Skip to comments.Remembering the Darker Side of Teddy Kennedy
Posted on 08/28/2009 3:30:58 AM PDT by Kaslin
The death of Sen. Edward Kennedy, we are being told, should strengthen our resolve to act in a bipartisan fashion. Many of the tributes, from former presidents and Republican colleagues, have stressed the late senator's willingness to find "common ground." Well, since ancient Rome we've been exhorted not to speak ill of the dead. But neither should we completely disfigure the truth.
Before offering some less than hagiographic reflections on the late Sen. Edward Kennedy (may he rest in peace), one pleasant memory: About a decade ago, I was late for a party in northwest Washington D.C. -- a neighborhood not known for abundant parking spaces. After circling the block several times, I spied a cramped space and determined that somehow I was going to fit my minivan into it. Just then, a large man approached walking two Portuguese Water Dogs. He stopped, saw my predicament, and proceeded to guide me into the space with lots of laughter, encouragement, and a little bit of teasing. I knew (obviously) that my Good Samaritan was the senior senator from Massachusetts. I have no reason to think he recognized me.
So I have personal experience of Teddy Kennedy's charm and affability. The many stories of his personal kindnesses to others (including those with whom he disagreed politically) speak well of him -- to a point. But Kennedy was a politician who too often permitted his own sense of righteousness to overwhelm the large reservoir of decency that he is reported to have possessed. He could trample on conservatives with, it seems, hardly a pang of conscience. He may have been the "great liberal lion" of the U.S. Senate, but some of us cannot forget that his tactics were often low and dishonorable.
Former President George W. Bush was characteristically gracious about Kennedy ("a great man") in his comments since his death, but Kennedy went after Bush utterly without scruple. Consider Kennedy's shrill attacks on President Bush's decision to invade Iraq. In 2002, Sen. Kennedy himself had said, "There is no doubt that Saddam Hussein's regime is a serious danger, that he is a tyrant, and that his pursuit of lethal weapons of mass destruction cannot be tolerated. He must be disarmed." But just a year later, Kennedy was saying, "This was made up in Texas, announced in January to the Republican leadership that war was going to take place and was going to be good politically. This whole thing was a fraud." In 2004, Kennedy said, "Before the war, week after week after week we were told lie after lie after lie after lie . . . the president's war is revealed as mindless, needless, senseless, reckless."
Kennedy did not -- perhaps could not -- accept that the Bush administration had made a good faith decision to use military force (as his brother did in the Bay of Pigs and Vietnam). Instead, he contributed to conspiracy theories about Bush's true motives. Echoing the most inflamed leftist websites, Kennedy alleged that "the President and his senior aides began the march to war in Iraq in the earliest days of the administration, long before the terrorists struck this nation on 9/11."
When the abuses at Abu Ghraib prison came to light, disgust and abhorrence were expressed pretty universally and certainly bipartisanly. But Kennedy, unable to resist a cheap political shot, actually compared the U.S. to Saddam Hussein, saying, "Shamefully, we now learn that Saddam's torture chambers reopened under new management -- U.S. management."
Sen. Kennedy's rhetorical ruthlessness was perhaps most famously displayed within minutes of the nomination of Judge Robert Bork to the Supreme Court. The world now knows that Bob Bork is one of the most intelligent, witty, reasonable, and civilized men in America. But at the time, few knew anything about him. Kennedy rushed to the Senate floor to introduce a grotesque bogeyman: "Robert Bork's America is a land in which women would be forced into back-alley abortions, blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters, rogue police could break down citizens' doors in midnight raids, schoolchildren could not be taught about evolution, writers and artists could be censored at the whim of the Government, and the doors of the Federal courts would be shut on the fingers of millions of citizens for whom the judiciary is -- and is often the only -- protector of the individual rights that are the heart of our democracy."
Judge Bork recounted later that when he met privately with the senator, Kennedy mumbled, "Nothing personal." When you have calumniated a man before the entire world, you cannot claim that it isn't personal.
One hopes that the Kennedy family will find comfort in the days ahead. But I cannot join those who uphold Teddy Kennedy as a model public servant, far less as an exemplar of any sort of bipartisanship.
Ms. Charen didn't proof her work before submitting it. This is an incredibly awkward phrasing.
Having said that, the headline is misleading. Talking about the darker side of Ted Kennedy implies that he had a lighter side. The man did more to harm this country than any single individual since the first white men settled here in 1607.
Ted Kennedy’s death has been too late in coming.
He helped lead American Catholics straight towards abortion, too.
consider Nixon gave him Health care on a platter, but he was too drunk to see it in the early 1970’s.
Affable? All I ever saw of this walking caricature of humanity was from afar. He may have been many things. He was never a good man. Nothing personal, you understand.
The man was a craven political pig with the scruples of, well, a Kennedy. I know of no other more partisan, ugly, wanton, narcissistic, deplorable form of human life than was the idiot son of a mobster who traded on his family's political name and personal tragedy to such otherwise unjustifiable personal gain.
He spent his entire adult life sucking at the public tit like a tick, spewing venom for those with whom he disagreed, making his own life a poster-child for the old law school ethic, "If you have the Law on your side, pound the Law. If you have the facts, pound the facts. If you have neither the Law nor the facts, pound the desk!"
The alleged "lion of the Senate" was, in fact, the great, knuckle dragging, gin-blossomed, halitosis-blowing ape. He didn't, and dosen't deserve to be mentioned in the same breath with truly great men like George W. Bush or Robert Bork.
Good riddance to bad rubbish. He's where he belongs now.
>>> So I have personal experience of Teddy Kennedy’s charm and affability. <<<<<
A former girlfreind had experience with his “charm and affability” when, as a young college intern to his Boston office, was told in her orientation to never, ever, under any circumstances get into the elevator alone with the fine affable late-40’s Senator.
It was not an office joke, it was a stern warning.
And so she did not.
Teddy’s darker side was his whole INside.
The absolute worst of the Kennedy spawn seems to have outlasted all the rest of them.
Obama is quickly catching up.
Of course, the Kennedy political machine is seeking the next family member to justify its continued existence. Rumor around here in MA has it that Joe Kennedy is interested in Uncle Ted’s senate seat. Joe is not like Ted, though. He’s less affable and more arrogant.
I used to dream about the Red Sox beating the “Curse of the Bambino” and winning a World Series title within my lifetime. I still dream about living long enough to see MA rid itself of its “Curse of the Kennedys”.
Nothing is impossible. Up until the Great Depression, MA was solidly Republican, and many of those Republicans were not RINOs, but the likes of Calvin Coolidge and Henry Cabot Lodge, Sr., whose political ideals were closer to those of Ron Paul than to any other contemporary Republicans. The Ivy League schools were at one time bastions of Calvinist Christianity as they are now bastions of Marxism. The day may come when those institutions will abandon the false gospel as they formerly abandoned the Christian faith.
The Kennedy family, like the Adams line two centuries earlier, will fade into obscurity. The enormous wealth of the patriarch, Joseph Kennedy, Sr., is in the process of dissipating, much as the wealth of the great families of the 19th Century had done.
let the devil has his way with TED
If Kennedy is some kind of mentor for the American people, we should all find an abandoned bridge to drive over.
Thanks for the encouraging words. It’s too easy to get politically depressed living in MA.
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