring Carter and refusing to lift up Carter’s hand to acknowledge his support for the president. The TV commentators were perplexed by Kennedy’s selfish display.

So I’m sure the media will be bellowing its mourning for Kennedy until the end of the year (unlike its coverage of other long-serving senators from both sides of aisle, including Humphrey and Jesse Helms). I sympathize with the fact that Kennedy suffered from brain cancer, a horrible death I would wish on no one, and pray for comfort for his family. But you’ll have to excuse my not joining in on the national dirge (which President Obama will no doubt use to try and ram through his flailing health care nationalization).

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