Saturday, August 29, 2009

Ted Kennedy R.I.P.

All the major networks and cable news stations preempted their programming today to cover the Kennedy memorial. I shouldn't be surprised.

As I learn more about Ted Kennedy's earlier years, the more amazed I become at the double standard of elite opinion. We truly live in different moral universes.

The cheating and expulsion from Harvard, multiple instances of drunk driving, womanizing, and of course, Chappaquiddick:

Sometime late at night after an evening of drinking, Kennedy and Kopechne went for a drive in his 1967 Oldsmobile... they were heading toward the beach.

Kennedy got out of the car alive, Mary Jo Kopechne did not. He said he dived down several times to try and rescue her, before walking back to the cottage where his friends were staying. To do so, he passed at least four houses with working telephones, including one 150 yards from the accident with a porch light on – as well as a firehouse with a pay phone. When he got to the cottage, none of the women were told what happened. According to the 763-page coroner's inquest, this was just the first of a series of appalling decisions Kennedy made that night, decisions that stretch credulity.

Kennedy went to his room at a local inn – it was now 2:25 a.m., -- where he spent the night, and the following morning engaged in small talk about sailing with a local yachter and agreed to have breakfast with the man when Gargan and Markham showed up about 7:30... But he hadn't called the cops, either, and wouldn't until 9 a.m.

A few more details:

Mary Jo Kopechne died because, after recklessly causing an accident, Teddy Kennedy, in his nearly unfathomable self-absorption and political ambition, failed to do what almost anyone would have done to rescue her — namely, report the accident and call for emergency help. Instead, Kennedy thought only of himself and his political career.

The police first heard of the incident when a pair of fishermen, having seen the car in the water, went to one of the residences that Kennedy had passed the evening before to make sure that the authorities had been informed. The police sent a diver, who quickly recovered Miss Kopechne’s body. From its positioning in the car, it was clear that she had survived for some time before drowning or exhausting the available oxygen. It was surely a terrifying and perhaps an agonizing death. The diver later testified that, had Kennedy run to the nearest residence and called for emergency help, “there is a strong possibility that she would have been alive on removal from the submerged car.”

Whether or not he could have saved her, no one can seriously believe his behavior and concern was for anything other than his own personal and professional well-being.

The article continues:
Six weeks later, an inquest into Mary Jo Kopechne’s death was held. Kennedy’s lawyers asked the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court to make it a secret inquest, and the judges proved to be entirely compliant... The presiding judge was one who had already proven to be friendly from Kennedy’s point of view: James Boyle. Interestingly, Boyle found “probable cause” for believing that Kennedy was guilty of criminal negligence and even possibly manslaughter. Still, he did not issue a warrant for the senator’s arrest.

The district attorney, an ambitious Democrat named Edmund Dinis, almost certainly could have gotten a grand-jury indictment, but he, too, declined to pursue the matter. In fact, when a grand jury looked at the question, Dinis told the jurors that there was not sufficient evidence to warrant an indictment of the senator even on charges of reckless endangerment, much less manslaughter.

In the end, Kennedy’s punishment for his appalling acts and even more appalling omissions at Chappaquiddick was that the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles suspended his driver’s license for a few months.

Many more Americans self-describe themselves as conservative than liberal. Roughly half the country votes Republican. Yet, does anyone think that a Republican would have ever been able to retain their office, let alone "redeem" himself, after such an incident?

Would a conservative Republican or even a conservative Democrat, championing limit government, private property rights, strong defense, personal responsibility, free markets, and self-reliance, ever be granted redemption by the media and elite opinion? Of course not.

No doubt, he was personally likable, and the patina of old money and family glamor played a big part. But, Kennedy's redemption came from becoming the most visible partisan in the U.S. Senate for liberal causes. Nothing else could accomplish that feat.

Ted Kennedy inherited his wealth then spent his life on the public payroll as a relentless advocate for higher taxes on the incomes of working people so he could have more power to do good as he saw it. That is how he sought redemption. That is how he got it.


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