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."
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.
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.