I really wasn't going to go here since everyone else on the internet is already writing about the passing of Ted Kennedy, but I changed my mind and will write a few words simply because everyone else is doing it. Like the death of Michael Jackson, this is becoming an event that is part circus and part train-wreck, and no one can look away no matter how badly they want to.
First of all, I do want to extend my sincerest sympathy to the Kennedy family and close friends. a death is still a death, and it's hard for those left behind.
That said however, I never had any reason to agree with Edward Kennedy politically. Be it military spending, government spending in general, the nuclear freeze, tax cuts, immigration, or almost any other issue important to me and most Americans who understand what this country is supposed to be about, was always on the wrong side of the issue. He tirelessly championed on behalf of illegal aliens, welfare recipients and union fatcats, but only when he could give them things that the rest of us would have to pay for. In fact, Ted Kennedy will never be remembered for his personal charitable giving; he only gave freely when it was our money in his hand. In fact, anything that the people wanted was irrelevant if it came at a cost to him. Take, for example, the time that his neighbours and constituents fought to get a wind farm built off-shore in Nantucket Sound to break the area’s dependence on coal-fired power plants. The project ultimately succeeded but it did so not with the help of Ted Kennedy but in spite of his opposition. He and the rest of the Kennedy clan fought it and worked hard to scuttle it despite overwhelming public demand because it would have been built in an area where the Kennedy family liked to go sailing and yachting. Talk about bourgeois.
Politically, he was the anti-Reagan. He fought to put government in charge of everything and worked to eliminate concepts like self-reliance, personal responsibility, and any stigma associated with being a worthless welfare recipient.
Beyond that, I also cannot forget that it was he who destroyed the integrity that used to surround judicial appointments to the Supreme Court and other federal courts by politicizing the hearings and attacking Judge Bork personally in an effort to keep that highly-qualified jurist off of the Court for purely partisan reasons. That outrageous conduct by Kennedy changed the very nature of the nominating process and it's become the norm today. Supreme Court nominations have never been the same since, and we now get second-tier justices like Sotomayor as a result. Thanks, Senator Kennedy. He was also slanderously vicious towards other fine Americans, notably President Reagan, Ed Meese, and Lt. Col. Oliver North. Kennedy, when he had a microphone in front of him and a political target in sight, was seldom nice or kind.
And politics aside, I can't help but remember him as a guy who had no personal sense of ethics.
--He got caught cheating at Harvard, and was subsequently expelled.
--He ran away from a drowning girl and left her to die in his car while he hid for ten hours without even calling 911 because saving his political career mattered more.
--He staggered drunkenly around a Palm Beach estate with his pants around his ankles and now-Rep. Patrick Kennedy in tow as his nephew William raped a woman there.
I'm sorry, but the guy was not Mother Teresa, nor was he Ghandi. He was just a man, and deep down, not a very good one. And had his last name been “Smith” or “Jones” or anything besides “Kennedy”, odds are good that his public career would have ended in a jail sentence long ago. I can’t lie and say that I’ll miss him because I think that he did a lot more harm than good. 47 years was way too long for him to run amuck in the Senate the way that he did. It's also notable that in all that time, his colleagues never saw fit to nominate him to any substantial leadership post. Kind of tells us what those who knew him best really thought of him, doesn't it?
If there’s any justice in the next world, when Ted Kennedy gets to the pearly gates, he’ll find that St. Peter has gone to lunch and Mary Jo Kopechne is filling in for him.