Certainly, Kennedy was a powerful senator, and a political tour de force. I give him that much. I will also respect the left’s affection for a man who carried the standard for so many of their causes.
But there is the other reality. The man had the personal ethics of a back alley crap shooter. Throughout most of his life he was noted for his lapses, not his achievements. He got into Harvard not on the merits of his intellect or academic achievement, but simply due to the pocketbook of his parents – a practice that has brought scandal down on the University of Illinois system. He was bounced out of Harvard twice for cheating. Daddy’s money took care of that.
He was both cowardly and criminal in leaving the scene of an accident that cost the life of MaryJo Kopechne. He ran from the scene in an attempt to conceal his involvement. He called family and political aides before police and medics. Reports suggest that the young lady had enough air trapped in the submerged vehicle to have survived a rescue. One judge said outright that the late senator was the cause of MaryJo’s death. By all accounts, the distinguished senator from Massachusetts was guilty of vehicular homicide. Again the Kennedy money thwarted justice and accountability.
He destroyed is first marriage, and almost destroyed his first wife, with womanizing, drunkenness and belligerence. His fame and financial contributions to a corrupt Catholic Church system bought him a unique annulment after a long consummated marriage with children – and disrespect to the Church that genuflected to the Kennedy power and wealth.
While his office issued central casting photos of a handsome statesman with flowing white hair, the tabloids had a field day showing the real Ted Kennedy as a blubberous drunken sot cavorting with an endless string of women.
The man dubbed as the “Lion of the Senate” by a fawning gallery of liberal leaders was really more of an alley cat.
He slowed down in later years, his body somewhat ravaged by decades of abuse. Once it was obvious the Kennedy clan had no inherited right to the Oval Office, and his flaws were great to win public acceptance as the nation’s leader, Kennedy seemed to focus on his career almost exclusively. Perhaps there was a moment of epiphany -- a redemption that somehow escaped the Kennedy public relations machine. I hope so. I hope he found his way to heaven. I really do. But that does not mean I find his departure from this mortal shore an uncompromised loss. It still could be that he took more from this world than he gave.
It is ironic that the Democrats should lose his voice and his vote as Congress comes to a moment of truth on Kennedy’s trademark issue – nationalized healthcare.
May he rest in peace.