While offering condolences to the Kennedy family at this sad moment, it is important to note that his life was not as simple, nor heroic, as is now being portrayed. On the cable channels yesterday, his fellow Senate graybeards, of both parties, were lamenting the passing of what was invariably described as Ted Kennedy’s “collegial” Senate - where voices were seldom raised, and partisan bickering ended when the gavel came down to end the session.
All of which would have come as a surprise to Robert Bork, the Supreme Court nominee of whom the collegial Ted said in 1986:“Robert Bork’s America is a land in which women would be forced into back-alley abortions, blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters . . .”
So much for collegiality. Of course, Kennedy is now endlessly lauded for his support of “women’s rights,” i.e. abortion. But into the 1970s, before the Roman Catholic Church’s influence began to wane, Kennedy was a traditional pro-life New England Democrat.
Here was his take on abortion in 1971: “Wanted or unwanted, I believe that human life, even at its earliest stages, has certain rights which must be recognized - the right to be born, the right to love, the right to grow old.”
There’s a story, perhaps apocryphal, that in his first Senate campaign in 1962, Kennedy was shaking hands at a factory-gate during a shift change. A haggard worker began berating him about how he’d never worked a day in his life. According to the legend, at that point another salt-of-the-earth blue-collar type leaned in and told Kennedy, “Never worked a day in your life, kid? You ain’t missed a thing.”
But in fact he had. Yesterday the tributes kept mentioning his commitment to the “working class.” He fought for, as President Obama said on Martha’s Vineyard of all places, “an America that is more equal and more just.”
But more equal and more just for some people than for others. When it came to the white ethnic working class from which his father came, Kennedy just plain didn’t get it. Whether it was court-ordered busing in Boston in the 1970s, or the affirmative action policies that stymied the careers of so many of his family’s traditional voters, Kennedy never grasped the depth of the blue-collar frustration as he veered left. And what infuriated them even more was that so many of them had grown up in homes where on one side of the mantel was a faded photo of the martyred JFK, and on the other the pope, with a dried-up palm frond given out at Mass on Palm Sunday between them.
Chappaquiddick, of course, never went away. But sometimes Kennedy could seem oblivious even to that ultimate blemish on his career. In 1974, when President Ford pardoned Richard Nixon for his Watergate crimes, Kennedy issued this thundering statement:
“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?”
On issue after issue he was wrong - the nuclear freeze, the Reagan tax cuts, the Immigration Reform Act of 1965, which he assured his Senate colleagues would not lead to a “flood” of immigrants into America’s cities. With a Tele-Promp-Ter, he could be articulate, but when he wasn’t using his glasses to read a prepared statement, he was often an oratorical mess. In 2005, at the National Press Club, he referred to the current president as “Osama bin La-uh, Osama Obama, uh Obama.”
And yet he was always protected by most of the media, who shared his views on just about everything. In 1962, at the behest of President Kennedy, the Boston Globe played the story of his expulsion from Harvard below the fold on the front page. To the very end the Globe did its best to shield him - last week the struggling Times-owned broadsheet broke the story of his deathbed attempt to change the Massachusetts law on Senate succession, without mentioning that he himself had lobbied in 2004 to enact the law he was now denouncing as undemocratic. Only then, he was for stripping the governor of his right to fill a Senate vacancy, because, you see, that governor was a Republican.
The Globe reported that Kennedy was extremely concerned that the people of Massachusetts would have no representation in the Senate for five months until the special election. The fact that he had already missed 97 percent of the Senate roll-call votes in 2009 was not noted until the next day - in a different newspaper.
This is my favorite from Tyranny Sentinnel.
At 77 years old Senator Ted "Splash" Kennedy lived far too long and did far too much damage to this country. His reign of horror may never be erased in fifty generations, assuming we start in 2011. This self-righteous buffoon has gorged at the trough of the taxpayers, lived in the luxury of the elite while pretending to be one with the common man that he loathed so.
The eternal soak in the fire pits of hell are never going to be hot enough to torture a soul that is beyond humanity, humility and fidelity. The mans life was a betrayal of the species, the country, the truth and even, bizarrely, his own cultic followers. Why does it seem that the "leaders" of the "working man" always have yachts and private jets?
This country is better off without his massive ego weighing it down, like a stone around the throat of a kitten thrown into a river. Not something Ted was a stranger to.
There is no possible put-down, joke or name-calling that this inhuman mass did not deserve. There is no possible redemption from the fiery pits for one so sure of his own pomposity as this one. Lets make it clear, the nation has improved greatly from yesterday for now there is one less evil creep among us.
Now I will stop before I get mean.