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Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Ghosts of Chappaquiddick

When Senator Ted Kennedy was first diagnosed with a brain tumor, I wrote a piece titled, "No Tears for Ted", now with the media awash in salty tears for the departed Ted Kennedy, I can only reaffirm what I wrote then, "Still, No Tears for Ted."

Ted Kennedy was no great statesman. Like his brothers, he was the product of privilege and born to power. Unlike his brothers, he could not even be bothered to maintain the charade of the statesman. If JFK and RFK could pose for Dorian Gray portraits, flashing sunny smiles, delivering impressive sounding speeches and maintaining the appearances that covered up the underlying Kennedy corruption, Ted Kennedy didn't bother much.  Or need to.

The Kennedy family were the closest thing America had to royalty, and like many of the younger brothers of kings, Ted Kennedy felt free to wallow in his disgusting appetites, to do his worst, confident that the memory of his martyred brothers would serve as a shield for his worst excesses and crimes. And the worst thing about it all, was that he was right. The tearful eulogies, the heaped baskets of praise and the shameless use of his death as a political rallying cry demonstrates one ugly thing, that for self-proclaimed royalty there are neither morals nor law. La roi est mort. Now is the cue to shed your tears.

Ted Kennedy outlived not only John F. Kennedy, but his son as well. He outlived scandal after scandal. He outlived his own relevance. And now he is to be buried with the honors fit for a great leader. A foreigner passing by might wonder, has America lost another Lincoln or another Roosevelt, no it has only lost another Kennedy, and we unfortunately have no shortage of those.

The worst crime of the Kennedy family was not in their almost supernatural corruption, or a past rife with bootlegging and Nazi sympathizing... but in their dogged determination to imprint themselves as mythical figures across the face of American history. Not because of anything they did, but by transforming the name Kennedy itself into a brand, crossing it with Camelot, to create the illusion of nobility where there was none, and the myth of a great era cut short.

The myth of the Kennedy family is completely disconnected from reality. What if anything have they done to merit that myth, besides dying tragically before their time? The short answer is nothing. JFK was considered a disaster while in office. That side of his presidency is a legacy mainly left at the feet of LBJ, because he lived, while John Kennedy did not. Both brothers left behind a legacy of nepotism mixed with hearty dollops of voter fraud, racism, not to mention two areas that liberals would go on to fervently hate, Vietnam and McCarthyism. But the Kennedy myth applied rose colored glasses so that the brothers are not remembered for anything they actually did, so much as for a phrase or two from their speeches, and the tragic myth of a new generation's dream cut short by assassin's bullets.

Obama would self-consciously lift Kennedy's tactics, from the Chicago voter fraud that arguably made JFK America's second illegal President (after Hayes, Obama would be the third), to more importantly the style over substance approach that enabled Kennedy to triumph by connecting with a clueless youth vote. But it was the Kennedy family that made the mold, that created a brand that became myth. A myth they could not have originally intended, but one that had very effectively served Ted Kennedy's ugly career.

Ted Kennedy is dead now, as is John and Robert, but the power of the Kennedy myth lives on. That same myth nearly moved John's completely unqualified daughter into a Senate seat, purely on the strength of her name. That name is what made Ted Kennedy famous. It is what let him leave a drowning girl to die, change into an outfit and spend time chatting with his lawyers, while her corpse rotted in the lake. Any ordinary man after that would have spent a term in prison, followed by a quiet career of drinking and panhandling. His own death would not have been accompanied by a farewell tour. Any ordinary man, not a Kennedy.

Any Senator who repeatedly experienced bouts of public drunkenness, once nearly running over a policewoman, would have been out of office. But not a Kennedy. Any Senator who tried to collaborate with the KGB on influencing an American election, would have been condemned as a traitor. Never a Kennedy though. And that is the problem.

After nearly eight decades, Ted Kennedy has finally passed on, and while he missed dying before his time, his death is somehow being treated as tragic after all. Perishing in his late seventies, Ted Kennedy more than twice outlived Mary Jo Kopechne, who died in his car at only 29. Somehow that isn't fair. And all the fuss, the pomp and ceremony, and the tearful eulogies over his dead body.. cannot help but remind me of the girl he killed whose death was attended by no one. Now Ted Kennedy belongs to the ages, and Mary Jo Kopechne is a footnote in his life. His life, not hers.

When Cain slew Abel, G-d placed a mark upon him, the Mark of Cain, so that all would know him when they see him. Today we do not see the Mark of Cain anymore, or hear the cry of the murdered. We place our Cains in great coffins heaped with roses. We weep over them. We worship them. And even those who know better, bow our heads and let the funeral train pass. To hell with that. If you want to weep for someone, weep for a woman drowning inside a car, not for the man who lived to a ripe old age, and died surrounded by friends and family, with all the honor of the land at his feet. In our time, there is no shortage of those who weep for the Cains, whether they are Kennedy's or Al Queda's. Let us turn from the Mark of Cain and remember the Abels instead.

9 comments:

Keli Ata said...

Amen. I have no sympathy for the man either. He doesn't warrant sympathy at all.

YMedad said...

We once had a Kennedy in our living room, here in Shiloh a good few years ago, while she was just getting into politics. With a Jewish group taking a tour, normal then, of the Jewish communities so they could at least judge from experience (that doesn't happen today with AIPAC preventing contact amazingly). It was Katheleen Kennedy Townsend and it was probably in 1986 or just before when she ran for Congress in Maryland's second Congressional district, losing to Helen Delich Bentley 41% to 59%, thus becoming the first Kennedy to lose a general election. I think she went off Israel after that.

Always On Watch said...

Hear, hear!

I note in today's news that the coverage so far of Kennedy's funeral rites has been a flop in the TV ratings. Good.

The myth of the Kennedy family is completely disconnected from reality.

As one who has spent all my life here in the D.C. area, I full well remember the creation of the Camelot myth. In fact, we locals of all political persuasions had no respect for the Kennedy family. The way they "misbehaved" is well known by those old enough to know the tales.

My husband once had a run-in with Teddy's chauffer when that chauffer insisted that the senator's car be moved to the front of the line for vehicle maintenance. The disdain that chauffer showed toward all the workers at the garage! Well, his vehicle didn't get moved to the head of the line. The senator got picked up late from Capitol Hill. LOL.

No Apology said...

You're right SK. Ted Kennedy was a pig, and must atone for sacrificing Mary Jo to his own cowardice. And he will pay. The myth of the Kennedys is finally winding down, but it is the American conscience which must bear the guilt of being so blind to the Kennedy's avarice and ambition. And it is the American conscience which now must pay the price of allowing yet another Kennedy to vicariously reign as king. And finally, it is the American conscience which will depose the poseurs.

covertress said...

"If you want to weep for someone, weep for a woman drowning inside a car..."

When I heard that Kennedy had died, that's exactly what I did.

Keli Ata said...

Here in Buffalo the Kennedy funeral is getting precious little coverage.

Most everyone is watching the back-to-back funeral processions for Lt. Charles "Chip" McCarthy and fire fighter Jonathan Croom who died in a deli fire earlier this week trying to rescue a third person (no third person inside the deli but that doesn't matter. They thought there was).

Firefighters have come from all parts of the country to pay their respect. Kennedy's funeral? Maybe 5seconds of news coverage. I can't understand the national obsession over the death of yet another icon who in my mind was a drunk and responsible for a young woman's death.

Everyone knows the later is why he never ran for president but funerals and funeral processions have become entertainment for a lot of people.

Mr. Medad--it's sad that Israel is being used as a politicial prop. You know, wife/husband, kids, pet, pro-Israel. I don't know how many politicians that visit Israel are actually pro-Israel but they do it to appear pro-Israel to Jewish voters but also to show how religious they are.

I find that very sad.

Anonymous said...

You are right

Thank you for having the intelligence and courage to first see all of this and write it down

I hope that you have 12 children that are as able as you

the majority of humans do not want that much truth but the world needs people like you

TG said...

The myth of the Kennedy's may well be true, but in Ted Kennedy's case as senator he did indeed rally congress and the nation on some of the most important legislation to be considered. With health care being predominant. Which he championed for most of career. Working tirelessly. So how does that part of his life tarnish his legacy?

Sultan Knish said...

he championed the same agenda that numerous other liberal politicians did, and not out of the goodness of his heart, but because it's what his base wanted

it doesn't change his crimes one whit

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