Goodbye, Teddy
August 25, 2009 10:40 PM   Subscribe

Edward M. Kennedy, Senator from Massachusetts, has died at age 77. After a rocky youth (including scandals of cheating and reckless driving), Kennedy followed his brothers into politics, making health care his cause, and eventually went on to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Anticipating his own death, he had been trying to create a quick transition for his replacement as a vote on health care reform rapidly approached.
posted by ocherdraco (659 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
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posted by Saydur at 10:41 PM on August 25, 2009


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posted by iamkimiam at 10:42 PM on August 25, 2009


came here to post:

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posted by jba at 10:43 PM on August 25, 2009


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posted by Korou at 10:43 PM on August 25, 2009


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What a big loss for America.
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posted by flapjax at midnite at 10:44 PM on August 25, 2009


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posted by Rumple at 10:44 PM on August 25, 2009


Thank you, Senator.

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posted by swerve at 10:44 PM on August 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


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posted by Guy Smiley at 10:44 PM on August 25, 2009


There is but one fitting memorial for this great man.

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posted by Lemurrhea at 10:44 PM on August 25, 2009 [2 favorites]


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posted by bz at 10:46 PM on August 25, 2009


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posted by Auden at 10:46 PM on August 25, 2009


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posted by hifiparasol at 10:47 PM on August 25, 2009


Statement from the Kennedy family.
posted by ocherdraco at 10:47 PM on August 25, 2009 [2 favorites]


Oh my. This has been the summer of death, hasn't it?
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posted by jokeefe at 10:47 PM on August 25, 2009


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posted by mrzarquon at 10:47 PM on August 25, 2009


A great man and a true patriot. May we carry on in his name.

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posted by EatTheWeak at 10:47 PM on August 25, 2009 [2 favorites]


The rarest of breeds - a truly great and skilled legislator.

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posted by lalex at 10:47 PM on August 25, 2009


Horrible, not just for his family but his own dream of better health care in general. The tragic irony here is that Kennedy's death deprives a crucial supportive vote for the Obama health care agenda, and because of a changed law in 2004 (again, ironically to attempt to stave Republican gains) Kennedy's seat now has to wait for a special election to be filled instead of an appointment by the governor.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 10:48 PM on August 25, 2009 [15 favorites]


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posted by quazichimp at 10:48 PM on August 25, 2009


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posted by hippybear at 10:48 PM on August 25, 2009


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Also you can expect to see the Nü-GOP show it's true colors over the next few days.
Brace for that.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 10:48 PM on August 25, 2009 [7 favorites]


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posted by doctor_negative at 10:48 PM on August 25, 2009


New York Times obituary.
posted by ocherdraco at 10:49 PM on August 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


And a million thanks for putting together a substantive obit post.
posted by lalex at 10:49 PM on August 25, 2009


"Edward Kennedy", for the 2009 Time 100, by Arnold Schwarzenegger
posted by Guy Smiley at 10:49 PM on August 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


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posted by crossoverman at 10:49 PM on August 25, 2009


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posted by mikedouglas at 10:49 PM on August 25, 2009


I want the health care bill passed by reconciliation RIGHT FUCKING NOW and I want it called Edward Moore Kennedy Comprehensive Health Care. Fuck this bi-partisan BULLSHIT; it's never going to happen. Put single-payer back in the bill and RAM IT UP CONGRESS'S ASS.

I may be a little emotionally overwhelmed.

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posted by tzikeh at 10:50 PM on August 25, 2009 [211 favorites]


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posted by librarina at 10:50 PM on August 25, 2009


Though all the accolades go to Johnny and Bobby, Teddy's service has had a greater impact on our country.

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posted by chrchr at 10:51 PM on August 25, 2009 [15 favorites]


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posted by saturnine at 10:52 PM on August 25, 2009


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posted by setanor at 10:52 PM on August 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


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posted by lupus_yonderboy at 10:55 PM on August 25, 2009


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posted by wolfewarrior at 10:56 PM on August 25, 2009


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posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 10:56 PM on August 25, 2009


A brave, hardworking, intelligent, kind, flawed and great man.

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posted by Avenger at 10:57 PM on August 25, 2009 [3 favorites]


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posted by fairytale of los angeles at 10:57 PM on August 25, 2009


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posted by Brainy at 10:58 PM on August 25, 2009


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posted by Glibpaxman at 10:59 PM on August 25, 2009


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posted by Tennison Tarb at 11:00 PM on August 25, 2009


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posted by punchdrunkhistory at 11:00 PM on August 25, 2009


An interactive timeline of Kennedy's life and career.
posted by ocherdraco at 11:01 PM on August 25, 2009


In calmer news:

From the GQ profile:
Even a partial listing of the major bills in whose passage Kennedy has played a part is impressive. Whether you admire them or not, these are the measures that transformed—mostly liberalized—America in our time: the first Immigration Reform Act; the Voting Rights Act and its extensions; the Freedom of Information Act; the Gun Control Act; the Campaign Financing Reform law; the Comprehensive Selective Service Reform Act; the Eighteen-Year-Old Vote law; the Occupational Safety and Health Act; the War on Cancer bills; the recodification of federal criminal laws; the Bilingual Education Act; the Fair Housing Acts; the Age Discrimination Act; the Airline and Trucking Deregulation bills; the Job Training Partnership Act; the South African sanctions; and the Grove City Civil Rights Restoration Act.

Far more than either of his brothers, who were lackluster senators, Kennedy, over the past three decades, has been responsible for changes in the complexion of this country and in the lives of its citizens. He has been an ally of blacks, American Indians, the poor, the sick, the aged, the mentally ill, starving refugees worldwide and immigrants. He has been an outspoken liberal, unafraid to take the controversial positions—on issues such as busing, abortion, gun control, the Vietnam War (late but forcefully), the nuclear freeze and capital punishment—that other senators clearly avoided. (via)
There aren't enough "."'s in the world.
posted by tzikeh at 11:01 PM on August 25, 2009 [58 favorites]


Oh God, poor bastard. How terrible that he couldn't live to see our health care system fixed, and that he had to see the current attempt at reform being slowly whittled away by politics during his last days.

He'd been my Senator for years now, a flawed man, of course, but one who fought hard and long for so many of the causes I value. Wish I could give more than this:

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posted by ubersturm at 11:02 PM on August 25, 2009


A video retrospective, also from the New York Times
posted by ocherdraco at 11:02 PM on August 25, 2009


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posted by Sys Rq at 11:02 PM on August 25, 2009


A Ken Burns-produced tribute video, shown at the 2008 Democratic convention before Kennedy gave a surprise speech.
posted by lalex at 11:03 PM on August 25, 2009


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Fuck. I'm so sorry he didn't live to see healthcare reformed. Condolences to his family.

(Brain cancer. Awful.)
posted by Space Kitty at 11:03 PM on August 25, 2009


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posted by /\/\/\/ at 11:03 PM on August 25, 2009


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posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 11:04 PM on August 25, 2009


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posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:05 PM on August 25, 2009


Boston Globe obituary.
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posted by PostIronyIsNotaMyth at 11:07 PM on August 25, 2009


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posted by tittergrrl at 11:07 PM on August 25, 2009


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posted by sleepinglion at 11:07 PM on August 25, 2009


God damn.

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posted by scody at 11:08 PM on August 25, 2009


z"l
posted by kosem at 11:09 PM on August 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


So quickly. May, June July and August...

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posted by Skygazer at 11:10 PM on August 25, 2009


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posted by Esteemed Offendi at 11:10 PM on August 25, 2009


A real loss for America. There seemed to be some hope initially, but with the recent appeal to change the appointment process, things didn't look good at all.

I am definitely grateful for the impact his work has had on our country. Hopefully his death may spur Congress to remove its collective head from its ass and speed passage of a healthcare reform bill.
posted by cmgonzalez at 11:10 PM on August 25, 2009


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posted by paulus andronicus at 11:12 PM on August 25, 2009


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posted by grouse at 11:12 PM on August 25, 2009


Physicians for Human Rights tribute to Kennedy.
posted by ocherdraco at 11:12 PM on August 25, 2009


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posted by klanawa at 11:12 PM on August 25, 2009


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posted by Schlimmbesserung at 11:12 PM on August 25, 2009


I absolutely do not want to have another healthcare argument in this thread, but I just wanted to quickly address the "whittling away" ubersturm mentioned.

This is a tragic loss. An American Hero has crossed into Valhalla. And it is my sincere wish that, in the wake of this tragedy, the Democrats find the courage to grant Ted Kennedy's last wish and bring true healthcare reform to this nation, with or without the obstructionists trying to stand in the way. I hate that we've lost him, but perhaps now we can lose that horrid political whittling as well and make history instead.
posted by EatTheWeak at 11:12 PM on August 25, 2009 [13 favorites]


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posted by applemeat at 11:13 PM on August 25, 2009


A fine man.


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posted by dancestoblue at 11:13 PM on August 25, 2009


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posted by Shotgun Shakespeare at 11:14 PM on August 25, 2009


He was the first person I voted for. Love that man.

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posted by ohyouknow at 11:14 PM on August 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


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posted by treepour at 11:14 PM on August 25, 2009


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posted by wierdo at 11:15 PM on August 25, 2009


Boston Herald obituary.
posted by ocherdraco at 11:15 PM on August 25, 2009


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posted by lilkeith07 at 11:16 PM on August 25, 2009


Wall Street Journal obituary (with links to pdfs of archive articles about Kennedy from 1962-1978).
posted by ocherdraco at 11:17 PM on August 25, 2009


I used to live in Massachusetts. In 1994, a lot of people thought he was going to finally lose his Senate seat. It was the year the Republicans got both houses of Congress, the "Contract With America" and the end of an era of Democratic dominance of the House. Kennedy's career was at a nadir; he was down in the polls, plagued by the shadows of scandals, running out of campaign money, and facing a young, telegenic Mitt Romney, who was flush with cash.

During a key debate, Romney accused Kennedy of profiting from his career. He replied, "Mr. Romney, the Kennedys are not in public service to make money. We have paid too high a price."

Kennedy won the election easily.

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posted by kyrademon at 11:17 PM on August 25, 2009 [100 favorites]


I have the Pogues's Sally Maclennane playing right now.

RIP, Senator.
posted by ooga_booga at 11:18 PM on August 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


Oops.

( He actually was diagnosed with the brain tumor May of 2008. Thought he might pull through. I hope they pass health reform in his honor.)

RIP
posted by Skygazer at 11:18 PM on August 25, 2009


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posted by cazoo at 11:21 PM on August 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


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posted by oddman at 11:21 PM on August 25, 2009


"The Ascent of Ted Kennedy," Time, Friday, Jan. 10, 1969.
posted by ocherdraco at 11:23 PM on August 25, 2009


He was often referred to as Teddy. That nick isn't merely bestowed; it's got to be earned. ("Ted" is saved for the likes of the Bundys and Kaczynskis out there.) Every Teddy I know has the heart and passion of a warrior, a gentle and loving soul. Kennedy was no exception; he always put himself out there to follow through on his convictions.

The Democrats let him down. As was stated above, let's get some fuckin health care reform passed in his memory.

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posted by Christ, what an asshole at 11:23 PM on August 25, 2009 [7 favorites]


Politico obituary.
posted by ocherdraco at 11:25 PM on August 25, 2009


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posted by ktrey at 11:28 PM on August 25, 2009


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posted by fishmasta at 11:29 PM on August 25, 2009


"The Dream Shall Never Die": Kennedy's speech at the 1980 Democratic National Convention.
And may it be said of us, both in dark passages and in bright days, in the words of Tennyson that my brothers quoted and loved, and that have special meaning for me now:
"I am a part of all that I have met
To [Tho] much is taken, much abides
That which we are, we are --
One equal temper of heroic hearts
Strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield."
For me, a few hours ago, this campaign came to an end.

For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die.
posted by ocherdraco at 11:29 PM on August 25, 2009 [10 favorites]


From the WSJ obit:

Sen. Orrin Hatch, a deeply conservative Utah Republican who became especially close to Mr. Kennedy, has long kept a painting by the senator in his office bearing the inscription, "We'll leave the light at the [Kennedy] compound on for you anytime."
posted by lalex at 11:29 PM on August 25, 2009


Oh God, poor bastard. How terrible that he couldn't live to see our health care system fixed, and that he had to see the current attempt at reform being slowly whittled away by politics during his last days.

It reminds me of Hunter S. Thompson passing during a time in which the strengths of America that he valued most were being chopped down.

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posted by ignignokt at 11:31 PM on August 25, 2009 [2 favorites]


Aww. I had mixed feelings about him for most of his life—a lot of the hagiography now ignores how hidebound an establishment Democrat he could be, and his candidacy definitely was a large factor in Carter's reelection loss—but he was a great force for progressive legislation.

Kennedy was no Curley, but I can't help thinking of Skeffington in his bed, and the great state funeral that followed. I can't seem to find my copy of the Last Hurrah; if I could, I'd post some excerpt.

Sad to see such a towering politician go.
posted by klangklangston at 11:31 PM on August 25, 2009 [3 favorites]


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posted by gsteff at 11:31 PM on August 25, 2009


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posted by Shesthefastest at 11:32 PM on August 25, 2009


New York Times photo slideshow.
posted by ocherdraco at 11:35 PM on August 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


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posted by jaimev at 11:39 PM on August 25, 2009


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posted by fatllama at 11:42 PM on August 25, 2009


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posted by The Potate at 11:42 PM on August 25, 2009


Please, please, let his tireless work toward health care reform not die with him. Let his death be the emotional impetus needed to get health care reform passed NOW so he can rest in peace.
posted by amyms at 11:43 PM on August 25, 2009 [4 favorites]


I want the health care bill passed by reconciliation RIGHT FUCKING NOW and I want it called Edward Moore Kennedy Comprehensive Health Care. Fuck this bi-partisan BULLSHIT; it's never going to happen. Put single-payer back in the bill and RAM IT UP CONGRESS'S ASS.

Uh, you realize we only have 59 votes now, right?

(Presumably either the MA Legislature will either have to pass the new succession law after his death or we'll have to wait 5 months for MA to have a new election. Also, in theory a bill could be passed with 50 votes, if the democrats are willing to do it via reconciliation)
posted by delmoi at 11:46 PM on August 25, 2009


Please, please, let his tireless work toward health care reform not die with him. Let his death be the emotional impetus needed to get health care reform passed NOW so he can rest in peace.

LBJ, well I don't want to say "used" but LBJ used the memory of JFK to help pass the Civil Rights act.
posted by delmoi at 11:49 PM on August 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


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posted by SassHat at 11:50 PM on August 25, 2009


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posted by Mblue at 11:52 PM on August 25, 2009


This really sucks...

There aren't enough "."s.
posted by schyler523 at 11:54 PM on August 25, 2009


Kennedy's militant opposition to adequately funding the Thieu regime's military apparatus in 1974-75 may possibly be considered a major policy mistake in retrospect (or not, depending on whether you think the GVN could have been salvagable someday), plus of course NCLB still sticks in my craw, but other than that he did an OK job I guess.

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posted by @troy at 11:54 PM on August 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


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posted by obol at 11:54 PM on August 25, 2009


delmoi: Uh, you realize we only have 59 votes now, right?... Also, in theory a bill could be passed with 50 votes, if the democrats are willing to do it via reconciliation

:nod: That's why I said by reconciliation. More and more Dems are saying that yes, they are ready to go that route.
posted by tzikeh at 11:55 PM on August 25, 2009


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posted by Diagonalize at 11:56 PM on August 25, 2009


Speaking as a Canadian with friends and family to the south, it is my sincerest hope that this unhappy hour catalyzes a renewed zeal among his colleagues to pass meaningful heath care reform.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 11:56 PM on August 25, 2009 [4 favorites]


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posted by tyrantkitty at 11:57 PM on August 25, 2009


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posted by effugas at 11:58 PM on August 25, 2009


The U.S. lost a giant today. I know that he did some bad things in his time, but who among us hasn't? And who, in the world of American federal politics, has worked harder to help the little guy? Who in the Senate has worked harder to bring about a sense of change and social justice (...at least since Wellstone died, at least). RIP, Senator Kennedy... may your colleagues bravely take the reigns and continue your work.

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posted by honeybee413 at 12:00 AM on August 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


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posted by paperpete at 12:05 AM on August 26, 2009


I always feel the compulsive need to check the id of the conservative movement by reading free republic at times like these and I was a bit surprised that their first impulse wasn't to bring up Chappaquiddick, but to imply that Obama had him killed. Those folks have one track minds, they do.
posted by empath at 12:05 AM on August 26, 2009 [8 favorites]


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posted by juv3nal at 12:14 AM on August 26, 2009


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posted by armage at 12:16 AM on August 26, 2009


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posted by Megami at 12:17 AM on August 26, 2009


If there is anyone whose legacy could get a comprehensive health care bill passed in the Senate, it's Ted Kennedy - 3rd longest serving senator ever and (according to a 2009 survey of sitting senators) Most Bipartisan Democratic Senator.

(this, and $15,000 will get you a cup of coffee and an emergency room visit for a broken arm)
posted by Guy Smiley at 12:17 AM on August 26, 2009 [5 favorites]


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posted by greekphilosophy at 12:18 AM on August 26, 2009


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One of the reasons I was proud to be from Massachusetts.
posted by Hactar at 12:19 AM on August 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


When I was sixteen in 1996 I was a conservative Republican of the worst sort. I had the opportunity to spend a summer in Washington, where I traipsed through the halls of Congress in stocking feet and sought autographs from Strom Thurmond and Trent Lott.

One day, as one of my friends did his drunk Ted Kennedy impression for the millionth time, The Man Himself walked right past us. I was so flustered that I ran onto the next available tram and collided with the senator -- my head to his chest. He smiled at me. I looked up, noted that I was on a tram for senators only, and then ran right back out. Mortified.

A few years later, I had read some Robert Reich and Gloria Steinem, turned liberal, and of course grown to regret keeping company with teenage boys who thought it was okay to mock a man who served his country as passionately and intelligently as Senator Kennedy did. Over the years I learned to respect Edward Kennedy for his service, to admire him for his courage, and to love him for his way of speaking the truth.

I always wanted to write him a letter. Apologizing, I suppose. But also thanking him. After he was diagnosed with cancer, I thought a lot about writing that letter, but I never did. It was too hard to think that this man who championed so many vital causes, who had educated himself and others so well, could ever die.

It's still too hard.
posted by brina at 12:22 AM on August 26, 2009 [26 favorites]


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posted by mikw at 12:24 AM on August 26, 2009


A great man who served his country honorably. Our collective loss.

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posted by maxwelton at 12:28 AM on August 26, 2009


He was a class act.

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posted by zardoz at 12:30 AM on August 26, 2009


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posted by tastydonuts at 12:30 AM on August 26, 2009


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posted by fingers_of_fire at 12:31 AM on August 26, 2009


Ted Kennedy was one of my Senators, when I lived in Massachusetts, and Tip O'Neill was my Congressman. I always thought Tip was, by far, the better politician, and by Boston standards, he was. I met them both a number of times, and while Tip always shook your hand, and paused, looking straight at you, as if he had all day to hear your story, Ted, if he shook your hand at all, did so coldly, while looking past you, to the next voter, or any face he could find, more recognizable to him than yours.

If you went to Washington, to Tip's office, with a constituent request, someone had you sign the visitor's book (and you could flip through it, and see everybody from the Mayor of Boston's signature, to Joe Blow from Southie!), and then someone offered you a chair and listened to your problem, and, if applicable, got on the phone, right there, while you watched, and made some contacts for you at the relevant Federal Departments, and then marked up a map of Washington, showing you where you might need to go. And then they gave you a card, and asked you to call back before you left Washington, if anybody gave you problems. You could expect to hear from Tip back home, too, with invitations to his appearances, and you'd be contacted, for years, with opportunities to help fund Tip's re-election campaigns, and projects. All personal, and all "retail" politics, on the Tip O'Neill mold. You felt good about helping, if you could, and if you couldn't, you felt good about being asked to help. That was Tip's way.

If you went to Teddy's office with a constituent request, and didn't lay down a Bank of New England business card, or a letter of reference from some Beacon Hill Brahman, well, good luck. You'd hear about how busy the Senator was, and accordingly, how busy his staff was, and if you weren't a complete cretin, you'd soon realize what a pitiful interruption you were in a powerful man's staff's day. Massachusetts returned him to the Senate, again and again, on the strength of, first, of his family name, and later, on pure seniority and patronage. And he did deliver billions of dollars for the Big Dig, and for various earmark projects, as recently as this spring.

But, at best, he was a wholesale politician, in times when his party was mostly out of favor, whereas Tip, the ultimate retail politician, who never criticized a fellow Democrat, wouldn't light up any brand of cigars he heard Teddy liked. I'm sincerely sorry for his family's loss. But, beyond that, he doesn't get my MeFi dot. Call it cheap payback, for being embarrassed in front of my kids, for presuming to stand, without express invitation, or letters of reference, on his Washington Senate office carpet.
posted by paulsc at 12:31 AM on August 26, 2009 [10 favorites]


Paulsc, I think you've got the first and second person confused.

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posted by GeckoDundee at 12:34 AM on August 26, 2009 [3 favorites]


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posted by SLC Mom at 12:34 AM on August 26, 2009


Yes, I like Paulsc's review, although I warn everyone against wanting to have an elected US official be their warm fuzzy eye-contact greeter. I much prefer that these creatures just be smart logistical people able to effect critical and corrective measures. Forget about making me feel good.

Wow. The words in the posting said scandal over ... what??? drunken driving???? It was about the schlemiel's having driven her into the brink and then run off. A testament to bathetic poverty of spirit.

Happy resting.
posted by yazi at 12:37 AM on August 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


"Paulsc, I think you've got the first and second person confused. "
posted by GeckoDundee at 3:34 AM on August 26

I can see where you'd get that, from the way I related my personal experience, above. But if I add that my experience was mirrored by others, during the development of the Lowell National Historical Park, or at the time Paul Tsongas was leaving office to fight cancer, and Kennedy's people were professional jerks, would that clear up your confusion?

I've heard enough stories similar to mine, to feel entitled to the editorial "you," where Teddy is concerned.
posted by paulsc at 12:45 AM on August 26, 2009


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posted by slackdog at 12:46 AM on August 26, 2009


When the lion is dead, the jackals become brave enough to howl.
posted by happyroach at 12:57 AM on August 26, 2009 [42 favorites]


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posted by dopeypanda at 12:57 AM on August 26, 2009


> I've heard enough stories similar to mine, to feel entitled to the editorial "you," where Teddy is concerned.

I think many people and events-- particularly those of renown and consequence-- are best appreciated at a distance.

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posted by darth_tedious at 12:58 AM on August 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


Let the jackals howl. It's easier for the rest of us humans to know what we're up against.

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posted by markkraft at 1:07 AM on August 26, 2009 [6 favorites]


Good riddance
posted by shoos at 1:12 AM on August 26, 2009


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Let's hope the Democrat Party can pull together to honor his memory with some proper healthcare legislation.
posted by vhsiv at 1:14 AM on August 26, 2009


If you were 18 when you first voted against Teddy Kennedy, thank Teddy Kennedy.
posted by Doublewhiskeycokenoice at 1:14 AM on August 26, 2009 [28 favorites]


"Yes, I like Paulsc's review, although I warn everyone against wanting to have an elected US official be their warm fuzzy eye-contact greeter. I much prefer that these creatures just be smart logistical people able to effect critical and corrective measures. Forget about making me feel good. ..."
posted by yazi at 3:37 AM on August 26

Yes, I understand, and kind of agree with your point. I've been around enough, not to be star struck easily.

But a point I wanted to make in my original comment was that Teddy surrounded himself, too often with political opportunists, and professional staffers. His office, no doubt, ran smoothly, at all times. They covered for him, professionally, whenever called upon. They managed news, before "news manager" was really a recognized political staff position.

But none of his constituent's concerns could ever matter to him, the way they did to Tip. Kennedy never wanted for anything, enough to recognize want in others. His approach to issues was generally noblesse oblige, and rarely, the empathy of a simple heart. He didn't try to raise money for his campaigns too much in Fall River's mill district, or New Bedford's taverns. If he made appearances in Cape Ann towns, it was at lobster dinners in Essex, not at Gloucester High School commencements.

You get a sense of a public man, and a politician, living in his voting district, and going into the voting booth where his name is a choice, that is worth clear recall, when his obituary is about to be published.

I'm not heading up to New England to pee on his grave, but he doesn't get my dot, either.
posted by paulsc at 1:18 AM on August 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


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posted by StrangeTikiGod at 1:18 AM on August 26, 2009


And conservatives across the nation mourned the loss of "BUT BUT BUT CHAPPAQUIDDICK" as a surefire rebuttal to all liberal communist points.

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posted by Pope Guilty at 1:20 AM on August 26, 2009 [7 favorites]


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posted by LMGM at 1:47 AM on August 26, 2009


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posted by chuq at 2:03 AM on August 26, 2009


But none of his constituent's concerns could ever matter to him, the way they did to Tip.

Well, constitutionally it can be argued that Senators are more bigger picture than dealing with Joe Blows wandering in off the street. They were chosen by State Legislatures originally, of course. This is particularly the case for big states like California, where we have two senators for the lot of us.

Not that we need 100 little regents on Capitol Hill, of course.
posted by @troy at 2:04 AM on August 26, 2009


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posted by evil_esto at 2:04 AM on August 26, 2009


Crap. Tonight I will be having dinner with my mom after work. I was raised in a house with a picture of Bobby Kennedy on the wall, with parents that voted for Humphrey, McGovern, and Carter -- but, inexplicably, my mom turned conservative suddenly and went to the other side in 1980. Has been there ever since. I did not and never will follow her there. And one way to make our conversations truly, terribly uncomfortable, is to bring up Ted Kennedy. She calls him a murderer and says how much she "hates that man."

So now she will probably bring him up in conversation, and I don't think I'll be able to take it.

Rest in peace, Teddy. You may have made some mistakes, but you served your country well.

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posted by litlnemo at 2:17 AM on August 26, 2009


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posted by Doktor Zed at 2:17 AM on August 26, 2009


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posted by Duke999R at 2:24 AM on August 26, 2009


What a pimp.
posted by L0 at 2:39 AM on August 26, 2009


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posted by edmcbride at 2:41 AM on August 26, 2009


There are some good remembrances from the thread back when we learned of the cancer. Mine.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 3:00 AM on August 26, 2009


The Joran Van Der Sloot of the Senate.
posted by b_thinky at 3:05 AM on August 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


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posted by sciencegeek at 3:42 AM on August 26, 2009


I want the health care bill passed by reconciliation RIGHT FUCKING NOW and I want it called Edward Moore Kennedy Comprehensive Health Care.

A clarion call to spend money we don't have. You couldn't have possibly come up with a better memorial for a US Senator.
posted by Malor at 3:43 AM on August 26, 2009 [6 favorites]


. (for Mary Jo Kopechne)
posted by the cuban at 3:44 AM on August 26, 2009 [9 favorites]


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posted by paddbear at 3:48 AM on August 26, 2009


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posted by X-Himy at 3:48 AM on August 26, 2009


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posted by WPW at 3:50 AM on August 26, 2009


"Well, constitutionally it can be argued that Senators are more bigger picture than dealing with Joe Blows wandering in off the street. They were chosen by State Legislatures originally, of course. This is particularly the case for big states like California, where we have two senators for the lot of us. ..."
posted by @troy at 5:04 AM on August 26

I suppose.

But in the mid-80s, when I needed some Congressional help, Ted was a publicly recognized drunk with a well paid staff, still trying to get past his divorce from Joan, and Tip was Speaker of the House. Tip could lift legislation to action, or not, when Ted couldn't even lift a glass.

And yet, Tip's staff were never "bothered" when a constituent walked in his office door. They smiled, and recognized the opportunity for what it was: top shelf retail politics. If Tip happened to be in the office, his inner door was often open, and you could expect at least a wave from him, but you never even knew if Ted was in his office, or not.

The message was clear: Tip needed you, Ted didn't. Good luck with St. Peter, Ted.
posted by paulsc at 3:51 AM on August 26, 2009


From the Boston Globe obit : Despite his illness, Senator Kennedy made a forceful appearance at the Democratic convention in Denver, exhorting his party to victory and declaring that the fight for universal health insurance had been “the cause of my life.’’

He pursued that cause vigorously, even as his health declined; when members of Obama’s administration questioned the president’s decision to spend so much political capital on the seemingly intractable issue, Obama reportedly replied, “I promised Teddy.’’


Let's keep that promise.

Sweet dreams, Teddy.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 3:52 AM on August 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


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posted by octothorpe at 3:57 AM on August 26, 2009


Man, used car salesmen must dance a merry jig when they see paulsc coming.

Hint: frantic gladhanding is not the key attribute one looks for in a policymaker. At least not if one hopes for decent policies. I think the legacies of O'Neill and Kennedy will stand testament to that fact.

Now, if you're through lamenting the fact that the man never hugged you, can you please stop beating your dead horse and go grouse somewhere else?

I'm sorry to see Ted Kennedy go. He was well-regarded, even up here in the frozen north.
posted by Shepherd at 3:58 AM on August 26, 2009 [18 favorites]


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posted by Admiral Haddock at 4:00 AM on August 26, 2009


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posted by Samuel Farrow at 4:03 AM on August 26, 2009


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posted by HuronBob at 4:03 AM on August 26, 2009


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posted by lapolla at 4:07 AM on August 26, 2009


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posted by lordrunningclam at 4:11 AM on August 26, 2009


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posted by Thorzdad at 4:11 AM on August 26, 2009


Even if he had done nothing else, his mysterious ability to bring the GOP to an apoplectic fit is worth:

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posted by Amanojaku at 4:12 AM on August 26, 2009 [7 favorites]


"... Now, if you're through lamenting the fact that the man never hugged you, can you please stop beating your dead horse and go grouse somewhere else? ..."

Actually, Tip never hugged me, either. In fact, Tip told me twice, to my face, that he thought I was wrong, and that he wouldn't help with legislation I thought was worthwhile. Fair enough, he had his views, and they weren't mine, and he wasn't persuaded by the arguments I voiced, or that people I supported brought to him. But, he listened. And he insisted that his staff do the same.

That behavior deserved my vote in every general election I voted in, where Tip stood.

Ted? Eh, not so much. Maybe he tried a lot harder after I moved out of his state. I hope so, because it's hard to imagine him trying less than when I was there.

I'm sorry to see Ted Kennedy go. He was well-regarded, even up here in the frozen north.
posted by Shepherd at 6:58 AM on August 26

As I said, I'm sincerely sorry for his family. But I think his political legacy is far from a slam dunk.
posted by paulsc at 4:12 AM on August 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


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posted by dirtdirt at 4:13 AM on August 26, 2009


How sad for his family. Not sure he could have done much to stop Rahm Emmanuel and Obama from selling out true healthcare reform, though. That train's pretty much left the station.

I am intrigued by the bit in the NYT timeline from August 1996 that says Kennedy helped pass landmark legislation that "protects workers from losing health insurance when they change jobs or from being denied coverage from pre-existing conditions." Clicked the article from that day and found this:

The new law, which passed the Senate unanimously and drew only two dissenting votes in the House, allows workers to maintain health insurance coverage if they change or lose their jobs. It effectively bars insurance companies from denying coverage to people who have pre-existing medical conditions.

Really? We had that law? What happened?
posted by mediareport at 4:14 AM on August 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's interesting that you bring up Sen. Kennedy's support of the Big Dig as a negative, when its major tunnel is named in honor of Tip O'Neill.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:14 AM on August 26, 2009


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posted by majikstreet at 4:25 AM on August 26, 2009


I met him briefly during the 1980 primaries when he was trying to take the nomination from Carter (first politian's hand I ever shook).

Text from the 1980 Kennedy campaign lit.

He gave a stirring speech at the convention text, MP3 youtube.

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posted by readery at 4:27 AM on August 26, 2009


While Senators and Congresspersons both are supposed to represent us, a good Senator should not have time to just greet and glad-handle someone who shows up. Should we go up one notch and expect the President to also "always have time" for a constituent who stops by?

Teddy Kennedy, his whole family, really, was characterized by the fact that they never wanted for anything, and despite that, gave their lives to public service. They are a prime example of noblesse oblige, the notion that they were fortunate to be born into such circumstances, and that they had an obligation to care for the rest. Never was a Kennedy a rich man looking out for rich men, but a rich man who used his power and education to work for each and every one of us, and Teddy Kennedy was matched only perhaps by the late Eunice Kennedy.

And heck, not all of us are people-persons. If a public servant does the sort of job that Teddy Kennedy did, I can easily forgive such a person for valuing time alone, quiet, and silence. Some people are always "on," but many, it comes less easily, and distractions can be quite unwelcome. Given the gravity of his job, and the amount of good he did our country, I think he can be forgiven for not having the time to greet an unexpected visitor and his children, constituent or not.
posted by explosion at 4:27 AM on August 26, 2009 [13 favorites]


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posted by donfactor at 4:27 AM on August 26, 2009


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posted by Remy at 4:27 AM on August 26, 2009


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posted by hydropsyche at 4:28 AM on August 26, 2009


no dots from me, but a new ellipsis instead:

...

(for all the things I will try to do in my own sphere to make other folks lives easier the way Senator Kennedy did.)

We all have the opportunity now to take up his efforts as well.
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 4:28 AM on August 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


I am, er, uh, sorry, um, er, uh, to hear that.

Here's one "." for Ted and one "." for the country.
posted by Pollomacho at 4:29 AM on August 26, 2009


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posted by RussHy at 4:29 AM on August 26, 2009


"It's interesting that you bring up Sen. Kennedy's support of the Big Dig as a negative, when its major tunnel is named in honor of Tip O'Neill.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:14 AM on August 26

Huh? What I posted was:
"... And he did deliver billions of dollars for the Big Dig, and for various earmark projects, as recently as this spring. ..."

How is that inherently "negative?" Not everyone thinks earmarks and patronage are necessarily "negative." They are, like it or not, the spoils of the political system awarded the victors of elections, throughout the history of this Republic. When Ted could get some of that for Massachusetts, he did, unabashedly, and many of his constituents count those Federal dollars as a political win.

If your view is that he was above all that, he wasn't. If your view is that statesmen, of a stature that warrant references as rhetorically lofty as "Lion of the Senate," don't try to influence earmarks, that's another discussion.
posted by paulsc at 4:31 AM on August 26, 2009


Maybe he tried a lot harder after I moved out of his state. I hope so, because it's hard to imagine him trying less than when I was there.

If Ted Kennedy were truly phoning it in, ignoring his constituents, getting soused behind closed doors, and trying less than anyone else in Congress, what does that say about the other seat-warming morons in the House and Senate over the past, oh, 5 to 10 years? Or were they actually trying harder than Kennedy, especially in terms of bipartisanship?

If I'd tried and succeeded at doing even a minuscule fraction of the things Kennedy did, I'd be able to say I'd lived a full life.
posted by blucevalo at 4:37 AM on August 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


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posted by purephase at 4:39 AM on August 26, 2009


No! You cannot go just yet. There's still work to be done.


Great American, you and your family gave more to this country than any should ever be asked. Rest in peace with them.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:41 AM on August 26, 2009


I've been trying, and I just can't come up with the words to describe how sad I am about this man's passing. All I can say is "thank you," and that sounds so pale and shallow compared to what I feel and what he did. He wasn't even close to perfect, but he was such a good man. He gave so much for other people, and I can think of no one who is going to be able to step up and take his place in that role, now that he is gone. I so hoped he would live to see healthcare reform become a reality. Alas, I fear now that it never will.

We are far poorer today than we were yesterday, as a people and as a nation. My heart is breaking. :(

Thank you, Senator, for everything. Safe journey to you. Youve earned the rest.

.
posted by perilous at 4:42 AM on August 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


paulsc, you've shit in the thread several times now and we've all heard what you have to say. Can you just go away now?
posted by RussHy at 4:42 AM on August 26, 2009 [11 favorites]


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posted by biscotti at 4:45 AM on August 26, 2009


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posted by cashman at 4:46 AM on August 26, 2009


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posted by jonp72 at 4:47 AM on August 26, 2009


Damn. I'd really hoped he'd live to see the heath care thing pass.
posted by Devils Rancher at 4:47 AM on August 26, 2009


Really? We had that law? What happened?

We still have the law, but that is not a good description of it. It's called HIPAA. Before HIPAA, if you quit or were fired or lost your health insurance, when you got a new job and new health insurance, your new insurance plan could refuse to cover anything that your previous insurance plan covered. So, if you or a spouse or a child had any kind of chronic condition (diabetes, heart issue, allergies, currently pregnant, acne, anything), your new insurance company would not cover it.

This led to people desperately trying to hold on to their current job and insurance coverage, anxiously wondering how much it would cost if they ever lose their job or switched jobs. Held hostage by a company and an insurance plan.

HIPAA changed all of that, among other things. It was an important step towards freeing up people to being able to switch insurance plans and jobs without fear.
posted by jeanmari at 4:48 AM on August 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


.

And to the "good riddance" crowd above: as I've said celebrating the death of anyone but a mass-murderer pretty much makes you an asshole, in my book.
posted by shiu mai baby at 4:48 AM on August 26, 2009 [15 favorites]


mediareport, I think that refers to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996.

It looks like the sections on denial of coverage for preexisting conditions applied to employers offering group coverage, and doesn't do anything for people who have to buy individual policies out on the market, and can't get them. That's my read anyway, good fodder for an AskMe question though.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 4:52 AM on August 26, 2009


A sad day for America. Yes, he was a flawed man. Who among us isn't? He was a great man too, without any doubt. What a loss.

.
posted by fourcheesemac at 4:54 AM on August 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


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posted by notclosed at 4:55 AM on August 26, 2009


I was conceived on the very day JFK was assassinated, so I've always had an interest in the Kennedy family. Without them, I wouldn't even exist, as I was begat from the liberal misery of my parents as they clung to each other and coped with the grief of JFK's death. But of all the Kennedys, Teddy was the iron man, the durable and tireless worker for the less fortunate in society, the champion for those who don't have much of a voice on their own in our political process. I knew this day was coming, but I had no idea how emotionally overwhelmed it would leave me. Thank yo SO MUCH, Teddy. May there be many puppies and boats in your afterlife.

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posted by jamstigator at 4:56 AM on August 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm 31. Ted Kennedy has been my senator since I turned 18. How nice it was that every single time an issue I felt passionatley about came to the Senate floor, I would look up the voting records to learn that Ted Kennedy had voted exactly how I would have. Every single time! He was truly my representative. His personal flaws were legion, and many of my older family members never forgave him for Mary Jo Kopechne's death. However, in my lifetime I have seen no champion of human rights and liberal causes like Ted Kennedy. An outspoken advocate for poor people, immigrants, gays, etc..., Senator Kennedy spent his career standing up for the little guy, and we're a better country because of it.
posted by emd3737 at 4:59 AM on August 26, 2009 [12 favorites]


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posted by candyland at 5:07 AM on August 26, 2009


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posted by Jugwine at 5:07 AM on August 26, 2009


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posted by defenestration at 5:09 AM on August 26, 2009


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Cancer sucks.
posted by pointystick at 5:15 AM on August 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


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posted by HiddenInput at 5:15 AM on August 26, 2009


I have no wish to 'shit' in this thread but this is a hagiography, Teddy Kennedy is viewed very differently outside of the USA.
posted by tellurian at 5:15 AM on August 26, 2009 [3 favorites]


There are not enough .s.
posted by awesomebrad at 5:16 AM on August 26, 2009


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posted by raztaj at 5:17 AM on August 26, 2009


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posted by dbiedny at 5:18 AM on August 26, 2009


For those of us who vividly remember the assassinations of JFK and RFK, and all the ups and downs in Teddy's life, this is a sad day. I hope his passing was peaceful.

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posted by apartment dweller at 5:18 AM on August 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


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posted by jquinby at 5:18 AM on August 26, 2009


I was conceived on the very day JFK was assassinated, so I've always had an interest in the Kennedy family. Without them, I wouldn't even exist, as I was begat from the liberal misery of my parents as they clung to each other and coped with the grief of JFK's death.
Eew! TMI.
posted by tellurian at 5:18 AM on August 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


It is the end of an era.
Ask not what you can do for your country; ask what more your country can do for the rich and powerful.
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posted by rdone at 5:21 AM on August 26, 2009


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posted by longdaysjourney at 5:21 AM on August 26, 2009


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posted by HyperBlue at 5:21 AM on August 26, 2009


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posted by elsietheeel at 5:24 AM on August 26, 2009


Teddy Kennedy is viewed very differently outside of the USA.

Long Guardian obit doesn't pull punches.
posted by mediareport at 5:25 AM on August 26, 2009 [9 favorites]


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posted by xorry at 5:25 AM on August 26, 2009


Silence is exactly what Teddy Kennedy wouldn't want.
posted by eriko at 5:26 AM on August 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


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posted by demonic winged headgear at 5:27 AM on August 26, 2009


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posted by nooneyouknow at 5:27 AM on August 26, 2009


I never like seeing in America something as akin to aristocracy as the Kennedy Dynasty. It's contrary to democratic ideals.

And I don't like it when Massachusetts Kennedys turn up as other states' senators and congressmen,as if public office is their due. And until 1991, I thought that had Ted's last name been "Smith", he wouldn't have retained both his freedom and his political career after contributing to Mary Jo Kopechne's death. (Then, in 1991, his nephew named "Kennedy Smith" got acquitted of rape).

So I never had much reason to like Ted Kennedy. But he earned my respect, because -- along with the booze and the women and the recklessness and the fame and the Kennedy name -- Ted also worked damn hard to do some good and important things for this country and its weakest and most marginalized. And let's be honest: given that he was a Kennedy, he didn't need to do those things; he could have sat on his ass, looted the Treasury, and partied day and night and still kept his seat.

So no hero-worship, no hagiography, no "Kennedy mystique" or longing for some non-existent Camelot impels me here: Ted Kennedy earned his . from me.
posted by orthogonality at 5:31 AM on August 26, 2009 [24 favorites]


Ted Kennedy had been my Senator my whole life until very recently. I have to strongly disagree with what has been said about his constituent services. Seven years ago, I was arrested in a high-profile anti-war protest in DC. The kind that made the papers across the country, including the Boston Globe. I happened to be the person standing in front of the AFP photographer while the cops beat my ass, and the picture made it on the front page of many papers.

Upon learning of the arrest, Ted Kennedy called my parents the next day to make sure that they were doing ok. He told them that they ought to be proud of their son for taking a stand and that they had raised me with good values. He promised to investigate why the police were so brutal (indeed, the arrests have been back in the news here in DC, where I now live).

I'm still in shock. Even with months of knowing that this was coming (and that Coakley will take the spot b/c Reich won't come back to run), I still wasn't prepared for it. We're going to miss you Teddy. Thanks for everything.
posted by allen.spaulding at 5:36 AM on August 26, 2009 [112 favorites]


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posted by sy at 5:37 AM on August 26, 2009


Teddy had pretty big flaws, but I'd ask folks to remember that he did quite a lot behind the scenes for the peace process in Northern Ireland. I shudder to think what would be going on up there now, were it not for Teddy and other US politicians behind the scenes.
posted by tomcosgrave at 5:39 AM on August 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


He was one of the last great democratic senators. He actually stood up for the little men and women of this country. This is a great loss to this country, us, and his family. I just hope that his skills and knowledge were past down to another senator willing to pick up where he left off. If all democrats were like him things actually might get done around here. But enough about that.

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posted by Mastercheddaar at 5:44 AM on August 26, 2009


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posted by brevator at 5:45 AM on August 26, 2009


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"ted kennedy: good senator. bad date."
i cannot find a link to the national lampoon "if ted kennedy have been driving a vw beetle, he'd be president today" advertisement. alas.
posted by rmd1023 at 5:45 AM on August 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


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posted by samsara at 5:45 AM on August 26, 2009


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posted by Sreiny at 5:46 AM on August 26, 2009


The now-oldest member of the Senate is going to be hurting today.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 5:46 AM on August 26, 2009


.

There's not much to say that hasn't been said, so I'll just quote from the statement issued by the Kennedy family:

"He always believed that our best days were still ahead, but it’s hard to imagine any of them without him."
posted by rollbiz at 5:47 AM on August 26, 2009


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Also, stay classy, ABC News.
posted by Lazlo Hollyfeld at 5:47 AM on August 26, 2009


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posted by Morrigan at 5:47 AM on August 26, 2009


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posted by rand at 5:49 AM on August 26, 2009


He had the same type of brain tumor my husband's stepfather died from. A horrible thing to have to deal with. Wouldn't wish it on anyone.

A sad day, but having seen this up close in our own family, probably a welcome release. Condolences to his family and loved ones....
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 5:49 AM on August 26, 2009 [6 favorites]


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posted by inconsequentialist at 5:50 AM on August 26, 2009


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Adding my hopes to the pile that we can pass a great health care reform in his honor.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 5:50 AM on August 26, 2009


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posted by uncorq at 5:51 AM on August 26, 2009


As a non-American whose awareness of Ted Kennedy is based almost exclusively on old Bloom County strips and Denis Leary jokes, I just want to say that I appreciate all the shared links in this thread. They provide a deeper understanding of a man who previously I had filed as W.C. Fields in "The Senator".
posted by joelhunt at 5:51 AM on August 26, 2009


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posted by mistersquid at 5:51 AM on August 26, 2009


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posted by pianoboy at 5:56 AM on August 26, 2009


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posted by Shutter at 5:58 AM on August 26, 2009


Also, stay classy, ABC News.

Insufficiently respectful of the dead? I don't think you undersand journalism. Chappaquiddick was destined to be high in Kennedy's obit from the day it happened. It's a tribute to him that his subsequent career pushed it down as far as it has.

Or perhaps ABC is wholly respectful of the dead, but it's not the same deceased you're thinking of?
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 6:01 AM on August 26, 2009


paulsc, you are a downright deuche, dude. The man just died and you can't wait to unleash your petty insecurities here, now. Clearly you have limited, highly subjective senses of humanity and respect.

Teddy, you will be missed.

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posted by unwordy at 6:03 AM on August 26, 2009 [8 favorites]


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posted by keijo at 6:05 AM on August 26, 2009


I'm going to quote my dad about this, from a LiveJournal post he wrote about polititions in May of '08.

I was as outraged back then as any wingnut blogger is today that he got off scot-free from what should've been at the least a case of vehicular homicide.

Sometimes things have a funny way of working out, though. In the years since he drove the Olds and Mary Jo into the drink, Teddy transformed himself from a lightweight playboy into one of the most effective -- and driven -- champions of the underdog in the history of the Senate. Coincidence? Catholic school-boy guilt working itself out? Or successful passage through a true dark night of the soul, with a far better man emerging at the end?

Wherever he came from, this nation desperately needs a million more like him, not one less.


Teddy Kennedy's story always gave me hope that people really can get better and do better things. I'm very sad at his passing.
posted by Neofelis at 6:05 AM on August 26, 2009 [26 favorites]


I have no wish to 'shit' in this thread but this is a hagiography, Teddy Kennedy is viewed very differently outside of the USA.

What exactly do you mean by that? People outside of the USA might see him as a "celebrity" rather than a politician. But you're implying that he's not well liked outside the States.

For those outside the USA who're curious, his voting record is here if all you know about him is Chappaquiddick.

He had a bit of a reputation for being pro-IRA, but that was undeserved.

I never especially admired the man, but the sheer volume of his work eventually won me over. Most people I know (In Australia and Scotland) have the same view. A "fortunate son", but one who worked very hard for the less fortunate all over the globe.

The fact that most people here are concentrating on his achievements and ignoring his very obvious flaws (though drink and women are quite mild vices compared to what has more recently been overlooked in DC) doesn't make this a hagiography.

Please explain.
posted by GeckoDundee at 6:05 AM on August 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


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posted by ob at 6:07 AM on August 26, 2009


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posted by Navelgazer at 6:08 AM on August 26, 2009


HIPAA, COBRA, National Cancer Act, ADA, Mental Health Parity Act, SCHIP, minimum wage increases...your personal life made you a controversial figure, but the legacy of your legislation has protected millions of vulnerable people. RIP, TK.
posted by jeanmari at 6:08 AM on August 26, 2009 [16 favorites]


Anybody here seen my old friend Teddy?
Can you tell me where he's gone?
I thought I saw him walkin' up over the hill,
With Abraham, Martin, Bobby and John.

.
posted by Mali at 6:09 AM on August 26, 2009 [15 favorites]


Anyone with such a long career will have changed over time, as all humans do -- but on balance, it certainly sounds as if Teddy did far more good than harm, particularly during the past couple of decades.

There are not many well-known politicians for whom that is true.

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posted by jdfalk at 6:10 AM on August 26, 2009


* | *
- O -
* | *

(He was, after all, a Catholic. Peace be with you Teddy!)
posted by JoeXIII007 at 6:10 AM on August 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


I will be judging this country on what fraction of the Michael Jackson coverage Ted Kennedy's death receives.

I am not optimistic.
posted by djb at 6:11 AM on August 26, 2009 [5 favorites]


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posted by lord_wolf at 6:12 AM on August 26, 2009


drink and women are quite mild vices

True, but he got drunk and killed a woman, dude.
posted by the cuban at 6:12 AM on August 26, 2009 [3 favorites]


Let's work harder to pass health care reform in his honor.
posted by theora55 at 6:13 AM on August 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


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posted by Blue Jello Elf at 6:14 AM on August 26, 2009


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posted by chundo at 6:15 AM on August 26, 2009


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posted by littlerobothead at 6:17 AM on August 26, 2009


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posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 6:17 AM on August 26, 2009


Also, stay classy, ABC News.

Yeah, I'm never hesitant to criticize the press, but that doesn't strike me as tasteless at all. It's a necessary piece of any fair-minded look at the man's life.

And thanks to the folks who clarified the HIPPA legislation for me.
posted by mediareport at 6:17 AM on August 26, 2009


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posted by mkdg at 6:18 AM on August 26, 2009


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posted by albrecht at 6:18 AM on August 26, 2009


He truly had many friends in the Senate, on both sides of the aisle, and he will be missed.
posted by caddis at 6:18 AM on August 26, 2009


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posted by fredosan at 6:19 AM on August 26, 2009


My sympathies to his friends and family. Politically, well, may we never see his like again.

i cannot find a link to the national lampoon "if ted kennedy have been driving a vw beetle, he'd be president today" advertisement. alas.

Link.

A few issues later, National Lampoon published the following retraction, "Even if Ted Kennedy had driven a Volkswagen he wouldn't be president today."
posted by BigSky at 6:19 AM on August 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


I already put in my '.' upthread, but I can't help thinking that Kennedy's death will be the acid test for whether "Senatorial courtesy" has any meaning at all. If the Republicans don't make at least some minor procedural concessions or tone down their obstructionism just a teeny weeny bit, we'll know that, when Ted Kennedy died, senatorial courtesy died along with him.
posted by jonp72 at 6:19 AM on August 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


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posted by chunking express at 6:20 AM on August 26, 2009


Seconding Avenger's thought: A brave, hardworking, intelligent, kind, flawed and great man.

In order to value an accomplished or talented person, their work and life, if one turns a blind eye to their flaws, their mistakes or even the bad they did, it is not, in my opinion, an authentic evaluation. See the bad, clearly, soberly, astutely and also value, savor, cherish, delight in what was good. Neither all bad nor all good but the mosaic of diverse characteristics that make up any human being. In some people, some flaws do outweigh the good or are very dark and then the evaluation needs to be examined differently. I don't think that was the case of Senator Ted Kennedy at all. The world is a much better place that he was born, lived, worked and achieved in it. He spent decades - a lifetime- working on health care reform and already accomplished a lot.

Frankly, considering what this man went through in his life, in spite of his family's money and power and because of it, it's amazing Ted Kennedy turned out as well as he did as a Senator, all nine terms. His father, Joseph Kennedy, was a nasty character, and that's the nice way of saying it, who lobotomized his daughter for being dyslexic, sided with the Nazis against Jews, supported and sided with Senator Joe McCarthy, was a bootlegger and had his talons out for his sons to become politically powerful, any way that was possible. Ted, the baby of the family, who was compared unfavorably with his older brothers by his father, acted out in college, cheated on an exam, was involved with the death of a woman, Mary Jo Kopechne, who died in the car he drove off of a pier, was a womanizer and all this became publicly known in a roller coaster media blitz of shame. He almost died in an airplane crash in 1964 and spent the rest of his life on pain killers for the severe back injury he was left with.

Then Ted had to survive the assassinations of his older brothers, JFK and Bobby.

It's no wonder Ted struggled with alcoholism. But, in spite of that he made some major accomplishments in American history these last four and a half decades: The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, the National Cancer Act of 1971, the Federal Election Campaign Act Amendments of 1974, the COBRA Act of 1985, the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act of 1986, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, the Ryan White AIDS Care Act in 1990, the Civil Rights Act of 1991, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, the Mental Health Parity Act in 1996 and 2008, the State Children's Health Insurance Program in 1997, the No Child Left Behind Act in 2002, and the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act in 2009. He was was the Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee.

"Senator Kennedy calls it a national disgrace that America is the only industrial nation in the world that refuses to guarantee health care for all its people."

Nthing the idea: A fitting memorial to the Kennedy passing: pass Health care bill

38Lemon: Brain Cancer Awareness - from a Patient's Perspective

In his own beautifully spoken words eulogizing Bobby: [He] need not be idealized, or enlarged in death beyond what he was in life; to be remembered simply as a good and decent man, who saw wrong and tried to right it, saw suffering and tried to heal it, saw war and tried to stop it.
posted by nickyskye at 6:22 AM on August 26, 2009 [32 favorites]


I'm Irish. We again would have a different view of Teddy Kennedy to most outside of the USA. Most of us here are well aware of the Trojan work done by him (among others) for the cause of peace in N.I. The banality of peacetime, for want of a better phrase, has somewhat eroded that awareness among younger folk.

Goodness knows he did plenty wrong in his time, but it is notable to me how much of his life's work went into protecting and improving the lot of some very vulnerable groups of American society. Like many others in this thread, I hope his long-held dream for universal healthcare is realised.

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Go n-eirí an bóthar leat, a hEadbhárd.. "well done, thou good and faithful servant".
posted by psychostorm at 6:24 AM on August 26, 2009 [13 favorites]


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posted by interrobang at 6:25 AM on August 26, 2009


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posted by Sailormom at 6:25 AM on August 26, 2009


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posted by contessa at 6:25 AM on August 26, 2009


Ted Kennedy was an excellent Senator, but he was not a great man.
posted by orange swan at 6:25 AM on August 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


Hey, paulsc, if you're going to pee in your Pampers every time you hear about a Senator being a grade-A dick to his constituents, I sure as fuck hope you didn't vote for John McCain, who never in his life kept an appointment with someone who had't already written a check.

Even as a liberal, I didn't care much for Kennedy personally, and, like Byrd, I thought his personal failings sometimes overshadowed his accomplishments. But he still did a lot of good for literally millions and millions of people, and the "good riddances" say a hell of a lot more about you and your kind than they do about Kennedy.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 6:25 AM on August 26, 2009 [11 favorites]


Reflecting on a man's legacy --the peaks and the valleys-- is legitimate. Using the opportunity provided by a man's demise to spout invective regarding a perceived personal slight is gauche and petty.
posted by MasonDixon at 6:28 AM on August 26, 2009 [13 favorites]


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posted by contrariwise at 6:28 AM on August 26, 2009


Hey, Optimus, to be fair, paulsc wasn't part of the "good riddance" crew. He persisted a little more than necessary to make his point, but it's a fair point and he made it thoughtfully.
posted by mediareport at 6:31 AM on August 26, 2009 [16 favorites]


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posted by rtha at 6:33 AM on August 26, 2009


Teddy Kennedy, his whole family, really, was characterized by the fact that they never wanted for anything

except power - and although i'll say that he tried to use that power to further what he believed would be good for his country, he was not immune to its seduction or its privileges - and he was driven to get it for its own sake

but then you can say that about damn near any politician and it shouldn't be taken as a dismissal of the good he has done

what his death really represents is the final departure of 60's type liberalism from the political mainstream - i don't know that anyone else is still left

it's a sad and significant milestone for our country
posted by pyramid termite at 6:33 AM on August 26, 2009


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posted by sarcasticah at 6:34 AM on August 26, 2009


True, but he got drunk and killed a woman, dude.

I know I shouldn't really rise to this, but I can't let it stand either.

Now that he's dead, perhaps the truth about Chappaquiddick will come out. I doubt it will. I also doubt that, even if it were to come out, it would show him in a good light. But I also think that he didn't "kill a woman" in the way you are suggesting.
posted by GeckoDundee at 6:35 AM on August 26, 2009


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posted by sabira at 6:37 AM on August 26, 2009


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...first cast a stone...
posted by fuse theorem at 6:39 AM on August 26, 2009


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posted by JeffK at 6:40 AM on August 26, 2009


Just a brief anecdote to counter paulsc's. In 1992, when I was nine years old, the city of Boston dedicated a square to Ted's mother, Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy, on the street she grew up on in Dorchester. I grew up a few blocks away and attended the ceremony with my mother and grandmother. I was young, but had been instilled with a reverence of the Kennedys from a young age. My grandparents had a portrait of JFK hanging in their hall, and I believe my grandmother even wrote a nasty letter to Jay Leno after he told a particularly cutting monologue joke about Teddy. While many people thought the Kennedys were stuck-up patricians, to my working class Irish Catholic grandparents, they were evidence of the potential America held for advancement. They began as immigrants and rose to the highest echelons of American society. To those who cannot understand why the Kennedys are held in such high regard in some pockets of Boston, that is why.

Anyway, at the ceremony, Teddy was going to lead the crowd in a rendition of "My Wild Irish Rose," in honor of his mother and he needed someone to hand out the lyric sheets. He scanned the front line of the crowd and pointed at me. My grandmother, needless to say, was thrilled. It was a brief encounter but he was kind and gracious and afterward signed an autograph for me. Being a young child, I was very anxious and nervous, but his demeanor put me at ease. In fact, it gave me enough courage to approach Ray Flynn, who was mayor at the time, to ask his autograph. The cold shoulder I received from him only enhanced my appreciation of Teddy's warmth. As I grew older, I was more able to appreciate him for his work and steadfast support of those who were less fortunate than he, perhaps with his own family's humble origins in mind.

Anecdotes like mine and paulsc's are easy, but they don't tell the full story. Tip O'Neill famously said that all politics are local, and that's true in many respects, but Ted Kennedy was a national politician. His commitment to public service went beyond geography. To compare O'Neill and Kennedy misses the differences in their respective roles, as a Representative and a Senator. I want my Representative to be on the ground in his or her district, working with constituents to make our locality a better place, to fight in our own backyard. I want my Senator to take the fight beyond, and Kennedy surely did that. He represented Massachusetts, but his constituency was national.

He was not a perfect person, and I don't think anyone in this thread, even die-hard fans would contend otherwise. His personal life was checkered and the Chappaquiddick incident is a severe stain on his legacy. It's important that we remember the bad with the good, both so we can hope to avoid similar pitfalls and also know not to expect our elected officials be paragons of virtue. I would say, however, that when critics on the right invoke Mary Jo Kopechne's name, I get the impression that they are less concerned with the loss of her life than they are happy to have a cudgel with which to swat their liberal foe.

He was a good politician, a great public servant, and one of the many reasons I'm proud to be from Massachusetts.

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posted by mpbx at 6:45 AM on August 26, 2009 [54 favorites]


True, but he got drunk and killed a woman, dude.

Dude -- were you there?
posted by blucevalo at 6:48 AM on August 26, 2009


End of an era.

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posted by futureisunwritten at 6:54 AM on August 26, 2009


Over 300 posts in and it's just a dot in the ocean, but:

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posted by PlusDistance at 6:58 AM on August 26, 2009


Also, stay classy, ABC News.

We're supposed to hold back from pointing out the bad parts of the life of someone who just died? Why, to avoid the hackneyed "stay classy" retort?
posted by Jaltcoh at 7:00 AM on August 26, 2009


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posted by HumanComplex at 7:05 AM on August 26, 2009


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fucking cancer.
posted by dog food sugar at 7:06 AM on August 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


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posted by oinopaponton at 7:07 AM on August 26, 2009


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posted by box at 7:08 AM on August 26, 2009


Also, stay classy, ABC News.

We're supposed to hold back from pointing out the bad parts of the life of someone who just died? Why, to avoid the hackneyed "stay classy" retort?


Stay classy, Jaltcoh. Zing!
posted by grobstein at 7:11 AM on August 26, 2009


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posted by zaelic at 7:14 AM on August 26, 2009


he got drunk and killed a woman

Even ignoring that being an incredibly ignorant and simplistic statement helped by 40 years of vengeful hatred against a prominent liberal, Kennedy's legislative accomplishments, including SCHIP, the Family Medical Leave Act, and numerous wage and benefit mandates probably saved more American lives than any legislator's work in a generation.

If even a thousandth of the rage aimlessly directed by a general media-fed public about the death of one person 40 years ago was applied to the countless Congressmen, Senators, and Presidents who ordered the death and suffering of millions with a stroke of the pen or raise of the hand in the same amount of time, the world would be a much less horrible place right now.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 7:16 AM on August 26, 2009 [29 favorites]


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posted by Miko at 7:16 AM on August 26, 2009


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posted by fungible at 7:16 AM on August 26, 2009


Here's to Ted Kennedy. He was an alcoholic who made some huge mistakes, who allowed personal tragedy to scour his soul more than sour it, and who helped make my country a better place for people lacking the privileges of money and power.
posted by zennie at 7:17 AM on August 26, 2009 [6 favorites]


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posted by Bummus at 7:17 AM on August 26, 2009


He was my senator for years. I think he's the highest ranking officeholder, by far, that I've never had to hold my nose to vote for.

I thought his brothers were, at best, overrated playboys. Teddy was heading that way, but despite killing a woman, he was always there, passing laws to help women, gays, the poor, etc.

Even as a young separatist lesbian who'd use the longest line at the lumberyard checkout to avoid dealing with a patriarchal oppressor, I voted for him with minimal angst. The man made amends.
posted by QIbHom at 7:17 AM on August 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


We're supposed to hold back from pointing out the bad parts of the life of someone who just died?

I believe the guy was sincere in supporting his causes. I balance that with the only personal experience I have of him, which was when he and his group came into the nightclub Area in lower Manhattan, he gestured at the table we were sitting at, and said, "we'll take that table."

We were shuffled out, and a security cordon of sorts was erected so we couldn't even stand near the spot we had staked out earlier. No big deal, actually kind of funny, and thought-provoking in terms of what it means to be a man of the people.
posted by StickyCarpet at 7:18 AM on August 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


Why, to avoid the hackneyed "stay classy" retort?

Yeah, respect for the dead is so completely cliched.
posted by blucevalo at 7:19 AM on August 26, 2009


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posted by supercres at 7:19 AM on August 26, 2009


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posted by jmmpangaea at 7:19 AM on August 26, 2009


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posted by jbiz at 7:23 AM on August 26, 2009


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posted by EarBucket at 7:24 AM on August 26, 2009


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posted by cowbellemoo at 7:26 AM on August 26, 2009


Jesus. I'm watching Joe Biden right now and it looks like he just aged 20 years in the last three hours. These two worked next to each other for 36 years.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 7:30 AM on August 26, 2009


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And:

So now the whole health care reform depends on the Massachusetts legislation backtracking earlier stuff and giving a (by them) hated governor more power.

Methinks this is going to delay the legislation quite a bit.
posted by DreamerFi at 7:31 AM on August 26, 2009


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posted by Heretic at 7:31 AM on August 26, 2009


With a looming sense of foreboding, I'm heading over to 4chan to see if an "I CAN HAZ PUBLIC OPTION" macro has been produced yet…
posted by LMGM at 7:32 AM on August 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


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posted by thivaia at 7:34 AM on August 26, 2009


I'm going to nth what pyramid termite said: it's the end of an era. My mother died just a year ago tomorrow and for some reason this loss of the last of the Kennedy boys is hitting me hard. I grew up in and then married into one of those Irish Catholic families where the Kennedys were right up there with St. Francis of Assisi and the Pope: my ex mother in law has, as so many do, a picture of JFK right next to Jesus, the Sacred Heart, the Irish prayer and Our Lady, all in the kitchen in a row. My parents talked about the Kennedys with pride; they were the Catholic hope, the proof of the American dream, that an Irishman could get to the top. JFK was their generation's Barack Obama and now, as my parents have passed, as John passed and Bobby and now Teddy, as they're all gone, I know that we're watching the end of a generation. We've lost something with that generation, perhaps a sense of noblesse oblige, perhaps a belief that we must all work together to raise all of us up and I hope that my generation can find that again, in these post cynical years since greed became good and America seems ever more provincial, more narrow minded, more angry, less educated and less open.

No, he wasn't a perfect man by any means, but he was one of the last of those who never stopped trying to bring out the best for all of us.

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posted by mygothlaundry at 7:34 AM on August 26, 2009 [13 favorites]


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posted by ceej at 7:36 AM on August 26, 2009


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posted by exlotuseater at 7:39 AM on August 26, 2009


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posted by kuppajava at 7:41 AM on August 26, 2009


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posted by k8lin at 7:42 AM on August 26, 2009


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posted by min at 7:44 AM on August 26, 2009


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posted by rmannion at 7:45 AM on August 26, 2009


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posted by Baby_Balrog at 7:45 AM on August 26, 2009


Every last one of us, the naysayers and the worshippers alike, is richer, healthier, and more secure in the pursuit of our happiness for the accomplishments of Edward Moore Kennedy. And every last one of us is poorer today and for years to come for his loss. Carrying around a tiny flame of resentment for being snubbed years ago is sad and petty compared to the torch of social justice that Kennedy bore.

Ted Kennedy was born into a life of privilege, and given the venal weaknesses that defined the first half of his life, it would have been easy for him to slip away from public life and obscure himself in money, drink and philandering. Instead, faced with the undeniable and unavoidable, he addressed his own worst enemy -- himself -- and overcame his personal failings while cementing a legacy as perhaps the greatest American legislator of the 20th Century. The corridors of power are full of men and women who would not give the time of day to anyone who did not benefit their selfish interests, but few, if any, of those would be willing to own up to their shortcomings and better themselves and everyone else in the process.

If Ted Kennedy had died in that plane crash or drowned with Mary Jo Kopechne at Chappaquiddick, he would have been just another Kennedy child caught up in the curse of fate. If he had somehow wrested the Democratic nomination from Jimmy Carter and the election from Ronald Reagan in 1980, it's likely he would have succumbed to his demons and squandered away his Presidency with scandal. Only then, with his personal and political fortunes seemingly lost, did Ted Kennedy become a great man. And it is that great man we rightly memorialize today.
posted by briank at 7:46 AM on August 26, 2009 [34 favorites]


he got drunk and killed a woman
Even ignoring that being an incredibly ignorant and simplistic statement helped by 40 years of vengeful hatred
At least a couple people have said things like this. Could someone please explain why it is "incredibly ignorant"? "Simplistic" I get, but not necessarily the implied "oversimplistic", so if someone could explain that too, I'd appreciate it. "Vengeful hatred" I get.

Is it not the case that he drove drunk, with a woman in his car, and drove off a bridge, leading to her death?

If he had instead driven drunk without her in his car, but then crashed into her, leading to her death, wouldn't that count as "got drunk and killed a woman"? If not, why not? If so, why doesn't getting drunk and driving her off a bridge count?

I want to be clear that I think Kennedy was a great Senator, and today marks a loss for my country as a whole. And I'm not some kind of "vengeful hatred" guy who constantly goes around shouting about Chappaquiddick. I don't really know that much about it in the first place - not much beyond what I've already said: I know (or at least think I know) that he drove drunk, off a bridge, and a woman in his car died as a result. I also know (or think I know) that he didn't receive any significant criminal punishment for this, if any at all, and I definitely know that the right wing constantly goes apoplectic about the whole thing. But that's about all I know.

So I'm genuinely curious, and I'm not trying to be confrontational or disrespectful or anything like it:

Am I wrong about anything that I think I know about this? Did he not drive drunk with a woman dying as a direct result? Is there any question that he drove drunk with a woman dying as a direct result? And if I'm not wrong about that, then how is it "incredibly ignorant" to say that "he got drunk and killed a woman"?
posted by Flunkie at 7:46 AM on August 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


a lot of the hagiography now ignores how hidebound an establishment Democrat he could be, and his candidacy definitely was a large factor in Carter's reelection loss

And what did he split with Carter on? That's right - health care.

Like anyone, he had personal demons and bouts of bad judgment. You'd be hard-pressed, though, to point to anyone else who more embodied the concept of "fighting the good fight" than Edward Kennedy.

Love him or hate him, we have lost a true patriot and genuine American Icon. To an admitted liberal like me, the world feels smaller today.

R.I.P.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 7:49 AM on August 26, 2009


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posted by brundlefly at 7:50 AM on August 26, 2009


To quote a pal IRL:

If there's any justice in this world or the next one, Ted Kennedy and Paul Wellstone are kicking the everloving shit out of Strom Thurmond together somewhere tonight. Put the boot in once for me, fellas.

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posted by wowbobwow at 7:52 AM on August 26, 2009 [15 favorites]


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posted by feste at 7:53 AM on August 26, 2009


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posted by ericb at 7:53 AM on August 26, 2009


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posted by cadge at 7:54 AM on August 26, 2009


In lieu of flowers, pass health care reform.
posted by ericb at 7:55 AM on August 26, 2009 [27 favorites]


When was the last election in Massachusetts where the incumbent Senator lost an election? Challengers to this Senator had a better chance at President than replacing him. Time for some new blood, but hopefully not another Kennedy. I'm sorry for the loss but it is time for a new Senator for the first time in nearly 50 years.
posted by brent at 7:57 AM on August 26, 2009


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posted by jaruwaan at 7:58 AM on August 26, 2009


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posted by effwerd at 7:58 AM on August 26, 2009


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posted by SuzySmith at 8:01 AM on August 26, 2009


Did he not drive drunk with a woman dying as a direct result? Is there any question that he drove drunk with a woman dying as a direct result? And if I'm not wrong about that, then how is it "incredibly ignorant" to say that "he got drunk and killed a woman"?

Well then, by the same token, one could say that Mary Jo got into a car with a drunk driver and got herself killed.
posted by zennie at 8:01 AM on August 26, 2009


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posted by Crabby Appleton at 8:04 AM on August 26, 2009


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posted by killy willy at 8:06 AM on August 26, 2009


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posted by Halloween Jack at 8:06 AM on August 26, 2009


Well then, by the same token, one could say that Mary Jo got into a car with a drunk driver and got herself killed.

Um, no. Don't go down this path, please.
posted by shiu mai baby at 8:07 AM on August 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


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posted by MrBobaFett at 8:14 AM on August 26, 2009


hate to think in these terms, but he may be the martyr we need to get HCR passed.

with that cynical thought tucked away now.


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posted by edgeways at 8:16 AM on August 26, 2009


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posted by kiwi-epitome at 8:18 AM on August 26, 2009


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posted by lysdexic at 8:21 AM on August 26, 2009


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posted by joe lisboa at 8:21 AM on August 26, 2009


Dude -- were you there?
posted by blucevalo at 6:48 AM on August 26 [+] [!]


What other explaination for Chappaquiddick is there?

DUI, fleeing the scene of an accident.. and yet he's a martyr to the loons here. Sheesh.
posted by the cuban at 8:21 AM on August 26, 2009


> Well then, by the same token, one could say that Mary Jo got into a car with a drunk driver and got herself killed.

Um, no. Don't go down this path, please.


Please yourself.
posted by zennie at 8:23 AM on August 26, 2009


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posted by robot at 8:24 AM on August 26, 2009


Re: ABC

I'm not saying I would have preferred a whitewash, or that they shouldn't have mentioned it in his obit or something. Obviously it was a huge part of his past which should be discussed, and the article is a fair and decent piece of journalism. I just feel like running this as a separate story with the title "Chappaquiddick: No Profile in Kennedy Courage" on the day he died, is a bit much. Maybe I'm just being touchy.
posted by Lazlo Hollyfeld at 8:24 AM on August 26, 2009


It is an impoverished soul that cannot leave room for redemption from crimes -- or sins -- of foolishness rather than malice.

Not one human being has lived a life free from blemish. Millions of us do things every day that *might* cause the death of someone else -- how many of us have talked on our cell phones while driving in the last week? People do stupid, thoughtless, and selfish things without necessarily being evil. That's true for most of us.

The measure of a life, at its end, cannot be reduced to one stupid moment, or a long struggle with addiction, and certainly not this man's life. He made a case for his own redemption, and unless you're prepared to wallow in hypocrisy, you must admit it's a compelling case. Your forgiveness is not required, nor is it really yours to give unless you were close to Mary Jo Kopechne or her family. One can find that episode appalling without diminishing the length of road Senator Kennedy has traveled since then.

He was a great man. Look back in history and you'll find that many great people were made that way out of sincere desire for redemption. Actions, as they say, speak louder than words.

Play Teddy out, Yeats cat:

Nor dread nor hope attend
A dying animal;
A man awaits his end
Dreading and hoping all;
Many times he died,
Many times rose again.
A great man in his pride
Confronting murderous men
Casts derision upon
Supersession of breath;
He knows death to the bone --
Man has created death.

posted by fourcheesemac at 8:25 AM on August 26, 2009 [25 favorites]


My professional life, for the last 20 years, has been defined by a piece of legislation that Kennedy authored, championed, and defended against attacks. I had the honor of meeting him when I interned for his committee office during grad school. It's hard to think of an improvement to our health care system, from HIPAA to mental health parity, that he wasn't a part of. He's been a reliable champion on just about every issue that's important to me, and I hope that other senators will be stepping forward to play that role, because we really need some strong progressive voices in the Senate right about now.
posted by gingerbeer at 8:26 AM on August 26, 2009 [5 favorites]


What a terrible time for the Kennedy family. They've had their share. (Yes, I'm aware that they have advantages few in the world can claim, but all the houses and yachts and fine scotch in the world don't replace a single soul.) I'm not much of a drinker, but I'll raise a glass in Senator Kennedy's memory tonight. It seems fitting.

Those who are saying "good riddance," have you no shame?
posted by notashroom at 8:26 AM on August 26, 2009 [3 favorites]


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posted by ahimsakid at 8:27 AM on August 26, 2009


Robert Byrd wants to name the bill after Kennedy.

On the one hand, it's wrong to exploit a man's death. On the other hands, Kennedy himself would (and probably did) OK this kind of thing. And it's even more wrong to claim the bill sets up "death panels".

Push the damn button already.
posted by DU at 8:27 AM on August 26, 2009 [3 favorites]


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posted by graventy at 8:29 AM on August 26, 2009


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posted by Skorgu at 8:29 AM on August 26, 2009


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posted by c*r at 8:34 AM on August 26, 2009


Ted Kennedy without a doubt killed Mary Jo. He admits to it. The question really becomes, how significant is this, and what charges should he have faced.

I fully believe that if a Kennedy had been a passenger, and a nobody the driver, the outcome would have been vastly different. In my mind the driver of that Buick committed an evil crime. Piloting a vehicle drunk, crashing it into the water, leaving a young lady in it, and failing to call for help to me is reckless indifference. That is one of the things that can elevate a death to a murder. Think about someone you love underwater, breathing a pocket of air, waiting for help that would never come.

So, If Ted had been a nobody, he would most likely have gone to jail for some form of homicide. He wasn't a nobody, he had connections. He stayed a free and privileged man.

To me, the rest of his life after that incident was his chance to repay his debt to Mary Jo. It seems like he eventually did an OK job of that. That today we are mourning the loss of a senator who did great things instead of an inmate is probably not just, but he did a lot of good in those years, so perhaps it is proper. I get the feeling he realized how lucky he got with Chappaquiddick and was grateful for the second chance.
posted by Antidisestablishmentarianist at 8:34 AM on August 26, 2009 [5 favorites]


DUI, fleeing the scene of an accident.. and yet he's a martyr to the loons here. Sheesh.

I guess you can be a bad person, but can be a good senator. I don't know how the Kennedys got away with so much, but I guess that was the way it used to be back then. If it had happened recently, I don't think anyone would have just let it happen.

It's bloodchilling that he didn't report this immediately. Anybody else would end up in jail, but the Kennedys got away with murder more than once.

Sorry if he's your personal hero and you're offended by my comment.
posted by anniecat at 8:35 AM on August 26, 2009


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Here's a map of the Senate Chamber. Kennedy's desk is #83, in the back row. His seniority should have let him have a front row seat. If you click on spot #83 you get a photo of the inside of the drawer where senators customarily wrote their names or initials. This same desk was used by another freshman Senator from Massachusetts (JFK). I guess Sen. Ted Kennedy wanted to stay at his brother's old desk rather than get a front row seat.
posted by marxchivist at 8:36 AM on August 26, 2009 [18 favorites]


"Teddy Kennedy, his whole family, really, was characterized by the fact that they never wanted for anything, and despite that, gave their lives to public service. They are a prime example of noblesse oblige, the notion that they were fortunate to be born into such circumstances, and that they had an obligation to care for the rest. Never was a Kennedy a rich man looking out for rich men, but a rich man who used his power and education to work for each and every one of us, and Teddy Kennedy was matched only perhaps by the late Eunice Kennedy."

Never might be a bit strong of a descriptor. Ted was famously against the Cape Cod Wind farm for example.
posted by Mitheral at 8:36 AM on August 26, 2009


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posted by munchingzombie at 8:38 AM on August 26, 2009


I came in thread to make Doublewhiskeycokenoice's comment. At any rate:

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posted by l33tpolicywonk at 8:38 AM on August 26, 2009


Millions of us do things every day that *might* cause the death of someone else -- how many of us have talked on our cell phones while driving in the last week? People do stupid, thoughtless, and selfish things without necessarily being evil.

Hopefully we wouldn't kill our friends and wait until the morning, until we talked to a dozen people on how what we should say, to report it.
posted by anniecat at 8:39 AM on August 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


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posted by Brody's chum at 8:41 AM on August 26, 2009


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posted by zizzle at 8:45 AM on August 26, 2009


Anybody else would end up in jail, but the Kennedys got away with murder more than once.

Whatever. Thanks for the nice contribution to the thread!
posted by blucevalo at 8:49 AM on August 26, 2009


Hopefully we wouldn't kill our friends and wait until the morning, until we talked to a dozen people on how what we should say, to report it.

Yes, hopefully. But I wouldn't bet on it for many of us. Perhaps you've led a saintly life, but most of us have experience with being weak in the face of shame or fear.
posted by fourcheesemac at 8:50 AM on August 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


I've seen Sen. Kennedy a few times on Capitol Hill, and he was one of the people that everyone was excited to spot, no matter what their political persuasion. He radiated a sense of history. I'm sad to think that he won't be one of the faces I'll see when I'm out there next time.
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posted by ahdeeda at 8:50 AM on August 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


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posted by ZakDaddy at 8:53 AM on August 26, 2009


What other explaination for Chappaquiddick is there?

Indeed. What other explanation for anything is there than the one you've pre-digested and pre-decided?
posted by blucevalo at 8:53 AM on August 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


I knew this day would be coming, and pretty soon at that, once he didn't show at his sister's funeral. But as a fairly young man who's had Ted Kennedy as his senator for his entire life, this is definitely a profound loss.

When I was younger I would occasionally watch the neighbors' kids, and I distinctly remember one afternoon back in '94 when I was on my way out and the older son (no more than ten or eleven, I'd say) started spouting off to me about how terrible Ted Kennedy was and how Romney was going to win the election, so said his parents. And I remember bristling at that: I was thirteen, and it made me think for the first time about how I regarded Ted Kennedy, whereas before he had largely been a background figure. He was there, and he had always been there, and it felt like he would always be there. There was something comfortable about that. I came from the classic Irish Catholic Massachusetts Democrat household (with some modifications: single mom, not as much in the way of overt religiosity and Mass-attending, but the culture was there), and while we didn't explicitly identify ourselves as such, those were the values I internalized and still hold as the base of my political values today. Ted Kennedy, to me, became the closest thing there was to an avatar of those values.

One of the most heartbreaking parts of growing up that I've experienced is that the pool of heroes available for you to look up to starts shrinking until it eventually seems like you can't believe in anyone. The flaws of people, especially public figures, become more and more perceptible as you become an adult, and everyone you want to believe in seems to disappoint you eventually. I know that the President has done this for me and for many others here over the first year of his presidency (though unlike others I'm not ready to pass final judgment on him yet). And Ted Kennedy, you could easily argue, was no hero either. You could lay out all the facts and I would not argue with them or try to spin them in a positive way. But because I grew up in a time when Chappaquiddick had long faded from the public consciousness, living on only in the jokes of stand-up comedians and in the sneering statements Republicans would make to dismiss anything he ever did or said, when the man was already the "Lion of the Senate," and a productive legislator who seemed to fall on the right side of things far more often than not, I couldn't help but bestow a heroic mantle on him myself. Maybe he didn't deserve it, but I needed to give it to someone. I think that's the nature of "heroes," anyway: they're heroes because we need them to be, not necessarily because they are. And because, coming of age in the conservative wave (I was born in '81, Reagan was already president) that was only temporarily interrupted by Bill Clinton until Obama came along, and feeling (even today) like I live in a country, whose values--outside of New England and places like it--are at odds with my own, I needed to believe that there were people with both the values and the stature to stand for what I thought was important. There are people in Congress now who share some part of Ted Kennedy's values: Bernie Sanders, Russ Feingold, Barney Frank, even my own Congressman Ed Markey, and many others. But while they may hold values in common with him, none of them has his stature.

This is only one person's experience, of course, and it's painted with sentimentality. Others will and do feel differently, and their reasons are sound. But the Congress, to me, is a little smaller today.

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posted by Kosh at 8:58 AM on August 26, 2009 [14 favorites]


I've lived in Massachusetts for most of my life. I'm fairly conservative and don't agree with Senator Kennedy on many issues, but I still respect his accomplishments. My husband, a journalist, is already dreading the next few days at work as he will have to edit out the crude comments from the online editions.
My point is, some of us can agree to disagree and respect the opposition.
For years, the man has donated his salary to charity. I think more reps on both sides could emulate that particular example.
posted by pentagoet at 8:58 AM on August 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


Big men have big flaws.
posted by klangklangston at 9:03 AM on August 26, 2009 [3 favorites]


Chappaquadick should be right up on the top of his obituary. However you want to look at it, it was a defining moment in his life.

You'd have a difficult time defending his actions. He drunkenly drove a car off a bridge and swam for safety, leaving his passenger to die in SEVEN FEET of water. Evidence shows Mary Jo survived the crash and breathed in an air pocket until she finally died. Had Teddy tried to free her, or called for help, she may well have survived. With a friend (and likely a lover) dying, Ted Kennedy thought about himself and his career and ran away.

Just as Watergate and Vietnam defined Nixon and Iraq will define Bush, Chappaquadick defined Ted Kennedy. It's just not fair to reality to ignore this.
posted by b_thinky at 9:03 AM on August 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


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posted by joedan at 9:07 AM on August 26, 2009


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posted by Kimberly at 9:07 AM on August 26, 2009


The Lion roars in favor of minimum wage.

Thank you, Senator.
posted by rtha at 9:09 AM on August 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


Hide your golf clubs from blucevalo. He gets really upset when someone doesn't share his opinion of the Kennedys. Thanks for being the security guard/bouncer in this thread. What would the Kennedys do without their fans who cannot for the life of them qualify the Kennedy character as someone who was capable of doing a very, very, very bad thing.

But I wouldn't bet on it for many of us.

I swear to you on the lives of my unborn children, I would never, ever do anything like that, not to my worst enemy and not to a casual acquaintance. I'm not a saint, and reporting that kind of accident doesn't qualify anybody for sainthood, but that's definitely something I would never, ever do, and I would bet a lot of people wouldn't do it either. Because it's wrong. The kind of wrong you can't explain away or chalk up to circumstances. The wrong was letting her drown and not running to the houses knocking on doors for help.

Anybody who thinks it's understandable to let someone drown and okay should seek psychiatric help. Immediately.
posted by anniecat at 9:09 AM on August 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


Just as Watergate and Vietnam defined Nixon and Iraq will define Bush, Chappaquadick defined Ted Kennedy.

Well, at least Nixon gets two defining things. Generous of you. Iraq didn't "define" Bush - his legacy of horror extends well beyond that conflict.

I don't see anyone here "defending" or "ignoring" Kennedy's actions at Chappaquidick. Nor is anyone really "excusing" those actions. None of us, as I said above, has the right to "forgive" (or not forgive) him for those actions. But if we are going to treat even major failings of courage or character as disqualifying people from contributing to society, or having their subsequent contributions count for something, then the ranks of contributors will need to be thinned severely.

Finally, I quibble with the verb "defined" -- in my dictionary, words often have many definitions. Historians credit Nixon with opening a relationship with China, not just the horror of the Vietnam war or the shame of Watergate. I can credit G. W. Bush's policy on AIDS prevention in Africa, and count many distinctive reasons why his was a failed presidency as well, and would have been even sans Iraq.

When each of us passes, we might hope for a fair hearing of the balance of our contributions and our failings. What does it cost to extend such a hearing today?
posted by fourcheesemac at 9:17 AM on August 26, 2009 [3 favorites]


I swear to you on the lives of my unborn children...

I've heard that before.
posted by RussHy at 9:18 AM on August 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


This interesting tribute, which was in the concluding paragraph of The Guardian (UK) coverage:

The former first lady Nancy Reagan said: "Given our political differences, people are sometimes surprised by how close Ronnie and I have been to the Kennedy family. In recent years Ted and I found our common ground in stem cell research, and I considered him an ally and a dear friend. I will miss him."

That's classy (and I'm no Nancy fan...). I hope right wingers take their cue from her... but probably won't.
posted by kuppajava at 9:19 AM on August 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


It is disturbing to read how ready and willing people are to revise or ignore history in deference and respect for the dead, minimizing the event saying that Kennedy was a flawed but great man. I have equal contempt for those of you who choose to do so as I do for those who call George W a great president.

Flawed is being an alcoholic or habitually cheating on your wife. Leaving someone to die is a cowardly and despicable act even if (or perhaps especially because) you are from Camelot.

His actions at Chappaquiddick marked the man, as it justly should have just over 40 years ago, and it is right to remember this horrible event amongst his better deeds and decisions.
posted by gnash at 9:20 AM on August 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


To me, the rest of his life after that incident was his chance to repay his debt to Mary Jo. It seems like he eventually did an OK job of that.

I'd say he did more of an OK job of that, but I agree. He didn't flee into hiding, write a tell-all "what really happened" book and start hob-nobbing with B-list celebrities on the party circuit. The man ran for office, dedicated his life to public service and tried to make this country a better place to live in. His accomplishments are legion, and has managed to do enough good to last five lifetimes. If even have of Congress had Ted's integrity we'd be light years ahead of where we are now. Speculation, sure, but what I do know is, the man spent the past four decades committed to his country, and brought about significant positive changes to the way we live. So if the "on the other hand, Chappaquidick" crowd could kindly dial it down a notch I'd be delighted.

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posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 9:23 AM on August 26, 2009


Anybody who thinks it's understandable to let someone drown and okay should seek psychiatric help. Immediately

Some of us have been in life-or-death full-on-panic situations. I have, more than once. Have you?

People who seem solid as a rock lose all judgment in such situations, and nervous Nellies can rise to leadership roles in a second.

Finding something "understandable" is a funny criterion diagnose someone with a mental illness. I find many things understandable that I also find abhorrent. I find it abhorrent, but understandable, that angry young men (and increasingly women) turn to terrorism. I find it repugnant, but understandable, that nations develop nuclear weapons programs.

Your accusation, like those of several other above, is that those of us eulogizing Senator Kennedy in positive terms are excusing, ignoring, or overlooking Chappaquidick. That's a disingenuous premise. Your argument boils down to this: if someone does something very bad, their character must be evil. Senator Kennedy's entire life after Chappaquidick is mostly a testament to the contrary argument. Some people who do bad things are evil, but not only evil people do bad things.

You are perfectly entitled to deny Senator Kennedy any measure of redemption, but not at the expense of characterizing the arguments of his celebrators disingenuously.
posted by fourcheesemac at 9:25 AM on August 26, 2009 [34 favorites]


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posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 9:30 AM on August 26, 2009


Here's the question: regarding Chappaquidick, was it ever proven he was actually intoxicated?

Anyone?
posted by grubi at 9:30 AM on August 26, 2009


Big men have big flaws.

This is a little too close to a "boys will be boys" dismissive fatalism for me. It isn't inevitable that those who accomplish great things in their lives will also do heinous things.

As someone said up thread, it really isn't our place to forgive Ted Kennedy for murdering Mary Jo Kopechne. But I don't think that means we should consider Chappaquadick accident as something that Ted Kennedy fully atoned for, either. I can't get past the fact that he cost a young woman her life. (Not to mention that she seemed to have been a very able person, who had worked in the Civil Rights movement and on the Kennedy campaigns. Who knows what she would have accomplished poltically if she had lived?)

Ted Kennedy made a series of irresponsible, selfish and cowardly choices that night in 1969 and killed a woman as a result. Ted Kennedy was an excellent senator who was instrumental in passing legislation that changed millions of people's lives for the better. Neither of these two facts cancels out the other, and both of them must be included in any summation or treatment of his life.
posted by orange swan at 9:31 AM on August 26, 2009 [10 favorites]


On April 3rd, 1968, Martin Luther King delivered his Promised Land speech which culminated in "I've seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land." King was referencing Moses, who after many years in the wilderness, came to a mountain overlooking Israel, but died before entering. The day after King delivered the speech, he was assassinated.

Lincoln, who strove so valiantly to reunite the country was killed just five days after Lee surrendered at Appomattox.

Obama's grandmother who had shepherded him as a child, died on the eve of his election.

God, who I sometimes believe in, takes great people away just before they can experience the final victory. Kennedy brought us to the border of the promised land, it is up to us to enter. Health care reform will pass in his honor, but not in his presence.

Has anybody here seen my old friend Teddy?
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 9:32 AM on August 26, 2009 [7 favorites]


I guess Sen. Ted Kennedy wanted to stay at his brother's old desk rather than get a front row seat.

Clearly he chose his brother's desk, but as I understand it, they move (and right now one side has sixty where the other has forty). And if front row seats are so important, how did Kirsten Gillibrand or Roland Burris get one? Other than the leaders and whips, who are front and center, it's not clear there's a rhyme or reason beyond which side of the aisle.

I hope they pass something and name it after him. Secondarily, I hope it's worth the honor.

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posted by dhartung at 9:33 AM on August 26, 2009


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posted by gwyn at 9:33 AM on August 26, 2009


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posted by spilon at 9:34 AM on August 26, 2009


God, who I sometimes believe in, takes great people away just before they can experience the final victory.

You forgot the original: Moses died before crossing into the Promised Land.
posted by RussHy at 9:35 AM on August 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


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posted by eyeballkid at 9:37 AM on August 26, 2009


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posted by Smart Dalek at 9:37 AM on August 26, 2009


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posted by Lynsey at 9:40 AM on August 26, 2009


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posted by Astragalus at 9:43 AM on August 26, 2009


Good riddance
posted by shoos

What a pimp.
posted by L0


Stay classy, guys.

Fucking assholes.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 9:43 AM on August 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


Here's the question: regarding Chappaquidick, was it ever proven he was actually intoxicated?

Do you realize how deeply ironic this question is?
posted by Bookhouse at 9:47 AM on August 26, 2009


I wrote a big reply to you fourcheesemac, but why argue for the sake of arguing? I don't think you're going to drown anybody and not report it to police, and your opinion on Kennedy seems level-headed enough. You're not denying that he did a bad thing. So, if you want to make a bust of his head for your lawn and put a garland around it, I support your right to do that.
posted by anniecat at 9:48 AM on August 26, 2009


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posted by Stewriffic at 9:49 AM on August 26, 2009


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posted by kookaburra at 9:49 AM on August 26, 2009


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posted by gurple at 9:50 AM on August 26, 2009


Hide your golf clubs from blucevalo. He gets really upset when someone doesn't share his opinion of the Kennedys. Thanks for being the security guard/bouncer in this thread. What would the Kennedys do without their fans who cannot for the life of them qualify the Kennedy character as someone who was capable of doing a very, very, very bad thing.

Actually, I was more "upset" at your bizarre rant about the Kennedys having gotten away with murder before AND THEY WILL AGAIN IF YOU DON'T WATCH OUT!!!!!11!! but whatever.

I don't excuse Kennedy for Chappaquiddick. If that's what you think is the moment that defines his life, then we'll have to disagree.
posted by blucevalo at 9:51 AM on August 26, 2009


God, who I sometimes believe in, takes great people away just before they can experience the final victory.

"...Teddy "took a long, slow gulp of his vodka and tonic, thought for a moment, and changed tack. 'I'm glad I'm not going to be around when you guys are my age.' I asked him why, and he said, 'Because when you guys are my age, the whole thing is going to fall apart.' "" (source)
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 9:52 AM on August 26, 2009


I hope right wingers take their cue from her... but probably won't.

They could take their cue from left-wingers, instead.
posted by Kwantsar at 9:58 AM on August 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


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posted by cmyk at 10:00 AM on August 26, 2009


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posted by Ber at 10:00 AM on August 26, 2009


seconding fourcheesemac

The guy's gone, he cannot now be prosecuted. So everyone who's only drumming up Chappaquaddick here are simply beating a dead senator. I suspect that no one still alive knows exactly what happened that night, anyways. Except for anniecat and b_thinky, apparently. Were you folks too busy recording the event to help, either?



Thanks, Senator.

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posted by Artful Codger at 10:03 AM on August 26, 2009


Kwantsar: derail much?
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 10:07 AM on August 26, 2009


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posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:08 AM on August 26, 2009


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posted by Pax at 10:09 AM on August 26, 2009


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posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 10:10 AM on August 26, 2009


A friend of mine was for a long time a good source of often-accurate, little-known political information.

Here's what he told me about Chappaquaddick - for what it's worth.

Kennedy appeared at the party with another woman, not Mary Jo. Mary Jo sees her and has hysterics. She leaves the party and passes out in Kennedy's back seat. Kennedy and the other woman go off, drunk driving - drive the car into the water, get out not realizing they had an extra passenger, and then go back to the party. At a certain point, someone says, "Where's Mary Jo?" and they realize what has happened...

No comments on its veracity but it's certainly an interesting story.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 10:11 AM on August 26, 2009


To everyone bringing up Chappaquiddick in this guy's obit thread, I want you all to give yourselves a big pat on the back for being such classy people.
posted by mullingitover at 10:18 AM on August 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


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posted by Unioncat at 10:19 AM on August 26, 2009


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posted by MythMaker at 10:22 AM on August 26, 2009


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posted by Senator at 10:23 AM on August 26, 2009


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posted by SkylitDrawl at 10:26 AM on August 26, 2009


Fair enough, anniecat. I don't have a lawn and I don't generally favor statues or garlands for anyone. I do, however, favor civil rights, equal opportunity, fair employment laws, funding for the arts, and the provision of health care to all, and on these and many other issues I consider questions of life or death, justice and injustice, right and wrong, Senator Kennedy has been a consistent champion -- and an effective and eloquent one -- for 40 years. A fuckup who really fucked up big time at Chappaquidick, he has nonetheless been a huge force for change I consider not only good, but morally necessary.

But I get where you're coming from. I like to think I would extend the same courtesy to a lion on the right on the occasion of his death, but truthfully, I remember feeling no sadness the day Reagan died, and I was an angry young man with far more simplistically leftist views than I hold today. I hated Reagan. I can still summon the feeling, but it no longer feels appropriate. I can see his appeal in hindsight, and I've had too many friends who saw good in him to simply dismiss the basis of his popularity. On balance, I still judge his contribution to be profoundly negative, on balance, but I no longer think the man was simply evil, just profoundly simplistic (nor do I think this about George W. Bush, whom I think of as profoundly weak).

Anger and hatred have their inescapable (because we're animals) place in human social life, and thus in our politics. I'm not one to carry on about chilling out, as I can summon an enraged reaction to things I consider outrageous in a heartbeat.

But it's good to let go of hate once its cause has receded to become history, is all I'm saying, except for the most grievous transgressions of the human social contract -- people who kill, torture, or oppress others with willful and conscious intent, out of malice. Causing a death by being weak or stupid, and then attempting to escape full accountability for it out of panic and fear, is not the same thing as malice. We each would like to think we'd be better than that in the same situation, and that we'd never get into that situation. We each had best hope we never find out.

I feel like saying this:

I've witnessed two deaths caused by vehicle accidents close up and personal in my life, one just last year (and a child), the other 7 or 8 years ago (an elderly man). In both cases I wound up as the effective first responder, and both were hopeless situations, and gruesome too. I have no medical training, and am not even confident in my basic CPR skills (I've been trained, but it's been a long time). In both situations I was overwhelmed with a powerful desire to pull back, even run away, accompanied by an urge to vomit at the blood and gore and a feeling of paralysis as I approached the victim. Both times, I was shaking. In neither situation did I actually do anything that made a difference other than hold my ground and try to manage the panic of others while paramedics were summoned. CPR wasn't appropriate in either case, although I can't say I decided that rationally in the moment, even if it happened to be true in retrospect (I did what the 911 operator instructed me to do in both cases). But I can imagine that had I had a *causal* and/or negligent role in either accident -- had I hit the old man chasing his dog into the street, or been the parent who let my child ride an ATV without a helmet -- I would not have been a paragon of ethical judgment, and that the panic I felt as a mere unlucky bystander in both situations would have been a thousand times worse and more compelling of flight and denial.

Those were both accidents, of course. And a lot hinges on whether you view the triggering event here to be an accident or a matter of fault. I see it as an accident, compounded by the actions of a man made weak by panic and fear for his own life (not his career -- if you've ever been in a sudden life or death situation, you know you do not think about your career for one second).

But that very human moment became a symbol, a story to sell campaigns and raise money, and to fight proxy wars over political values. And thus it became a brittle ideological litmus test to interpret it one way or another. The world is full of people who did a bad or stupid thing in their past, even a criminal thing, who have accomplished enough to have their lives "defined" by more than their crime or their mistake.
posted by fourcheesemac at 10:27 AM on August 26, 2009 [29 favorites]


blucevalo, I think you've mistaken me for someone else or misunderstood what I said. I didn't say they'd do it again. I said they wouldn't ever be allowed to do it again the way they were able to in the old days. I don't really feel all that strongly about him either which way.

I think we both misunderstood each other. Thanks for pointing it out. Sorry about the earlier comment.
posted by anniecat at 10:28 AM on August 26, 2009


On preview, fourcheesemac expressed it far more eloquently. But adding my opinions into the thoughtstream here.

It did seem odd to me that Mary Jo Kopechne was in the back seat.

Ted Kennedy said, in referring to Richard Nixon's being pardoned for his part in Watergate, "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?"

I do think the reality is that he, of all people should know, there is, to some extent and not always, but quite commonly, one law for the average citizen and one for the high and mighty.

"The evil that men do lives after them,The good is oft interred with their bones"

Because of the 10-hour lag in reporting the accident, Kennedy's blood alcohol levels were never tested.

Though no autopsy was ever done, her [Kopechne's] alcohol level was .09 percent, according to records at the time, about the equivalent of three to five drinks.

"Yet, in all fairness, it must be stated at the outset that one of the theses of this book is that Senator Kennedy and his associates had no evil intent, no thought of committing murder or causing a death... "

Even though it seems logical that alcoholic Ted Kennedy was guilty of driving under the influence, reckless behavior, accidental manslaughter in the death of Mary Jo Kopechne, involved in a corrupt, deceitful cover up of the accident, also involved in protecting his nephews William Kennedy Smith and Michael Skakel from the swift punishment it seems logical they deserve; even though he did not provide a good, social behavior role model for his relatives, I still know he accomplished extraordinary, positive achievements in his life. Neither erases the other. The good and the bad are part of the big picture of this man, or any person's life story.

I don't think there is a single person posting in this thread who has not practically, significantly benefited from Senator Kennedy's life as a politician in any number of ways from his work on raising the minimum age, to lowering the voting age, to civil rights. I don't think his greatness as a politician deletes his bad actions or his lapses of morality. But, like fourcheesemac, I do think Ted Kennedy redeemed himself socially and politically with his political actions, decade after decade with the good he brought into the world.
posted by nickyskye at 10:38 AM on August 26, 2009 [3 favorites]


This story actually made me start crying just now. What an amazing man. Of all the problems he could have taken on, I'm sure there were many more important, and yet look at this...
posted by bitter-girl.com at 10:41 AM on August 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


>Um, no. Don't go down this path, please.

Please yourself.


Dude, I'm just saying that maybe blaming the victim doesn't strike me as a particularly intelligent approach to the Chappaquiddick subject, and it borders pretty freaking close to an outright derail. But hey, if you want to wave that banner, don't let a silly thing like common sense stop you.
posted by shiu mai baby at 10:44 AM on August 26, 2009


Kennedy appeared at the party with another woman, not Mary Jo. Mary Jo sees her and has hysterics. She leaves the party and passes out in Kennedy's back seat. Kennedy and the other woman go off, drunk driving - drive the car into the water, get out not realizing they had an extra passenger, and then go back to the party. At a certain point, someone says, "Where's Mary Jo?" and they realize what has happened...

No comments on its veracity but it's certainly an interesting story.


Unverified stories that contradict all on-record versions of the story and place the blame on the victim are in sort of bad taste, yo.
posted by Bookhouse at 10:47 AM on August 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


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posted by Lutoslawski at 10:50 AM on August 26, 2009


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posted by nevercalm at 10:50 AM on August 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


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posted by robstercraw at 10:56 AM on August 26, 2009


My argument isn't that Teddy was evil; just that Chappaquidick was the defining moment of his life, both in terms of his character and in how his career ultimately shaped up.

I don't care that Teddy cheated on his wife or drove drunk (in 1969 DUIs weren't as taboo as today). What I do care is that he left the woman to die in order to save his own skin. The adjective we hear over and over today is Lion, which suggest someone brave, noble, respectable, and so on. But when it really counted, Teddy Kennedy slipped off into the night. That's not much of a lion at all. I also think it's worth mentioning that after his role in Mary Jo's death, he didn't really clean up his act for another 20+ years.

In terms of career, Chappaquidick tainted him in the eyes of many Americans, which many say dimmed his hopes for the White House. This ended up freeing him from national polls and allowed him to push his liberal agenda for the Democrats with no downside. It allowed him to become the bully his party needed.

There's no doubt he accomplished many great things in his life and career. Nobody can dispute this, whether or not they agree with his politics. So, no, Teddy Kennedy is not an evil or bad person. But you can't mention his name without invoking Chappaquidick, the defining moment of his life.
posted by b_thinky at 11:00 AM on August 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


I've never heard any of his adversaries describe Teddy Kennedy's legislative style as "bullying." Today the airwaves are full of Republicans calling him a dear friend in spite of ideological differences.
posted by fourcheesemac at 11:01 AM on August 26, 2009


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posted by canadia at 11:02 AM on August 26, 2009


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posted by lucyleaf at 11:04 AM on August 26, 2009


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posted by imperium at 11:06 AM on August 26, 2009


As a Massachusetts resident, I just hope that we will get a replacement for Kennedy that votes half as well as he did. I know we won't replace his influence, but I at least hope for the votes.
posted by haveanicesummer at 11:08 AM on August 26, 2009


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posted by jock@law at 11:11 AM on August 26, 2009


Chappaquidick was the defining moment of his life

BULL. SHIT.

I see the moments he spent forging and passing legislation which improved every American's life, yours included as far more defining of the man.

Any chance you folks so keen to turn this thread into a Chappaquidick retrospective could start a MeTa thread or something and keep the ghoulish derail out of this conversation?
posted by EatTheWeak at 11:13 AM on August 26, 2009 [6 favorites]


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posted by Think_Long at 11:14 AM on August 26, 2009


also, a good obit post. thanks for doing a bit of research beforehand
posted by Think_Long at 11:15 AM on August 26, 2009


although, orchedraco, I personally would have appreciated it if hulk-marg had made an appearance raging against the inevitability of death
posted by Think_Long at 11:18 AM on August 26, 2009


I don't think it's a derail, EattheWeak, as much as I disagree with making it "the defining moment" of Senator Kennedy's life.

It's an important part of his life story, a certain black mark on an otherwise strong record, but more than that, it's a lesson in precisely the opposite lesson its invocation is supposed to summon.

We're supposed to learn from the "but what about Chappaquidick?" position that Ted Kennedy was a bad man whose life was defined by one terrible night on which he Fucked Up Royally and acted like a spoiled chicken. But the other lesson is worth emphasizing, and it's the obvious one that leads some of us who have fucked up once or twice in life (/looks around, seeing who is going to cast the first stone) can make things right by doing good things when we are lucky enough to be forgiven, to escape, to get a second chance, etc.

I really continue to dispute the sureness with which some people imagine they would act in a car sinking into a river, with their own lives in the balance, and inebriated to boot. Kennedy appears to have acted in a cowardly way, but I've got news for you: most humans are cowards when they think they're going to die.
posted by fourcheesemac at 11:24 AM on August 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


I have a certain amount of pity those who feel entitled and/or driven to harp on Sen. Kennedy's life and death -- because it seems clear to me that anyone not fundamentally moved by the redemption and accomplishments of his life have not had the benefit of any such moment of transformation. The mistakes and the choice of redemption don't need to be writ large; you don't have to have experienced the many tragedies of Teddy Kennedy's life to understand how rare and beautiful it is for someone to transform that kind of pain into the kind of personal growth Sen. Kennedy clearly demonstrated.

Anyway, the story I've been encouraged to share here is quick one, and has absolutely nothing to do with any of the aforementioned.

When I was 8, my parents took my brother and I on our first trip to Washington, D.C. I remember being enchanted by a lot of what I saw there, but at the same time, bored stiff -- an oscillation manic/disinterested that will be familiar to many who were once 8.

I remember experiencing the Capitol building as impressively vast, full of echoes, clearly very old in comparison to myself. But looking at the program guide for the building, I found very, very little that seemed up my alley. For some reason, the one thing that WAS, was the Hall of Statues. I think I was excited about seeing statues of people I'd learned about from American history.

My parents weren't as interested and wanted to make their way around the building, methodically, slowly. At some point, I broke free and ran ahead.

Running along a curved corridor for quite some time (in child minutes), I began to despair of finding the vaunted Hall of Statues. So, I asked the first person I saw for directions. The tall, suited, grey-haired man looked down at me with a smile and took me as seriously as anyone ever had, giving me very detailed directions, which I asked him to repeat once, which he graciously obliged. I thanked him and was about to set off for the HALL OF STATUES YIPPEEE when my parents caught up with us.

I heard my Mom gasp and then introduce herself and my Dad with "Hi, we're from Massachusetts." I don't recall what was discussed after that, and I had no idea what had happened or who this nice man was until later when my parents broke it down for me.

And only later in life when I began to really appreciate the Kennedy story and then yet later when I saw Ted speak during my time at UMASS Boston, did I appreciate how lucky I was to meet him before my head was filled with the Kennedy legend -- both its ups and downs. I may never again meet a truly great human without the weight of ego, expectation, or celebrity affecting our interaction. I'll remember Kennedy both for his political accomplishments -- without which I truly would not recognize this country -- and for the fact that he was one of the few people I'm aware of in human history to hold onto his decency even with the kind of power and attention that he and the rest of his family were given. He was decent enough, at least, to make time to share his knowledge of the US Capitol with an excited, irreverent little kid, respectful of my humanity even though I was 8 and silly. Thank you, Ted. On your behalf I will redouble my efforts for health care.
posted by Embryo at 11:24 AM on August 26, 2009 [24 favorites]


"He saved my life. He could have spent his time doing anything," Jessica Katz said. "He's from the fanciest, most powerful family in Massachusetts, and probably in the country, and he decided to spend his time helping out me and my family." - from Bitter-girl.com's link.
posted by dirtdirt at 11:26 AM on August 26, 2009 [3 favorites]


Dude, I'm just saying that maybe blaming the victim doesn't strike me as a particularly intelligent approach to the Chappaquiddick subject, and it borders pretty freaking close to an outright derail. But hey, if you want to wave that banner, don't let a silly thing like common sense stop you.

Yes, you're absolutely right, I have very little common sense to rhetorically suggest that someone could influence her own future through a poor decision, because that would mean I was absolving all other parties of responsibility by default. Shame on me for applying nuance to a black-and-white situation.
posted by zennie at 11:27 AM on August 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


But you can't mention his name without invoking Chappaquidick, the defining moment of his life.

I can, and I will.
posted by blucevalo at 11:28 AM on August 26, 2009 [4 favorites]


> My argument isn't that Teddy was evil...

You're arguing in this thread? How old are you?

Geez.
posted by msittig at 11:31 AM on August 26, 2009 [4 favorites]


ugh and I have a certain amount of pity for basic rules of grammar and proofreading.
posted by Embryo at 11:32 AM on August 26, 2009


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posted by hooha at 11:35 AM on August 26, 2009


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posted by mzanatta at 11:38 AM on August 26, 2009


Kennedy may have been driving drunk and his reckless driving clearly led to the death of a young woman. This was a terrible thing for Kennedy to have done.

But what is a much more terrible thing is what Kennedy did after that. He spent most of the next forty years trying to do things to improve the lives of other people. He had a particular penchant for trying to help people who were not able to make considerable campaign contributions.

The event from 1969 clearly should have precluded Kennedy from making any effort to become a better person over his next forty years or to do any good. His actions from 1969 should have prevented him from holding any job, or attempting to do favors for any people. He should have been legally required to not do anything good with his live or be nice to any people.

I am disgusted that such a man was ever allowed to do so much good in the world after he had obviously done wrong. I have heard of some freakish religions that concern themselves with redemption, forgiveness, and helping the poor. Obviously, such crazy notions have not crept into any Western religions.

Kennedy's life is a very important lesson that we are reminded of far too infrequently: If you do something wrong in your life, the actions you take from that point forward over the rest of your life are completely irrelevant to who you are.
posted by flarbuse at 11:48 AM on August 26, 2009 [83 favorites]


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posted by Industrial PhD at 11:52 AM on August 26, 2009


Hail and farewell.
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posted by whuppy at 11:53 AM on August 26, 2009


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posted by Webbster at 11:56 AM on August 26, 2009


My dad was a die-hard old school conservative who disagreed with probably 90% of what Ted Kennedy stood for, but even he had great admiration for the man, not only for his political acumen, but also for his lifelong commitment to working for the things he believed in. And though he loved Reagan, my dad always said that Kennedy was by far the most qualified man running for president in 1980.
posted by Atom Eyes at 12:01 PM on August 26, 2009


Orrin Hatch wrote a song
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 12:10 PM on August 26, 2009


It might be a good idea to thank Senator Hatch for his tribute and suggest that supporting a public insurance option might also be a good tribute.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 12:11 PM on August 26, 2009 [4 favorites]


I know it wasn't your intent flarbuse but your comment gave me a giggle as most attempts at illogical pop reverse psychology do. It was the inevitable next step in this thread that I expected but had hoped MeFites were above.

Cheers for lowering the bar.
posted by gnash at 12:22 PM on August 26, 2009


*work on raising the minimum wage
posted by nickyskye at 12:35 PM on August 26, 2009


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posted by boubelium at 12:35 PM on August 26, 2009


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posted by hillabeans at 12:36 PM on August 26, 2009


Like I said above, I think Kennedy's leadership in getting the US to pretty much abandon Thieu to his fate should overshadow his demonstrated lack of night driving skills 40 years ago.

A million times more human pain and suffering was weighed in the balance and paid by the Vietnamese on that one.

I'm conflicted about it; Nixon sold Thieu out in late 1972 but after spending over a hundred billion in the 1960s we sure got parsimonious in 1973-74, reducing military aid such that ARVN couldn't adequately operate to its capabilities, and Sen Kennedy was one of the drivesprings of that, even going to the extent to oppose funding of Thieu's national civil police (which were in fact paramilitary). The events of 1975 caught everyone by surprise and the Democrats didn't come out of that episode covered in glory, unless one believes that the Saigon regime was a lost cause in the face of Hanoi's rather pronounced military and strategic advantages it secured in the "peace" settlement of 1973.
posted by @troy at 12:38 PM on August 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


“Those who are saying "good riddance," have you no shame?”
Some people define propriety by whether they like/agree with someone or not and their personal opinions. Sometimes the same people who say "good riddance" in one obit thread will say "have you no shame" to others in another. Sucks.

“I hope right wingers take their cue from her... but probably won't.”

Yeah, those left wingers would never shit in a thread * rolls eyes*
But - moot point to dichotomize and compare, for me it’s completely inappropriate and wantonly incites abuse and response in any case.

But look, he cheated and got kicked out of Harvard. He was a drinker. He was a womanizer. He was more worried about sailing and golf than politics which was treated like more of a hobby. He was 37 when Chappaquidick happened. It’s not like he was a kid or there wasn’t a pattern there. He was a fuck up rich kid much like George Bush. That WAS his character.

But - the indefensible gross negligence and loss of human life there aside, I have to agree with Antidisestablishmentarianist (and orange swan, et.al) he did get a slap on the wrist and he did get a second chance and but it does seem like he dedicated his life to making amends and not wasting his life and fortune on hedonism. So his character – changed.
Although one could make the argument he did tend to screw things up on his first shot and then do well on his comeback.

It’s been my experience it’s not the hit you can defend but the hit you can take and what you can recover from that defines your character.
This was the latter part of his life. Whether one agrees with the brand of his public service or not - he was genuinely devoted to public service. I respect that.

He's being buried at Arlington. I can't say I'm completely on board with it, since his dad kept him out of the war, but then, I can't deny he was on the Committee on Armed Services and did a hell of a lot of work for the military on top of his years of public service so I can't say I'm against it.

And yes, you can be an utter horror of a human being or a coward or just a dick and be a great public figure and/or make great and significant contributions to society. And vice versa. Just speaking generally. Godel comes to mind.
posted by Smedleyman at 12:46 PM on August 26, 2009 [5 favorites]


Bless you, Ted. It's a very sad day.
posted by etaoin at 12:46 PM on August 26, 2009


I wish I had some personal story or anecdote, but all I really have is the memory of my gradual politicization as a teenager in suburban MA with his legacy to study and admire. He was something of a legend to me, if only because his enormous, near universal popularity and success puzzled and delighted.

There are a lot of reasons to be salty about the Kennedys. Hanging out with Bobby at Brown certainly didn't help any cynicism I had about them as entrenched politicos. But my god did Teddy have a capacity for personal growth that most of us can only dream of possessing. It's like he's even more beloved because he had issues, and he took responsibility for them. If there's anyone that can teach America forgiveness, maybe it's him.
posted by lunit at 12:55 PM on August 26, 2009


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posted by Outlawyr at 12:58 PM on August 26, 2009


Some people define propriety by whether they like/agree with someone or not and their personal opinions. Sometimes the same people who say "good riddance" in one obit thread will say "have you no shame" to others in another. Sucks.

Sad but true.
posted by notashroom at 1:02 PM on August 26, 2009


To those who've taken the time to post about his political legacy, thank you - many of us outside the US were unaware of that.

What a life - the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Whatever my personal feelings about Catholicism and dynastic politics (FWIW, new Australians also had pictures of JFK on their walls during my childhood), my sense in reading this thread is that intentionally or not, Ted Kennedy walked the talk about redemption and atonement and lived the principle, and was a true public servant.

An extraordinary man, and extraordinary life, and an extraordinary legacy.

Democracies need political giants of all political persuasions - what a pity they are such a rarity on all sides of the political spectrum.
posted by Lolie at 1:02 PM on August 26, 2009


Rename the Health Bill.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 1:16 PM on August 26, 2009


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That's a lot of dots.
posted by Artw at 1:17 PM on August 26, 2009


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posted by willpie at 1:17 PM on August 26, 2009


I really don't know much about Kennedy aside from what I've read in the obituaries today but no one can deny that the man worked very, very hard and got a lot done.

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posted by GuyZero at 1:33 PM on August 26, 2009


Did he not drive drunk with a woman dying as a direct result? Is there any question that he drove drunk with a woman dying as a direct result? And if I'm not wrong about that, then how is it "incredibly ignorant" to say that "he got drunk and killed a woman"?

First, just for the record, no one established he was drunk. You can look it up. Second, two people go off a narrow bridge--have you seen it? It's like a little path--in a car, and one gets out, one does not. That does not translate into murder. Did he run? Yes? Was it shameful? Yes, horribly so. Would any of us ever do something as bad? Yes. Do some people redeem themselves with the way they then live their lives? Yes, yes, yes.
posted by etaoin at 1:33 PM on August 26, 2009 [3 favorites]


I agree with those defending Kennedy that his legacy should be colored to a much greater extent by his legislative record than by Chappaquidick.

Hopefully I'm not dredging unnecessarily here, but I don't think this has been touched upon:

While Kennedy's life accomplishments after Chappaquidick are compelling, there's strong evidence that he never would have had the opportunity if he weren't a Kennedy in the first place. More precisely, I would think Teddy's story doesn't just wrangle because he may have acted criminally. It's very much because the law wasn't applied equally; his opportunity, while an example of triumphant reform, also stinks of injustice.

Perhaps it's easy for us to look at the rest of the narrative and think it was a fortunate happenstance. However, if you look at his voting record through more centrist-colored glasses, or if you think about how slanted justice has been extended to those of the last administration, it's easy to see the Kennedy persona in less favorable hues. Or how it reflects a part of our national politic that I choose not to celebrate.
posted by Reasonably Everything Happens at 1:37 PM on August 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


Hey, I like the guy, but you do have to kind of do all kinds of backflips and contortions to get away from the conclusion that he drunk drove with a woman who was not his wife and who he intended to have sex with, crashed the car resulting in her death, and acted rather sketchily in the aftermath.

He’s a Kennedy, that sort of thing happens.
posted by Artw at 1:40 PM on August 26, 2009


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posted by homuncula at 1:43 PM on August 26, 2009


This is the third photo in the NYTimes slide show. At this point, I can only see JFK and RFK as icons more than people. They’re instantly recognizable (the hair! the teeth!), weighted with symbolism (loss of innocence! political skullduggery!), and absolutely unchanging.

So clicking through the decades, getting to this picture, meant more to me than I expected. Ted lived long enough to create a vast and complicated legacy made up of his own actions, not just other people’s hopes and assumptions and delusions. He lived long enough to get old. I’m glad one of them did.
posted by dogrose at 1:44 PM on August 26, 2009 [4 favorites]


I think very few people are denying the provable aspects of Chappaquidick, or denying it was a bad thing. As has been said repeatedly, we can accept the terrible thing from 40 years ago, and the decades of tireless public service from that point on. It's not an either/or proposition.

However, if you look at his voting record through more centrist-colored glasses, or if you think about how slanted justice has been extended to those of the last administration, it's easy to see the Kennedy persona in less favorable hues.

Kennedy was probably able to skate because of his connections. The difference between him and whoever you're invoking from the Bush administration is that Kennedy went on to exemplify public service, as opposed to book deals, consulting gigs, and retirement.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 1:45 PM on August 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


anniecat: I would never, ever do anything like that, not to my worst enemy and not to a casual acquaintance.

You have absolutely no way to know what you would or wouldn't do. None. Get back to us once you've been in a car under seven feet of water, panicking, in danger of drowning, and there's another person in the back seat. Let us know how it goes.

b_thinky: You'd have a difficult time defending his actions. He drunkenly drove a car off a bridge and swam for safety.... What I do care is that he left the woman to die in order to save his own skin.

And were you in the car with them, between the "drove a car off a bridge" part and the "swam for safety" part? Did you see him try to rescue her? Did you watch his desperate attempts to get her out of the car before he felt himself running out of air, and swam for the surface so he wouldn't drown?

No, you didn't. And neither did I. Maybe he didn't think twice about her and he took off as fast as he could. Maybe he did everything within his power to help her before he had to get air. Neither of us will ever know what occurred in the car. What happened was horrible, and he is responsible, but it is in no way indefensible.
posted by tzikeh at 1:47 PM on August 26, 2009 [4 favorites]


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posted by cookie-k at 1:48 PM on August 26, 2009


:( i'm a new england girl, i actually want to cry.

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posted by eatdonuts at 1:52 PM on August 26, 2009


Maybe he did everything within his power to help her before he had to get air.

What is ultimately indefensible is what he did after he got air. He was on dry ground, and decided to leave her in the water. A decision, not under duress, not in the water, not drowning. She was in 7 feet of water, he could have tried to help again.

He did some great things after that day, but lets not be revisionist about what happened there. It was not something that can be rationalized into simply an accident, it was a cowardly act.
posted by Antidisestablishmentarianist at 1:57 PM on August 26, 2009 [3 favorites]


drink and women are quite mild vices

True, but he got drunk and killed a woman, dude.


He had a car accident because he was drunk, in which a woman died and he nearly did himself.

Not a man's finest hour, but accusing him of near murder is a little much.
posted by spaltavian at 1:58 PM on August 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


The Chappaquidick conversation is, apparently, impossible to have without people converting their suspicions into perceptions of fact (to link one example). Perhaps given 10 or so years, people will let go of their grudges, and we could actually analyze the facts and accept everything else as speculation.
posted by Embryo at 2:01 PM on August 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's not like he shot some dude in the face.
posted by Artw at 2:06 PM on August 26, 2009 [9 favorites]


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posted by washburn at 2:06 PM on August 26, 2009


You have absolutely no way to know what you would or wouldn't do. None. Get back to us once you've been in a car under seven feet of water, panicking, in danger of drowning, and there's another person in the back seat. Let us know how it goes.

Oh please. He was clearheaded enough to walk back to the party, fetch his friends, go back to the landing, find his hotel room, go to bed, call his friends in the morning to ask what he should say to the police, call the woman's parents without implicating himself....very calculated.

Trust me. There is no way in hell I would ever act the way he did. I would rather die trying to save my worst enemy's life than spend hours trying to figure out how I can save my own hide.

Does this mean he was a horrible person in all things? No. So move on, and if you want to put his picture over your mantel, go ahead. But honestly, most people HELP friends and strangers, and know that they have to do it or find someone who can help them. Why go back to the party and fetch friends instead of knocking on a random door where the light was on? Accept it. Fishy.
posted by anniecat at 2:07 PM on August 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


Some people define propriety by whether they like/agree with someone or not and their personal opinions. Sometimes the same people who say "good riddance" in one obit thread will say "have you no shame" to others in another. Sucks.

Yeah, that. I guess this is more metatalky, but I'm not going to harp on people bitching about Kennedy now when I know full well that, while I feel bad for her current state, I'm not going to feel bad at all about the absolute torrent of vitriol when Thatcher dies.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 2:09 PM on August 26, 2009 [3 favorites]


She was in 7 feet of water, he could have tried to help again.

He always said that he did. Just for the record.

I agree the accident was a horrible thing. He left her. But the sloppiness of language--he left her to die! He drove drunk--allows people to go far beyond what they know to be the facts.
Even if you believe one bad act condemns a person forever.
posted by etaoin at 2:12 PM on August 26, 2009


> Embryo: I stand corrected. He tried to dive down a few times, then left the scene and went home and went to bed instead of alerting authorities.

You did correct a factual mistake, if in my earlier post one substitutes "She was in seven feet of water, breathing from a pocket of air, had he gone for help instead of going home, she may well be alive today." for my erroneous assertion, it would still be an indefensible act, and now 100% factually accurate.

I hate when I make mistakes, but at least my citation error didn't kill anyone.
posted by Antidisestablishmentarianist at 2:12 PM on August 26, 2009


While Kennedy's life accomplishments after Chappaquidick are compelling, there's strong evidence that he never would have had the opportunity if he weren't a Kennedy in the first place.

Like so many things Kennedy, I think this is another case of good outcomes eventuating from cynical, self-serving motivations. From what I can piece together about the original Kennedy political platform, the issues chosen were populist and politically expedient - merely a means to obtain political power - but once that power base had been established and JFK assassinated Bobby and Ted came to actually believe in those issues and championed them as much out of personal conviction as political expediency.

Had Chappaquiddick never happened, would Ted Kennedy have become a political giant or would he have been the "failed Kennedy" who held grace and favour political office but did nothing with it? We can never know the answer to that question, but tragedy seems to have often been a turning point in that family.

Kennedy's political legacy does not cancel out the injustice, but few people who've benefited from privilege and injustice have gone on to establish a legacy which benefited so many - I've got to admire the man for that, whether it was motivated by Catholic guilt or personal conviction that redemption could only be found in doing as much good for as many others as possible.
posted by Lolie at 2:13 PM on August 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


Yeah, that. I guess this is more metatalky, but I'm not going to harp on people bitching about Kennedy now when I know full well that, while I feel bad for her current state, I'm not going to feel bad at all about the absolute torrent of vitriol when Thatcher dies.

I think, right or left, Kennedy and Thatcher are two completely different human beings. But even with someone like Thatcher, who fought to dismantle anything intended to help working, lower-middle-class and poor in her country (pretty much the opposite of Kennedy) I would hope would deserve an ounce of respect in an obit thread announcing her death. In Kennedy's case, we're talking about an incident from 40 years ago, followed by decades of tireless public service, and people still feel compelled to remind us of the THE TRUTH about Kennedy, as if celebrating his carreer were the same as denying Chappaquidick.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 2:17 PM on August 26, 2009 [4 favorites]


"But even with someone like Thatcher ..." that is.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 2:19 PM on August 26, 2009


The Thatcher thread really is going to be something.
posted by Artw at 2:27 PM on August 26, 2009


Amazing what a little partisanship will allow people to justify.
posted by Bookhouse at 2:29 PM on August 26, 2009


IMHO, Ted should have gone to jail for what happened, and much of the last 40 years should have been spent in prison rather than in public office. That isn't what happened.

Since his connections got him a break, I think it is very right that he dedicated his life to public service, and did an exceptional job of it, when he got to that point.

I think a good man has passed on, but the last 40 years were as much Mary Jo's as his. So, we should celebrate his life, but we can't forget his past. Both are his legacy.
posted by Antidisestablishmentarianist at 2:30 PM on August 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


.

At this point, I can only see JFK and RFK as icons more than people. They’re instantly recognizable (the hair! the teeth!), weighted with symbolism (loss of innocence! political skullduggery!), and absolutely unchanging.

I've always felt a little bit sorry for Teddy Kennedy because of this. His brothers are eternally young and handsome and he got old and jowly. All three of his brothers died violent deaths at a young age (Joe Jr. died in a plane crash in World War II), so he had plenty of tragedy in his personal life and would never rise to the political heights his brothers did.
posted by kirkaracha at 2:35 PM on August 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


Boy, anniecat, if a person being responsible for one death gives you that much of an axe to grind with them, you'll probably drop dead with rage when Thatcher, Bush, or Cheney die.
posted by rodgerd at 2:37 PM on August 26, 2009 [10 favorites]


I actually wept this morning when I heard the news. I don't know why, I wasn't personally connected to him or any of the Kennedy family...but it just seemed like the country lost something.

A . indeed. It seems paltry given all that he did for the downtrodden.
posted by dejah420 at 2:38 PM on August 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


so he had plenty of tragedy in his personal life and would never rise to the political heights his brothers did.

It seems to me he got higher, in terms of the impact he had on day-to-day lives, than JFK did.
posted by rodgerd at 2:39 PM on August 26, 2009 [4 favorites]


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posted by St. Sorryass at 2:40 PM on August 26, 2009


Joe Jr. died bombing a V3 supergun aimed at London - that's a pretty cool way to go out.
posted by Artw at 2:41 PM on August 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


Both are his legacy.

GMAFB. What happened in 1969 is no more Kennedy's legacy than the poor sod Laura Bush sideswiped in 1963 is hers. It is an important part of his bio, and his character and political development, or lack thereof, but focusing on it is just . . . retarded, part of the negative politics of character assassination, the "live boy or dead girl" titillation.

It is where small minds are compelled to go to attack the man. Bravo on that.
posted by @troy at 2:45 PM on August 26, 2009 [4 favorites]


I can't really say anything on this that wasn't eloquently summarized by fourcheesemac and orange swan. Together they make up a great response to Ted Kennedy's death.

Every person deserves a chance at redemption, but also deserves judgment for the whole of their actions. There is no such thing as "canceling out" the negatives with the positives.

I really have a respect level close to 0 for anyone evoking Mary Jo as a weapon against an opponent. However, I have the same close to 0 respect level for anyone evoking Ted Kennedy as a weapon against their opponents, especially to push through their agenda. I've seen this from both political sides today, the same 24 hours the good man drew his last breath.

Judge the results of his actions apart from the man. Did he benefit society?
Judge the man and his personal life apart from the politics. Was he a good man?

As for me, I refuse judgment. I believe, same as Sen. Kennedy, that there's only one judgment that matters. And it surely doesn't come from any of us.
posted by TheFlamingoKing at 2:47 PM on August 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


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posted by tits mcgee at 2:47 PM on August 26, 2009


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posted by papafrita at 2:53 PM on August 26, 2009


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posted by m0nm0n at 2:57 PM on August 26, 2009


.

Thank you, Senator, for spending your life lending a voice to those who are sometimes ignored or forgotten. You will be missed.
posted by belvidere at 3:00 PM on August 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


But even with someone like Thatcher, who fought to dismantle anything intended to help working, lower-middle-class and poor in her country (pretty much the opposite of Kennedy) I would hope would deserve an ounce of respect in an obit thread announcing her death.

I despise everything Margaret Thatcher stood for politically, but I cannot help but admire her relentless pursuit of the political ideals in which she believed. I think the sheer force of political will displayed by politicians like her is a thing of the past and that democracies around the world are poorer for losing representatives who believe so wholeheartedly in their ideal (even if I believe those ideals to be wrong).

As with Kennedy, you do not have to like her politics to acknowledge and respect her conviction and the impact she had on the political landscape.
posted by Lolie at 3:07 PM on August 26, 2009


I found this story about Ted Kennedy bringing a big bag of soil from Arlington Cemetery on the plane to Yitzhak Rabin's funeral really touching.
What a devastating loss. I'm so grateful for all the work he's done for people with disabilities, families with low incomes, etc. I wish we had more senators like him.

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posted by sophie at 3:09 PM on August 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


@troy: Since you called me out as a "small mind" I thought I'd make one last post.

I agree wholeheartedly with most of what senator Ted Kennedy did, most of his positions, initiatives, etc.

My concern stems from empathizing with immigrant parents that lost their only daughter to the callous decisions of someone who had the power to get away with it. Democrat or republican, I find that kind of thing wrong and repugnant.

I've said above: A good man that probably got away with a bad thing has died. How that makes me a retarded small mind bent on carachter assassination, I have no idea.
posted by Antidisestablishmentarianist at 3:20 PM on August 26, 2009 [3 favorites]


As with Kennedy, you do not have to like her politics to acknowledge and respect her conviction and the impact she had on the political landscape.

If I had to write her obit thread, I'd probably focus more on her humble beginnings and the fact that she's the only woman to have chaired the Conservative Party and been the PM than on her impact on the political landscape and her convictions. I don't necessarily see conviction as a positive thing. I mean, Bush was pretty convinced what he was doing was right, too, and boy did his adminstration leave an impact. Having said that, I can't imagine the amount of drive it takes for a woman to run for office, within a conservative party especially. And some of her bon mots are unintentionally hilarious.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 3:23 PM on August 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


This afternoon I read the short Chappaquiddick chapter in Adam Clymer's 1999 bio of the man. There is no way on earth you can dance around the despicable behavior and cowardice Kennedy displayed on that night. Had the police not avoided a serious investigation because of who he was, there's very little doubt the driver of that car would have been jailed and charged with manslaughter. That said, it's worth quoting Neofelis' dad above one more time:

I was as outraged back then as any wingnut blogger is today that he got off scot-free from what should've been at the least a case of vehicular homicide.

Sometimes things have a funny way of working out, though. In the years since he drove the Olds and Mary Jo into the drink, Teddy transformed himself from a lightweight playboy into one of the most effective -- and driven -- champions of the underdog in the history of the Senate. Coincidence? Catholic school-boy guilt working itself out? Or successful passage through a true dark night of the soul, with a far better man emerging at the end?

posted by mediareport at 3:25 PM on August 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


In many ways things may be better for "minorities" and women then they were when I was growing up in the 60s and 70s. All thanks to the liberals of that time.

But I still feel like true liberalism and the liberal wing of the Democratic Party died today. There is no one in the Democratic Party with the stature of Teddy who will advocate truly liberal policies. There may be politicians who feel as strongly about all the kinds of issues he fought for, but they have been intimidated into staying in their centrist/righty closets.
posted by NorthernLite at 3:29 PM on August 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


That's classy (and I'm no Nancy fan...). I hope right wingers take their cue from her... but probably won't.

Conservative commentator Andrew Breitbart Unleashes A Torrent Of Invective Against Sen. Ted Kennedy’s Legacy On Twitter.
posted by ericb at 3:30 PM on August 26, 2009


Limbaugh Congratulates Himself On Kennedy Death Prediction.
posted by ericb at 3:32 PM on August 26, 2009


You know, amidst the hyperbole, it should be said that a lot of people have killed other people in stupid accidents, by acting carelessly or with cowardice, or under the influence of alcohol or too little sleep or texting. Except in egregious cases, and certainly until the national consciousness about drunk driving was raised significantly in the 1980s and 90s, most of those people didn't go to jail, and if they did, it wasn't on murder charges, and was not for 40 years.

In addition to not denying that the Chappaquidick incident is an indelible black mark on Teddy Kennedy's overall record, I certainly don't deny that he was privileged and got away with things -- and received his great opportunities -- because he was born a Kennedy. I doubt very much he would deny it either, were he still alive to weigh in on the matter.

But he devoted the bulk of his life and energy over 30+ years -- half his time on earth -- to effectively extending opportunities to people without connections, righting injustices against people without money or a family name, working for a fairer and more truly meritocratic society, and saving the lives of working people.

There are genuinely bad people in the world, many of them in positions of power and influence, who act with malice and disingenuousness and a sense of entitlement in everything they do. I'm not inclined to eulogize anyone or overlook their flaws and faults just because they're dead. But the evidence in Ted Kennedy's case points to a man who came to consciousness about his own failings and flaws, a good friend to many of all political stripes, a compassionate man who was legendary for constituent service.

Had he gone to jail and had no political career, how would society have been better off again? How would justice be better served? How would Mary Jo Kopechne's family's wounds be healed?

It comes back to my original point in this discussion, which is that either you grant the possibility that a fundamentally good person will sometimes do bad things -- and sometimes those bad things will lead to terrible outcomes -- and still be entitled to earn some measure of redemption, or you don't. If you don't, you're an idealist, or a hard case, or blinded by hatred, or all of the above. If your own brother or father did what Ted Kennedy did at Chappaquidick, and then went on to make the contribution Kennedy has made to society, I think you'd find a way to nuance your response to his passing. Me, I couldn't get through the day thinking good people never fucked up or did selfish things. Every person I interact with would let me down too much to deal with them. Hell, I could never live with myself if I couldn't forgive my own transgressions with a pledge to be a better man the next time the situation arises.

Ted Kennedy turned his life around and did a world of good for many millions of people. His death is a loss for the country, even if he once did a terribly stupid and cowardly thing. Why is it hard to hold that slightly complex thought in one's head, and to regress to a single "definition" of a complex man and his long, varied career in public life, conducted overwhelmingly in good faith and with effective results for the better?

I might also point out that the modern understanding of addiction is that it is a disease, not a character flaw. It is a disease that brings out character flaws, to be sure. Some people learn that the very hard way, and Ted Kennedy was one.
posted by fourcheesemac at 3:38 PM on August 26, 2009 [13 favorites]


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posted by HabeasCorpus at 3:38 PM on August 26, 2009


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posted by DieHipsterDie at 3:47 PM on August 26, 2009


Given the discussion here I'm guessing Fox News has a piece on "Chappaquiddick: night of shame" in continous rotation right now?
posted by Artw at 3:48 PM on August 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


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posted by longsleeves at 3:49 PM on August 26, 2009


I withhold judgment on Senator Kennedy being "good' or "bad" since that's not my place, being an INTP and all.

I just object to the assertion that Chappaquiddick is "part of his legacy" he left to us.

That's plain bullshit framing of the man and his work, something that inevitably got wheeled out by his enemies whenever the man appeared.

You won't hear me harping on how Cheney went to ground after his recent hunting accident. This is an imperfect society and a certain amount of bullshit is unavoidable.
posted by @troy at 3:51 PM on August 26, 2009


Well, when Cheney goes the whole face-shooting thing would probably be the least of the bad things people could say about him.
posted by Artw at 3:55 PM on August 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


The probably-drunk probably-caused-the-guys-heart-to-stop face shooting, that is.
posted by Artw at 3:55 PM on August 26, 2009


Now, what would Bill Clinton's thread look like?
posted by Artw at 3:56 PM on August 26, 2009


Why is it hard to hold that slightly complex thought in one's head

F. Scott Fitzgerald: "The true test of a first-rate mind is the ability to hold two contradictory ideas at the same time."
posted by scody at 4:01 PM on August 26, 2009 [4 favorites]


@rmd1023: The Advertisement.
posted by vhsiv at 4:01 PM on August 26, 2009


Now, what would Bill Clinton's thread look like?

Curved a bit to the left.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 4:02 PM on August 26, 2009 [6 favorites]


I have no problem with people spewing invective in this, or any, obituary thread--it would be hypocritical of me, as I have danced on one or two graves on the blue in my time, firm in my belief that the person deserved it (and worse), and will likely do so in the future (I'm looking at you, Rush Limbaugh). But anyone who claims to "know" that Kennedy "killed" Mary Jo, or that his acts were those of a craven coward, can only look at it from the outside, and not from the inside of his mind during an overwhelming incident.

<semi-derail> I was thrown up against a wrought-iron fence and mugged at knife point. (No, I'm not saying that's anything like what happened to Kennedy and Kopechne. Bear with me.) After the criminal ran away with my purse, I got up off the pavement, started screaming and waving at passing cars, and when one stopped (driven by a large man, and I was a very little woman), I ran around and pulled open the passenger-side door, got into his car, and said "I was mugged and you have to take me to the police."

Dumbest thing I ever did? If not dumbest, then in the top three. But *in a moment of panic when my life was in danger*, that's where my mind went, and that's what I did.

I was no more "brave" than he was "cowardly;" rather, we were both extraordinarily stupid. It's hindsight that gives us the other adjectives. We weren't rational; we weren't calm. But calm is not what you are when you're in fear for your life.</semi-derail>

You define his life by that Chappaquiddick? Fine. You say it doesn't matter how much good he did afterwards? That's fine too. But let's not use terms like "murder" and "kill" unless we use them properly.
posted by tzikeh at 4:02 PM on August 26, 2009 [4 favorites]


That man was a simply awesome swimmer.
posted by Hovercraft Eel at 4:18 PM on August 26, 2009


That man was a simply awesome swimmer.
posted by Hovercraft Eel


Eponysterical.

posted by scody at 4:28 PM on August 26, 2009


“…but it is in no way indefensible.”

Well, except that was the exact word he used, that it was indefensible. And I think many of us have experiences that can lead us to believe that perhaps we would have more courage and integrity.

And indeed, I’ve been cast in quite a number of ways by people who have absolutely no knowledge of who I am or the specifics concerning my actions (other than being a veteran), so it’s hardly a rare thing that occurs here.

But again – indefensible as what happened at Chappaquiddick may have been, yeah, I think he straightened out. Willingly or otherwise.

“It is an important part of his bio, and his character and political development, or lack thereof, but focusing on it is just . . . retarded, part of the negative politics of character assassination, the "live boy or dead girl" titillation.”

Well, A. – ‘retarded’ –fuck you.

B. structurally, he didn’t have to worry about achievement anymore, which seemed to be something the Kennedy’s were really hung up on. And once that stopped getting in the way – let’s face it, once what happened at Chappaquiddick screwed his chances of being president – he could just do the job. And he did. I think it was crucial to his later political work. Why deny that? Why not accept it?

If anything, while I get that RFK and JFK are always going to be the young ideals, he got the chance to flesh out as a man. An actual man rather than being a symbol or some such which can be distorted or bandied about. He worked to make his own mark in a way other than merely seeking achievement for it’s own sake.

There’s a lot to be said for someone like that.

Because plenty of people walk right over the tragedies in their lives and never change or even recognize they may have been at all at fault.
And I think mediareport(‘s quote of Neofelis’s dad is right about Howard Johnson being right) has it about the ‘successful passage through a true dark night of the soul, with a far better man emerging at the end?’
It was probably the most crucial moment of his life. Something that probably lifted the veil from his eyes. He was a Kennedy on the shore. Waffling. A scion unsure of what to do without his wealthy family.
I think he can lay claim to everything that happened afterword - for good or ill.
And I'd have to say a while afterward, because it does take time to change.
But it's his. And all his.
I'm not sure you can say that about his life before Chappaquiddick. So if we're discussing the man, that would be an important focus of his life.

Snarky1/2wit on the subject notwithstanding of course.(But I say tomato...) And straight malignity, as I've said, I oppose in all obit threads as a matter of course.
posted by Smedleyman at 4:34 PM on August 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


The only time I got to see Ted Kennedy talk was at the Obama rally last year in Boston. I remember he started off giving us almost Google map directions of how he and Obama had gotten from Logan Airport to the World Trade Center. With every street and landmark that he listed off he got more passionate about it. I remember even back then he talked about health care reform. So if nothing else he was passionate about what he talked about and what he believed.
posted by lilkeith07 at 4:34 PM on August 26, 2009


If I, a total nobody, got loaded tonight and caused an accident in which somebody died, then fled the scene but 'fessed up several hours later, of course I'd be in a world of shit. There'd be serious legal repercussions of some kind, perhaps jail time, perhaps not. Maybe my lawyer could discover some negligence of the other driver or technicality that could get me off the hook, maybe not. In any case, this would fuck up my life for quite some time, maybe permanently, and I'd definitely have to move out of this town and probably state. Oh yeah, brother, I'd pay in spades for my poor choices, and I'd have to deal with the pains of my own conscience.

However, it's 100% certain that I would not have to live for the next 40 years with the constant awareness that pretty much every single person I ever met, anybody who ever heard a mention of my name, any time I did something interesting at work, anytime someone showed a photo of me ------ that everyone everywhere, forever, would know what I had done. And that even years and years after my death, pretty much any reference made to me would either overtly mention my offense or inadvertently cause people to remember it.

It doesn't much matter whether people "harp on" Chappaquiddick or not. Even if nobody in this thread or none of the obits had mentioned one word about it, we all know and we'd all remember. And because it does get mentioned frequently, every person who first heard of Ted Kennedy today now knows it too.

That might be exactly what he deserves, or not. It might strike you as nothing compared to jail time or losing a career, or as something worse. I don't know which would decimate me more. But if I knew that every single person who ever heard my name also knew in great detail about the worst thing I ever did, I'm not sure I'd be able to find the grit to get out of fucking bed day after day or maintain my grip on reality let alone carry on a highly public career.

An "ordinary" person who committed exactly the same acts might face life-ruining consequences and certainly would lack the privilege and power that allows Kennedys to work out their guilt by improving millions of lives. But even if you don't think he was penalized enough or in the right way, it's just daffy to suggest that someone whose screw-ups and moral failures are more widely known than Jeffrey Dahmer's got off "scot-free."
posted by FelliniBlank at 4:39 PM on August 26, 2009 [18 favorites]


Lighting a candle for Sen. Kennedy tonight, and thanking him for everything he did for my country... and for making me realize, with his loss, that I don't do enough.

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posted by OolooKitty at 4:56 PM on August 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


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posted by Mick at 5:27 PM on August 26, 2009


I have once spoken with a buddy of mine about Teddy, and upon mentioning his name, he mentioned the accident noted many times above, labeling him a murderer pretty much. This buddy is also pro-life, and thus his vote is naturally going to fall in that direction.

I never have said this to him, but I think it is worth stating it here: if you are this sort of person, labels yourself pro-life, votes in that fashion and holds this view of Teddy, you are telling me you can live this way, and grant a general election vote to the type of person who: If you can do this in the name of saving fetuses (and whatever other acts), then granting respect to an honorable person who died today, who despite his one flaw, did so much to eliminate the above problems and many more, should be a cake walk.
posted by JoeXIII007 at 5:28 PM on August 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


So, let me get this straight: Ted Kennedy makes a mistake and someone dies. He then spends the next 40 years atoning for this mistake and trying to redeem himself - working his ass off for the betterment of those worse off than him - and still people want to shit on his death and claim that that one incident defined him and his life??

Well fuck you very much.
posted by DieHipsterDie at 5:35 PM on August 26, 2009 [11 favorites]


So, let me get this straight: Ted Kennedy makes a mistake and someone dies. He then spends the next 40 years atoning for this mistake and trying to redeem himself - working his ass off for the betterment of those worse off than him - and still people want to shit on his death and claim that that one incident defined him and his life??

Well fuck you very much.
Hmm. I don't know exactly what whoever said "defining moment" meant by it, but it strikes me that if someone spends forty years atoning for, trying to redeem himself for, and working his ass off because of a single moment, then "defining moment of his life" doesn't seem like a bad way to describe that.

I mean, really, your description -- your description -- sure makes it seem like everything he did for forty years was based on and because of that moment, and that Kennedy quite possibly wouldn't have become the man he became if not for that moment.

That's not a "defining moment"?
posted by Flunkie at 5:52 PM on August 26, 2009 [3 favorites]


Jesus. Knock it off, you chowdah-heads. A little respect.

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posted by Kinbote at 6:01 PM on August 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


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posted by Jikido at 6:01 PM on August 26, 2009


I see your point, Flunkie, though I'm not sure who claimed that that event defined him meant it that way. I take it as what he did defines what type of person he is. i.e irresponsible.
posted by DieHipsterDie at 6:01 PM on August 26, 2009


"It's not like he shot some dude in the face."

Can we let that go already. The dude apologized for making the guy shoot him.
posted by Mitheral at 6:07 PM on August 26, 2009 [3 favorites]


Such a loss.

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posted by questionsandanchors at 6:27 PM on August 26, 2009


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posted by brandz at 6:27 PM on August 26, 2009


m>Had he gone to jail and had no political career, how would society have been better off again?

Might have suggested that there's one law for both rich and poor.

In another age, he would have resigned immediately and retired from public life, doing the penitential good works on the quiet. Maybe George Washington was an indispensable man, but not Mr K., however admirable one may find his record.
posted by IndigoJones at 6:39 PM on August 26, 2009


I just object to the assertion that Chappaquiddick is "part of his legacy" he left to us.

Actually, the chapter *after* the Chappaquiddick chapter in Clymer's bio talks about how the incident helped break the dam on media coverage of politicians' private lives. Clymer writes that in the week after Kopechne's death, Time and Newsweek started running stories about the rumors of Ted's "eye for the ladies" they wouldn't have dreamed of running the previous week. Suddenly, Clymer says, all the rumors were fair game.

"Part of his legacy," indeed.
posted by mediareport at 6:40 PM on August 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


Had he gone to jail and had no political career, how would society have been better off again?

(Live preview failure. My bad.)
posted by IndigoJones at 6:41 PM on August 26, 2009


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posted by kbanas at 6:45 PM on August 26, 2009


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posted by sister nunchaku of love and mercy at 6:47 PM on August 26, 2009


Maybe George Washington was an indispensable man, but not Mr K., however admirable one may find his record.

By that standard, nobody we've had in politics since 1799 is indispensable, is he/she?

Thought not.
posted by blucevalo at 7:14 PM on August 26, 2009


Did Chappaquidick change the course of his life? Yes... therefore, it was a defining moment for him. And therefore, it should be in the first paragraph of his biography.
posted by b_thinky at 7:16 PM on August 26, 2009


There's a difference between saying it was a defining moment and saying it was the defining moment. You don't seem to care about the distinction, because you use both interchangeably.
posted by blucevalo at 7:19 PM on August 26, 2009


orthogonality:And until 1991, I thought that had Ted's last name been "Smith", he wouldn't have retained both his freedom and his political career after contributing to Mary Jo Kopechne's death

Neofelis:I'm going to quote my dad about this, from a LiveJournal post he wrote about polititions in May of '08.
I was as outraged back then as any wingnut blogger is today that he got off scot-free from what should've been at the least a case of vehicular homicide.


Antidisestablishmentarianist:So, If Ted had been a nobody, he would most likely have gone to jail for some form of homicide. He wasn't a nobody, he had connections. He stayed a free and privileged man.

nickyskye:I do think the reality is that he, of all people should know, there is, to some extent and not always, but quite commonly, one law for the average citizen and one for the high and mighty.

Reasonably Everything Happens:While Kennedy's life accomplishments after Chappaquidick are compelling, there's strong evidence that he never would have had the opportunity if he weren't a Kennedy in the first place.

etc.

Drunk driving laws being what they were in 1969 he would have faced a fine at most if he had alerted the authorities immediately and subsequently tested positive for intoxication. Furthermore, most states required a BAL of 0.15 at that time, which is blind drunk.

I believe his 10 hour wait was meant to allow the alcohol to leave his system however I don't think he was worried about going to jail. I think he still believed that he could salvage his Presidential aspirations as long as he could show he wasn't drunk driving.
posted by Bonzai at 7:29 PM on August 26, 2009


Limbaugh Congratulates Himself On Kennedy Death Prediction.

What a despicable man!
posted by crossoverman at 7:30 PM on August 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


@Fcm>Had he gone to jail and had no political career, how would society have been better off again?

@IndigoJones>Might have suggested that there's one law for both rich and poor.

But we do have a class stratified justice system- and healthcare, education, and retirement and military systems too. Teddy Kennedy going tobjail for six months for vehicular homicide would no more change that than Bernie Madoff is doing so now.

See, what you're talking about is vengeance, an expression of political and personal disdain unsoftened by the risk of hypocrisy. Because, again, the fact is that as a senator, Ted Kennedy has done more to foster and protect Equal Justice Under the Law than any other person in Congress.

And again, this is not to excuse his privileged immunity. You see, there really is very little justice can do to deter human weakness. When a decent person does something indecent, s/he is punished by remorse. The only real justice that could come out of this tragedy would be that it changed its agent's priorities for the good.

Ted Kennedy's entire subsequent career *is* a form of justice. When you take a life by negligence or fail to save one by weakness and go to jail, you are paying back society in our culture's terms. You are not being retaliated against by your victim's kinfolk.

Don't you think this man has covered his debt to society or felt remors

@IndigoJones>In another age, he would have resigned immediately and retired from public life, doing the penitential good works on the quiet.

Really? What age would that be? Politicians fall through personal scandal more in the present than ever before. You think TK would have survived a modern media firestorm over Mjk's death? Look back at history, at those other ages, and see how many flawed persons we now whitewash as Great Americans. For crying out loud, Thomas Jefferson owned *slaves.*
posted by fourcheesemac at 7:41 PM on August 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


I believe his 10 hour wait was meant to allow the alcohol to leave his system however I don't think he was worried about going to jail. I think he still believed that he could salvage his Presidential aspirations as long as he could show he wasn't drunk driving.

I don't think that's true at all. The real threat to his presidential aspirations was the perception of him driving home late at night with a now-dead young woman after a private party.
posted by mediareport at 7:46 PM on August 26, 2009


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posted by pemberkins at 7:51 PM on August 26, 2009


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posted by thewittyname at 7:54 PM on August 26, 2009


"That the Kennedys had always been a family operating outside the perimeters of the sort of legal restrictions that bind other citizens to 'moral' behaviour publicly, is well known; no occasion so exemplifies this than Chappaquiddick ... One is led to think of Tom and Daisy Buchanan of Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, rich individuals accustomed to behaving carelessly and allowing others to clean up after them .... The poet John Berryman once wondered: 'Is wickedness soluble in art?'. One might rephrase, in a vocabulary more suitable for our politicized era: 'Is wickedness soluble in good deeds?' This paradox lies at the heart of so much of public life: individuals of dubious character and cruel deeds may redeem themselves in selfless actions. Fidelity to a personal code of morality would seem to fade in significance as the public sphere, like an enormous sun, blinds us to all else." -- Joyce Carol Oates, "Kennedy's redemption from the depths"
posted by blucevalo at 8:21 PM on August 26, 2009


To me, once you have taken an innocent life, there is no redemption. Just as that person's death is final, the stain on your character is final and nothing you do can ever atone for it or even begin to redeem it. I cannot consider Ted Kennedy a good man.

That said, if you have taken an innocent human life, the only proper thing to do is to try with all your strength to atone for it, even though your task is an impossible one. In that sense, Ted Kennedy's later life was exemplary. A part of me hopes that he suffered through every minute of it, though.

And certainly he did an incredible amount of good for the country. He really was such a contradiction that I just can't wrap my head around it.

He will be missed for his works.
posted by notswedish at 8:35 PM on August 26, 2009


That said, if you have taken an innocent human life, the only proper thing to do is to try with all your strength to atone for it, even though your task is an impossible one.

That's nonsense. If the task is by nature impossible, then why bother to atone for it? By your reasoning, Ted Bundy and Ted Kennedy are precisely the same sort of person. This is a foolish rigidity masquerading as moral toughness.
posted by scody at 8:45 PM on August 26, 2009 [17 favorites]


A million times more human pain and suffering was weighed in the balance and paid by the Vietnamese on that one.

that's a lot more serious accusation than that of chappaquiddick and deserves a straight answer

bullshit

if our country hadn't interfered with the internal affairs of vietnam to start with that million times more human pain and suffering wouldn't have happened - true, a communist regime would have been no picnic for the vietnamese - but it wouldn't have been the utter human catastrophe the vietnam war was

and that was OUR doing

if the opponents of our withdrawal had had their way, we'd probably STILL be fighting that damned war
posted by pyramid termite at 8:48 PM on August 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


I have been much sadder about this than I expected.

And I was interested and very surprised to see paulsc's remembrances of Ted Kennedy. I had the pleasure of meeting him very briefly a few years ago, and the experience couldn't be more different--perhaps because he was off the clock.

His stepdaughter lived on the same dorm hall as some friends of mine at Wesleyan. It was Caro's freshman year, and on Parents' Weekend, she told us her mother and stepfather were coming to visit, but not who they were. So it was quite a shock when I stood up from my friend's bed to peer through the knot of people at the door and this guy thrust out his arm for a handshake, saying only, "Hi, I'm Ted."

...Yes, my brain said, Yes you are. I think I managed to tell him my name. Maybe even a "pleased to meet you." It was barely a conversation--objectively, I was just one of a hallway of slack-jawed kids he was working his way through, half of us in pajamas. But Jesus, could that man work the charm. He wasn't that tall, but he seemed massive. His white hair positively radiated. And when he locked his gaze his on you and both hands around yours, you felt like the only person in the room and the most important person he'd seen all day. For that moment I was convinced, absolutely convinced, that he was as delighted to meet me as I was him.

Thanks for everything you did for this country, Ted. I was very pleased to meet you.
posted by hippugeek at 8:50 PM on August 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


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posted by moira at 8:51 PM on August 26, 2009


Last year, he was scheduled to give the keynote at Wesleyan's graduation. The student body was beside itself with excitement, and heartbroken when his tumor was diagnosed just a few days before the ceremony. So he put in a personal call to someone who owed him big time, and one of the few people in the world as thrilling to a bunch of young leftists as the Lion of the Senate: Barack Obama. This is the speech Obama gave.
posted by hippugeek at 8:54 PM on August 26, 2009 [3 favorites]


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posted by deCadmus at 9:04 PM on August 26, 2009


I don't think that's true at all. The real threat to his presidential aspirations was the perception of him driving home late at night with a now-dead young woman after a private party.

In either case fear of prosecution was probably not uppermost in his mind. And, more to the point, he did not escape prosecution because (as the people I quoted seem to think) because he was a Kennedy but because it was 1969.
posted by Bonzai at 9:06 PM on August 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


Just as that person's death is final, the stain on your character is final and nothing you do can ever atone for it or even begin to redeem it.

Wow, that's quite an ultimatum. If what you say is true, one of the central premises of Christian thought is completely meaningless.
posted by blucevalo at 9:13 PM on August 26, 2009 [8 favorites]


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posted by kuujjuarapik at 9:26 PM on August 26, 2009


"By that standard, nobody we've had in politics since 1799 is indispensable, is he/she?"

Lincoln. Adams. Jefferson. Both Roosevelts. LBJ. Madison. Wilson. Polk. Truman. (indispensable, not necessarily "best") Eisenhower (arguably - for not ending the world when everyone else seemed to be pushing for it and for having the clout to resist the MI-complex on that). That's just presidents.
MLK. John Marshall. Thurgood Marshall. Elizabeth Cady Stantan.William Jennings Bryan. John Dewey. Olmsted. Gompers. etc. etc. etc.

I dunno blucevalo, I think that's where Ted Kennedy broke with that at Chappaquiddick. Or started to. I do think we make aristocrats out of some families and wealth corrupts. More of a systemic problem really.
I think it would be akin to Tom Buchanan waking up one day with yet another floozy on the side and saying "Jeez, what the hell am I doing with my life?" and from then using his wealth and connections to live a more productive life.

We recognize that in some cases even murderers can reform. Indeed, we seem shocked when it happens in prisons, and yet this would be their design - at least by lip service. But I do know people who have undergone great change. I've seen a very good man turned and crippled by hate and fury. And I've seen a lazy, almost completely useless individual become a tireless charity worker. People change. But hell, even if you're a complete bastard or Mr. Wonderful, it's not what's in your heart that counts. Not to the world I mean. Only thing that counts here is what you choose to do and what you choose not to do.
Take a child hostage, point a gun at his head, I don't much care what led you to it and what you deserve has no bearing on what may be necessary to stop you.

Perhaps what is most galling is that he 'got away with it.' He really wasn't stopped and he wasn't punished in an equal manner. I don't know. I wouldn't go down that road. One might argue that there are 'great' men or superior men.
I wouldn't. What one man can do, as far as I've seen, another man can do. I've never seen anything beyond my scope. And what I've done, other folks could have done if they'd put in the dedication and effort.
So really it does seem to have been a matter of choice. I don't think there is any question Ted Kennedy could have continued blithely along the path he was on.
He chose not to.
Beyond that, it's not for me to judge. In part because I can't see what's in his heart. But mostly because even if I could, there's not a damn thing I could do about it either way.

Only thing to do is change the system that allows wealthy people to cover their tracks.
It's a mistake to chase about like Javert trying to determine whether what was said about a man had more influence on his destiny than what he did.
Indeed: "Those are rare who fall without becoming degraded; there is a point, moreover, at which the unfortunate and the infamous are associated and confounded in a single word, a fatal word, Les Misérables."

Where Oates sees Fitzgerald, I see Hugo - not sin and forgiveness, but death of the false, cheap and empty promises of American prosperity and resurrection of the real American dream - Nations, like stars, are entitled to eclipse. All is well, provided the light returns and the eclipse does not become endless night. Dawn and resurrection are synonymous. The reappearance of the light is the same as the survival of the soul.
posted by Smedleyman at 9:29 PM on August 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


(Pretty words - not mine - but just to be clear, I'm not trying to canonize him here. I think he was a screwup rich kid who woke up to reality and became a human being. Same can't be said for Dubya)
posted by Smedleyman at 9:34 PM on August 26, 2009


I so hope that there's a public funeral service in DC. The district's democratic leanings, combined with the country's current Democratic gestalt, the current health care reform battle and the fact that the Democrats haven't had a major funeral in quite some time (not to mention Catholicism's comparative advantage at pomp) could make it one for the history books. I'd view attending as a way of showing my support for health care reform, and I think I'm not alone.

On a related note: I'll be phonebanking for health care reform down at DNC headquarters tomorrow evening, and when I showed up last week, only about half the available spots were occupied. It runs from 5 to 9. I think it's a great way to pay my respects to the lion of the Senate, and wold like to encourage any locals who agree to join me (I wasn't asked to RSVP, but you might want to call before arriving to make sure there's space, under the circumstances).
posted by gsteff at 9:47 PM on August 26, 2009


I'd view attending as a way of showing my support for health care reform, and I think I'm not alone.

I applaud the sentiment, but be wary: the Republicans would love to accuse the Dems of "politicizing a funeral" the way they did with Paul Wellstone's.
posted by Bookhouse at 9:53 PM on August 26, 2009


Very well put, Smedleyman.
posted by blucevalo at 10:07 PM on August 26, 2009


be wary: the Republicans would love to accuse the Dems of "politicizing a funeral" the way they did with Paul Wellstone's.

Can we please stop attempting to placate a gang of authoritarian sociopaths and their half-witted followers, please?
posted by scody at 10:10 PM on August 26, 2009 [9 favorites]


Can we please stop attempting to placate a gang of authoritarian sociopaths and their half-witted followers, please?

Hey, go nuts with your bad self. I didn't say don't do it, I said be wary. To ignore what the fuckers did to the death of Paul Wellstone isn't some act of defiance, no matter how good it might make you feel. I'm sorry if you think pointing that out is "placating," but I promise you the Democratic leaders are very, very aware of Wellstone and are discussing the proper way to handle Kennedy's funeral.
posted by Bookhouse at 10:51 PM on August 26, 2009


Who has the magic to cash in and redeem the "get out of jail free card" based on the last name? let me know where I can take my Monopoly Chance card and cash in MINE and redeem it when the time comes. Otherwise some agree to disagree about the merits of a man who if it were "me" would be seriously up a creek...or under 7 feet....or wouldn't know what to say about the drinking/driving/death...so where are the Mary Jo parents interviews in the media? CNN? FOX?
posted by brent at 10:52 PM on August 26, 2009


And, more to the point, he did not escape prosecution because...he was a Kennedy but because it was 1969.

That's just complete nonsense.
posted by mediareport at 11:07 PM on August 26, 2009


I didn't say don't do it, I said be wary.

And I would like to know, once again, why anyone on the liberal/lefty/progressive side of the spectrum should be wary of the reactions of a cabal of wingnuts who have demonstrated over the course of a couple of generations to be almost entirely devoid of shame, critical thinking skills, and common decency. All this does is continue to allow them to set the terms for the debate on every single solitary issue. I think that's gotten us far enough down the rabbit hole already ("OBAMA WANTS DEATH PANELS!" "Well, they're not really death panels, but we'll get rid of them anyway if you don't like them"), no?

Then again, I left the Dems nearly 15 years ago in part from disgust for their constant attempts to play to the right, so I went nuts with my bad self quite some time ago, thanks.
posted by scody at 11:12 PM on August 26, 2009


I suppose we just disagree about it, then. The "ignore it" defense against Republican shenanigans failed miserably (see Kerry and the Swiftboats). I agree with you that the Dems haven't been doing very well against the Death Panel smears, but I don't see how that connects to this.
posted by Bookhouse at 11:27 PM on August 26, 2009


That's just complete nonsense.

MADD was founded in 1980, no? Wikipedia: "The leniency of the sentence given to the repeat offender of driving while intoxicated (DWI) outraged Lightner who then organized Mothers Against Drunk Drivers.[1] The name was later changed to Mothers Against Drunk Driving. The object of her organization was to raise public awareness of the serious nature of drunken driving and to promote tough legislation against the crime."
posted by @troy at 1:03 AM on August 27, 2009


The cops didn't even bother with the most minimal investigation. That was *not* because of the era's more lenient attitudes toward drunk driving. That was because it was a Kennedy, who already had a phalanx of family advisors and lawyers around him the following morning.
posted by mediareport at 4:52 AM on August 27, 2009


I still don't understand the complaints about the Wellstone funeral; everything I've ever heard or read about Paul Wellstone suggests to me that he would have loved it.
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:17 AM on August 27, 2009


But we do have a class stratified justice system-...

Quite so. And we are the worse for it. But to call incarceration or punishment merely vengeance is mistaken. It is also a tangible warning to others so they refrain from bad behaviour. If a senator gets a stiff sentence, the rest of us can be pretty sure that the law means what it says. A good thing, to my mind.

Did he make up for it in private remorse and public service? Clearly many agree. In 1969 it was an unknowable. The question at that time was, does the law apply equally to a senator as to a vagrant. That was a stunningly generous second chance he got, and not for the first time.

Plenty of resignations over scandal in recent decades, as you say, and yet - not him. Why is that? Nixon resigned. Wilbur Mills resigned. Mark Foley resigned. Cunningham. Presumably in some cases they knew they could not be re-elected. Clearly not the case here. But it's quite an assumption to believe oneself is so vital to the role that one should be exempt from the laws and mores that define more common men. Or that one could not expiate oneself via, say, a career with a Habitat for Humanity, or the Peace Corp.

(For the record, I count the senator's record mixed, some good, some bad. I'm not given to gravedancing or vengeance, but neither am I given to hero worship. Which is probably why I can stiffly insist on the principle rather than on the outcome.

Also for the record- I condole all here who are in pain.)
posted by IndigoJones at 6:16 AM on August 27, 2009


Who has the magic to cash in and redeem the "get out of jail free card" based on the last name?

The entire Bush and Cheney lineages.
posted by blucevalo at 6:39 AM on August 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


But it's quite an assumption to believe oneself is so vital to the role that one should be exempt from the laws and mores that define more common men.

And not an assumption unique to Ted Kennedy, one might add. In fact, an assumption that is not all that unusual among many politicians in the nation's capital.
posted by blucevalo at 6:50 AM on August 27, 2009


But it's quite an assumption to believe oneself is so vital to the role that one should be exempt from the laws and mores that define more common men.

And not an assumption unique to Ted Kennedy, one might add. In fact, an assumption that is not all that unusual among many politicians in the nation's capital.


I realize many folks view "Inside the Beltway" as synonymous with greed and corruption, but I'd like to point out that you can find plenty of folks in the hallowed halls of any state capitol or county courthouse that fit that same description.
posted by Pollomacho at 6:56 AM on August 27, 2009


notswedish said: To me, once you have taken an innocent life, there is no redemption. Just as that person's death is final, the stain on your character is final and nothing you do can ever atone for it or even begin to redeem it. I cannot consider Ted Kennedy a good man.

So, I'm sure you were out there talking about Laura Bush the whole time she was first lady, then? Cause she barreled into the car of her ex-boyfriend at 50 mph when she saw him with a cheerleader. Killed him in front of his dad. So, I'm sure you send letters of protest to anyone who considers paying her speaking fee?
posted by dejah420 at 8:39 AM on August 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Dejah -- not exactly accurate.
posted by empath at 8:41 AM on August 27, 2009


No, that is not how it happened. Nevertheless, the situation as it did occur does suggest an absurdity in notswedish's firm assurance that any taking of innocent life is automatically and authoritatively irredeemable.
posted by blucevalo at 9:00 AM on August 27, 2009


Snopes Laura Bush car accident.
posted by Miko at 9:07 AM on August 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


For those who might be interested and in Boston today and tomorrow here's the route, map and details of Senator Kennedy's motorcade which is scheduled to leave Hyannis Port at 1:00 p.m. this afternnon. It will wind its way through Boston passing places of significance to Sentor Kennedy and his family before ending at the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum where he will lie in repose before his funeral mass at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Basilica in Mission Hill on Saturday.
posted by ericb at 9:32 AM on August 27, 2009


Wow, dejah240, that was a wildly inaccurate telling of the story.
posted by Bookhouse at 9:38 AM on August 27, 2009


.
posted by Iridic at 10:54 AM on August 27, 2009


.
"...the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die."
posted by Floydd at 12:09 PM on August 27, 2009


Faythe Collins remembered meeting Senator Edward M. Kennedy as a child and later, as a worried mother whose children had been detained in Brazil, calling his office and leaving a message.

“I expected a secretary to maybe call me back,” she said.

But the voice on the phone was that of the senator himself.

Ms. Collins, who went to the John F. Kennedy Museum in Hyannis, Mass., on Wednesday to sign one of three condolence books put out hours after the senator’s death, recalled his telling her that “he couldn’t pull any strings” to hasten her children’s return, but suggesting options that she could try on her own and calling back several times to check on how things were going.

“The information he gave me helped me get my kids back to this country,” said Ms. Collins, 45, who grew up in Hyannis and still lives not far from the Kennedy compound in Hyannis Port. “It’s so rare that politicians take the time to help ordinary people.”

...Natan Sharansky, the Israeli politician and former Soviet political prisoner, called him ''one of the towering figures in human rights.'' When Mr. Sharansky was released from a Soviet prison in 1986, he said, it was Mr. Kennedy who called his wife, in Israel, to let her know.

Mr. Sharansky recalled a time when American officials visiting Moscow had worried about upsetting the Soviet government and endangering democracy activists there by going to see them. But in the spring of 1974, Mr. Kennedy ended official talks there and headed to the home of Alexander Lerner, a well-known dissident.

''He was the first to dare to do it, and that was the precedent that allowed other American officials to visit refuseniks,'' Mr. Sharansky said. ''Before that, it was like an iron curtain. Nobody did it.''
Allies and Adversairies React to Kennedy's Death - New York Times
.
posted by y2karl at 12:39 PM on August 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


.
posted by aerotive at 1:10 PM on August 27, 2009


I just watched the motorcade coverage for the past couple of hours. Very touching. Thousands lined Route 3, Route 93 and every the overpass from Hyannis Port to Boston proper. Cars even were stopped on the opposite sides of the highways, so that folks could get a glimpse of the hearse and cortege. When it snacked through Boston the streets were packed -- many lined 5 to 8 people deep. Constant applause and tears. Respect, honor and a dignified show of appreciation. One of the local commentators said that many outside of Massachusetts when watching the evening news tonight may be surprised at the huge number of people and the outpouring of emotion. For many not from the Commonwealth Ted Kennedy equals Chappaquiddick. For many in Massachusetts that event is seen as one of Kennedy's horrible mistakes and his worst misdeed: an ugly stain of a young man's own doing. It is an incident that likely caused him to take note of his past and to take stock of his future potential. As such, I think he worked tirelessly to redeem himself. Last night on national TV news coverage one Kennedy friend said that he knew that Teddy carried that incident with him for the remainder of his life. Whether the Senator ever felt peace and redemption deep in his heart and mind we will never know. Many of us in Massachusetts do know one thing: Ted was on our side. He looked out for everyone. Not for some. Not for a few. For everyone.
Why Boston Backed Teddy Kennedy.
posted by ericb at 2:29 PM on August 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


And in keeping Robert Bork off the Supreme Court, he looked out for generations.
posted by y2karl at 3:56 PM on August 27, 2009 [6 favorites]


A cousin of mine - a police officer, doing off-duty work - was killed by a Bush, probably drunk*, in an accident only a few years ago.

Senior Federal Appeals Judge John Mercer Walker, Jr.^, a first cousin of George H.W[alker]. Bush, struck and killed officer Dan Picagli on a dark, rainy night in an unmarked utility construction zone. He immediately stopped. Officers at the scene saw no reason to suspect drugs or alcohol were a factor, and there were no charges because the prosecutor determined it to be an unintentional accident with no evidence of recklessness or negligence. Judge Walker was leaving work at the Federal Court building.
Derail, but not much of one.
posted by dhartung at 4:48 PM on August 27, 2009


I spent some time today researching Chappaquiddick and Mary Jo Kopechne after reading Joyce Carol Oates piece in the Guardian. . I wondered on what her justification was for the following:

Kennedy chose to flee the scene , leaving the young woman to die an agonising death not of drowning but of suffocation over a period of hours.

First off Mary Jo Kopechne was not just some political groupie/party girl, but a well regarded political operative. She had started out as a secretary in Bobby Kennedy's Senate office, but before that she had gone in 1962 to teach in Alabama as part of the Civil Rights movement. She was deeply affected by Bobby's assassination and was at a loss for a while about what to do next. At the time of her death she had just taken a job at the first political consulting firm, recently opened in D.C. I regret that until today I had saw her as an expendable person, a "groupie".
Also the description of events of July 18th, 1969 is harrowing, at least the Wikipedia version. There is a credible school of thought that Mary Jo died a slow death trapped in 7 feet of water. And Teddy, if not drunk, was certainly having some kind of psychic break if the facts in Wikipedia are true.
And also tragic, Joan Kennedy pregnant with their third child was on bed rest. She insisted on accompanying her husband to Mary Jo's funeral which resulted in a miscarriage.

As I said above, I sought out Senator Kennedy to shake his hand and always had the greatest respect for his achievements, but there is so much here for him to atone for. It must have always been with him.
posted by readery at 6:05 PM on August 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


bitter-girl.com, dirtdirt,

My wife & I always wondered what happened what happened to Jessica Katz. My wife babysat Jessica when we were in college. We left the Boston area in 1980 and lost contact with the Katz family. I was so happy to hear Boris Katz on NPR, read the CNN story, and find out that Jessica is helping others.
posted by lukemeister at 7:52 PM on August 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Local news coverage at 11:00 p.m. indicates that "tens of thousands" of people have lined up and passed by Senator Kennedy's casket at the JFK Presidential Library and Museum since 6:00 p.m.

There is still a half-mile line of people waiting to go in. Tonight's viewing was intended to close at 11 p.m. [live video stream].

Reports indicate that the viewing will continue throughout the remainder of the evening tonight and into tomorrow. The original viewing hours for Friday were 8 a.m.-3 p.m.
posted by ericb at 8:17 PM on August 27, 2009


.
posted by jadepearl at 9:47 PM on August 27, 2009


Nixon tapes, 8 September 1971 (discussion of whether to extend Secret Service coverage for Kennedy through the 1972 campaign):
Haldeman: You've got one United States Senator [Kennedy] who is a secondary factor in the campaign. You give him coverage through the campaign.

Ehrlichman: Understand, I don't like to give him something, but at the same time --

Haldeman: And then if he gets shot, it's our fault.

Ehrlichman: Sure.

Nixon: You understand what the problem is. If the son of a bitch gets shot they'll say we didn't furnish it. So you just buy his insurance. Then after the election, he doesn't get a goddamn thing. If he gets shot, it's too damn bad. Do it under the basis, though, that we pick the Secret Service men. Not that son of a bitch [Secret Service Chief James] Rowley. Understand what I'm talking about? Do you have anybody in the Secret Service that you can get to? Do you have anybody that we can rely on?

Ehrlichman: Yeah. Yeah. We've got several.

Nixon: Plant one. Plant two guys on him. This could be very useful.
posted by blucevalo at 7:07 AM on August 28, 2009 [4 favorites]


Ar dheis De go raibh a h-anam
posted by Wilder at 8:41 AM on August 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Ar dheis De go raibh a h-anam

...et lux perpetua luceat ei.
posted by jquinby at 8:56 AM on August 28, 2009


Nixon tapes, 8 September 1971 (discussion of whether to extend Secret Service coverage for Kennedy through the 1972 campaign)

And here's a Talking Points Memo reader's account of his encounter with Kennedy's Secret Service detail when he discovered a cached gun while working as a hotel security guard during the 1980 presidential Democratic primaries campaign.
posted by Doktor Zed at 9:28 AM on August 28, 2009 [3 favorites]


Huckabee: After reform, Kennedy would be told, "take pain pills and die"
posted by Deathalicious at 3:09 PM on August 28, 2009


Huckabee should go take some pain pills and die - what a fucking ghoul.
posted by Artw at 3:13 PM on August 28, 2009


geez, Artw, walk right into the most predictable rejoinder ever there, sheesh.
posted by GuyZero at 3:17 PM on August 28, 2009


You're right of course - any response other than "fuck you" is superfluous.

(Fucker doesn't deserve any pain pills)
posted by Artw at 4:11 PM on August 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


That was a great story you linked to Doktor Zed.
posted by marxchivist at 4:54 PM on August 28, 2009


You can watch the funeral live here, by the way.
posted by EarBucket at 8:42 AM on August 29, 2009


Reading his son's words brought tears to my eyes.
posted by effigy at 3:11 PM on August 29, 2009


Thousands Stop On Massachusetts Highway (Route 128) To Say Goodbye To Sen Kennedy.
posted by ericb at 4:15 PM on August 29, 2009


Reading his son's words brought tears to my eyes.

Watching Teddy, Jr.'s eulogy brought tears to me eyes [video | 12:58].
posted by ericb at 4:21 PM on August 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


One of my favorite moments from last night's memorial held at the JFK Library was Kennedy's Harvard friend and fellow football teammate, former Iowa Senator John Culver 1 | 2.
posted by ericb at 4:33 PM on August 29, 2009 [2 favorites]


Electronic traffic signs and bus screens have been flashing, "Thanks, Ted, from the people of Massachusetts" all day, L.A. Story-style. The Kennedy motorcade drove by the signs on the Pike. Very sweet.
posted by oinopaponton at 9:03 PM on August 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


I know it wasn't your intent flarbuse but your comment gave me a giggle as most attempts at illogical pop reverse psychology do. It was the inevitable next step in this thread that I expected but had hoped MeFites were above.

Cheers for lowering the bar.
posted by gnash


Yeah, gnash, and you got favorited so many more times than he did.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 7:53 AM on August 30, 2009


gnash, you don't really get it do you?
posted by caddis at 7:58 AM on August 30, 2009


And so it begins:

Ted Kennedy should have been arrested for treason--a post-mortum

Yeesh.
posted by NoMich at 4:56 PM on August 30, 2009


we were not at war with the soiviet union in 1983, therefore they were not our enemy, therefore ted kennedy could not have committed treason ... assuming that this account or the soviet memo has any accuracy to it at all, which i doubt
posted by pyramid termite at 5:19 PM on August 30, 2009


(mefi's own) The Big Picture - Senator Ted Kennedy, 1932-2009
posted by cashman at 7:27 AM on August 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


Ted Kennedy should have been arrested for treason--a post-mortum

Anthony G. Martin should be arrested for misspelling his own freaking headline.
posted by Sys Rq at 7:36 AM on August 31, 2009


Thank god that St. Ronald Reagan's tough words brought the USSR down. We all know now with our 20/20 hindsight that it sure as hell wasn't that pussy Gorbachev's campaigns of perestroika and glastnost or their overextension in Afghanistan (and at home). Yep, totally St. Ronald ordering them to tear down the Berlin wall that did it.
posted by Pollomacho at 7:39 AM on August 31, 2009 [3 favorites]


I always thought it had a lot to do with access to video/televsion from the outside world. Video didn't kill the radio stars it killed the stoic acceptance of rationing and queues.

When I met Ted Kenedy in 1980 it was at the Polish Daily Zgoda on Milwaukee Ave in Chicago. He was there with Dan Rostenkowski around the corner from Rostenkowski's house. I working in the neighborhood with some old-country Poles, that were just beginning to be able to travel back and forth to Poland. Those were also the years of the first commercially available satellite dishes.

Polish people were avid consumers of any western pop culture and friends of mine could be instant hits in Poland by bringing cassettes of American pop music. They also brought their Polish relatives American dollars smuggled in - I don't know why but Poles really wanted American money. This was also the time of Lech Walesa and the Gdansk shipyard strike.

My friend Maria once mentioned after one trip that now her relatives had somehow gotten a satellite dish and could watch western tv and did not just depend on her to bring in tapes.

I figured the same was going on in Russia and seeing Europeans and Americans enjoying the fruits of capitalism made it difficult to believe the state sponsered news.
posted by readery at 8:26 AM on August 31, 2009


I always thought it had a lot to do with access to video/televsion from the outside world. Video didn't kill the radio stars it killed the stoic acceptance of rationing and queues.

It ain't Ronny's head they stick on monuments in the former Eastern Bloc.
posted by Pollomacho at 12:11 PM on August 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


I Blame the Patriarchy weighs in.
posted by lukemeister at 8:22 AM on September 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


>> True, but he got drunk and killed a woman, dude.

In the small mind of a conservative, this is the sum total of Ted Kennedy.
posted by Brosef K at 10:54 AM on September 17, 2009


Massachusetts House OKs Senate Succession Change.
posted by ericb at 8:36 PM on September 17, 2009


"The state Senate is expected to pass the bill as well, but Republican stalling tactics could delay that until the middle of next week."
posted by ericb at 8:36 PM on September 17, 2009


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