Discomfort with the Kennedy adulation

I said earlier I wasn’t going to bad mouth Kennedy, but the white washed adoration oozing from the media impels me to say something.  Politically and, if you’re into American dynasties, dynastically, the adulation upon his death is understandable and, depending on your political orientation, fitting.  He was indeed a political colossus, and if you liked his politics, then who the heck cares about his myriad personal failings, right?  He was also the last of a generation that lives large in American hearts.  I personally came of age too late ever to understand the Kennedy mystique.  I missed Camelot, and just heard about affairs, mafia ties, political corruption, all of which seemed to me to be rather charmless.  But again, if you’re a Kennedy fan (and all American media falls into that category), Teddy was one for the books.

But here’s the thing:  Kennedy wasn’t just a drunken liberal politician or scion of a family the American press took to its heart.  Instead, he was two things that I find unforgiveable:  a traitor and a murderer.

The traitor part comes because he actively and secretly worked with America’s enemies to undermine the United States during the Cold War.  He was a murderer because of Mary Jo Kopechne.  If, when he drunkenly drove into the water, Mary Jo had died immediately, he would have been “nothing more” than an involuntary manslaughterer.  However, when he ran away from the scene, leaving a living Mary Jo to die alone and afraid, trapped in a sinking car, he elevated his moral and legal status to that of murderer.  Even before I became a conservative, I never forgave or forgot that fact.

I anticipated the posthumous drooling, and I really did intend to keep the high moral ground of holding my tongue, but the myriad MSM reports of him as merely “flawed” inflame me.  He wasn’t just flawed.  He was, at best, immoral and, at worst, evil.

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  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com/ Ymarsakar

    Ted Kennedy used his connections amongst Democrats to purge the Vietnam people of all that may have inconvenienced him politically, which also led to the slaughter in Cambodia.

    He wasn’t just one vote, as may have been apparent on the rolls. He’s been in the Senate for a long time, long enough to have wielded extraordinary influence. And as evidenced by the praise for his political actions, they were effective and ruthless. As ruthless as his direct intention to aid and abet the slaughter of the South Vietnamese allies of Americans.

    He was no ordinary citizen nor even pundit. He was intimately connected with details, government details and secrets. Ignorance was not his excuse. He could not say, “my bad, I didn’t know I was supporting mass murderers” like most ordinary fake liberals can try to claim about their anti-war crimes during Vietnam. He can’t claim that, even if he wanted to.

    The combination of personal evil, the abetting of entropy and the destruction of human civilization across the breadth of the world, and long time political corruption and control, leaves him no wiggle room. And it leaves his supporters none either. They are all complicit. All of them.

  • Ariel

    Book, you’ve described why I found the past and now find the current adulation of the man so troubling. Even if his politics were mine I would still hold him in contempt. Kopechne and Andropov were his lack of character writ large. There were so many other things writ small, even on his death bed…

  • http://conservativlib.wordpress.com/ eric-odessit

    You said what needed to be said. Thank you. When people are genuinely bad, “don’t speak ill of the dead” rule does not apply. He was a bad guy in the 1970s and I don’t think he changed.

  • http://OgBlog.net Earl

    Thanks for posting this, Book — I was around and aware in the time of Camelot, and it’s not too hard for me to understand that time and the nostalgia for it, given the press JFK got (and didn’t get). We don’t know what Jack Kennedy would have become had he lived, but he had shown a good deal more pragmatism and appeared less wedded to the leftist ideology that has ruled Ted for so long. I suspect he would have been seriously embarrassed by his baby brother – it’s hard for me to imagine that Bobby and Jack would have put up with the kinds of activities that sullied their name, without taking actions to short-circuit Ted’s Senate career and get him off the public stage.

  • George Bruce

    “I personally came of age too late ever to understand the Kennedy mystique. I missed Camelot, and just heard about affairs, mafio ties, political corruption, all of which seemed to me to be rather charmless. But again, if you’re a Kennedy fan (and all American media falls into that category), Teddy was one for the books.”

    Actually you missed nothing. There was no Kennedy mystique aside from the media manufactured stuff. JFK only squeaked by Nixon in the 1960 elections. And even that was the result of ballot stuffing by the Daley machine and others. At the time of his death, JFK was unpopular and was widely seen as mediocre, ineffective and incompetent. He most certainly would have been a one term President had the communists not killed him. Death was the best thing that ever happened to his political career.

    And JFK was a hundred times the man Teddy was.

  • Charles Martel

    Book, I was 12 when Jack Kennedy got elected. I had followed the Democratic convention earlier that summer, fascinated by the vey earnest and passionate workings of JFK, LBJ and Adlai Stevenson’s partisans.

    Kennedy had great charisma and he was a Catholic, which resonated with this altar boy. I didn’t like Nixon on sight, so it was pretty easy to like JFK. When he squeaked into the White House, I was elated.

    But as the months wore on, it became obvious that JFK was not a messenger from God or a particularly good president. By the time of his assassination, the glow on him had worn off for me. My shock at his murder was not because a great man had been felled but that the president himself had been destroyed brutally and callously.

    I think that had Jackie Kennedy not so artfully choreographed his funeral and introduced the Camelot myth, Jack Kennedy might not have become the great icon that he did.

    JFK Jr. once said that he was not sure if he had any memories of his dad that were real since it was possible that the ones he thought he had were probably introduced by other people’s endless recounting of their memories of his time with his father. I think the same thing happened with the Kennedy hagiography that grew over the years—false, or at least suspect, memories got planted in many of us as we were told over and over again what a brilliant, handsome, witty, dashing man had been taken from us.

    Bobby’s assassination was even more of a “what-might-have-been” event since he never reached the presidency and never had the chance to fail. But that second murder cemented the legacy by creating the tragic legend of two ill-fated brothers who could have saved America from some dread thing (certainly not Marxism if you were a leftist).

    That desire to keep the legend burnished is what motivated the kid-gloves treatment that Teddy was accorded all of his adult life. But putrefaction is going to set in pretty fast. If there is a voter revolt in 2010 and 2012, and we can save the republic, honest historians will emerge who will begin to expose the rot that was always there at the heart of the Kennedys. Teddy will get his due soon enough.

  • Zhombre

    I hope the Camelot Myth is buried with him.

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com/ Ymarsakar

    JFK Jr. once said that he was not sure if he had any memories of his dad that were real since it was possible that the ones he thought he had were probably introduced by other people’s endless recounting of their memories of his time with his father. I think the same thing happened with the Kennedy hagiography that grew over the years—false, or at least suspect, memories got planted in many of us as we were told over and over again what a brilliant, handsome, witty, dashing man had been taken from us.

    The power of propaganda. Unlike assassination and other extra-legalities, it is totally legal and totally effective, especially given modern tools of communication.

    I love propaganda, because I hate the Left.

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com/ Ymarsakar

    I hope the Camelot Myth is buried with him.

    It will be, once we put the Democrat party and its current ideology into an early mass grave.

  • http://OgBlog.net Earl

    “What-if” history is fun to talk about, but nothing to base serious decisions on. No one knows what JFK or Bobby would have done, and maybe both of them would have ended up like Ted (although I doubt it).

    Charles, I resonate strongly with your perspective, although I’m not Catholic, and (at 13) hoped that Nixon would be elected. “Implanted memories” is as good an explanation as any to account for America’s continuing love affair with the Kennedys. I haven’t heard a better one, that’s for sure.

    An amazing American family in lots of ways — the usual (I’m sure) mix of good and bad, but broadcast to us, and to the world, by a media for whom Jack, and then Bobby, were shining heroes!

    I really AM hoping that America comes to her senses in 2010 and then in 2012 — I can’t wait for the actual digging into the history of that time to begin!

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com/ Ymarsakar


    A comment I wrote there described the tendency of both democracies and autocracies to favor charismatic leaders. Read about how they differ depending on the systems they came to power in.

  • Zhombre

    “once we put the Democrat party and its current ideology into an early mass grave.”

    A metaphoric one, I presume.

  • Bill Smith

    By all means look at Bob Owens’ site now for the comments one of his football team buddies made. Confederate Yankee.

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  • Lulu11

    The Kennedys have 2 factors that make them so compelling for people. They are largely good-looking and well put together. They have suffered lots of tragedy and early deaths. Note the fascination we have with Marilyn Monroe, Princess Di, Elvis, as opposed to the unglamorous, not so good looking celebrity who dies young. (I’m struggling to think of any). Can you imagine Americans caring about the Kennedys as they do if they all looked like Nixon or LBJ or frolicked in places less scenic than Martha’s Vineyard and Cape Cod?

    I must confess I had never read much about Mary Jo Kopechne until today. What a sordid tragedy. One can only imagine what really happened that night. I hope BHO is the last “Kennedy” we have for a loong time.

  • Danny Lemieux

    A Kennedy-Kyu

    Swimming to surface

    Reputation left behind

    Mere muck lost in time

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  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com/ Ymarsakar

    Conservatives seem to have all these rules about what to engage and when to engage. Their enemies move freely as terrorists because they understand the tactical limitations of these rules, and how to exploit them.

    Thus the conservatives stay within the law and the rules, and lose. The Left stays within the law and stays outside the rules, because they know when to break and bend the rules, and win. Course, that victory gives them the power to break the law with impunity, as well. So it’s win win for them and lose lose for the rest of you.

  • Mike Devx

    Ymar #18:

    > Conservatives seem to have all these rules about what to engage and when to engage. […] Thus the conservatives stay within the law and the rules, and lose. The Left stays within the law and stays outside the rules, because they know when to break and bend the rules, and win.

    I think Ymar is spot on.

    Conservatives “Oh, no, we mustn’t say that! Or speak that way! Don’t be angry! Be nice! Smile a lot! Happy happy happy happy!”

    Then we find that the politicians only pay attention when the people show up and they’re up in arms. They’re yelling, waving their arms in the air, accusing… they’re angry. Or more to the point: They Are Passionate

    In all the Republican rules in the rule book, the one thing a conservative must NEVER NEVER NEVER do is to be passionate. To express passion. Be calm! Be calm! Be calm!

    We must stop it. The time for calmness has passed. Let’s get passionate. Hey, folks, it is time to ROCK AND ROLL IT. Let’s go. Stop the smiles and the calm, detached mildness.

  • Mike Devx

    We don’t need, or want, to rant and rave like a Cindy Sheehan or a Sheila Jackson Lee (or lecture in a whiny, squeaky voice like Ron Paul).

    But I do think we’re at the point where the Daniel Hannan speech denouncing Gordon Brown has exactly the right tone. It is forceful and passionate without a hint of a rant. The atmosphere is right.


    Can you imagine Americans caring about the Kennedys as they do if they all looked like Nixon or LBJ or frolicked in places less scenic than Martha’s Vineyard and Cape Cod?

    Ahh…the visuals. Lulu you framed it perfectly.

    JFK was packaged and promoted at the onset of the television age. The package included the ‘Hollywood’ link as well – MM singing Happy Birthday, Mr. President, Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack as part of the entourage. Add to the mix, the Mafia/ Cuba connection, the appointment of RFK as AG all topped off with Ted and the drowning of Mary Jo Kopechne, who was the ‘only’ child. My heart broke for her parents.

    It was a surreal mix of (packaged) Camelot meets The Sopranos.


    Before the accolades get started this weekend.

    Pa. woman at center of Kennedy’s Chappaquiddick scandal

    By Larry King

    Inquirer Staff Writer

    The darkest scandal in Sen. Edward M. Kennedy’s colorful life – one that likely denied him the presidency – is indelibly linked to a young woman from Pennsylvania.

    Mary Jo Kopechne, a 28-year-old secretary, was leaving a party with Kennedy on July 18, 1969, when the senator drove his car off the side of a bridge on Chappaquiddick Island in Massachusetts. Kopechne was found dead in the submerged car the next morning. Kennedy, unable to explain how he escaped the vehicle, did not report the incident to police until after Kopechne’s body was discovered.

    Kennedy pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of an accident, received a suspended sentence, and faced no further charges. But Chappaquiddick haunted him for the rest of his political career.

    Kopechne was from Forty Fort, Luzerne County, the only child of an insurance salesman and a homemaker. Joseph Kopechne, 90, died in an East Stroudsburg nursing home in 2003. Gwen Kopechne, 89, died in 2007 at a nursing home in Plains Township.

    A graduate of Caldwell College for Women in New Jersey, Mary Jo Kopechne worked as a secretary in Washington, where her employers had included Sen. Robert Kennedy. The night of her death, she had attended a party with several other women who had worked for the Kennedys. Edward Kennedy, who attended the party, had offered to drive Kopechne back to her motel on Martha’s Vineyard.

    In a 1994 interview, Joseph and Gwen Kopechne said they had never received a direct apology from him, though other Kennedy family members had written them letters.

    After their daughter’s death, the Kopechnes received a $141,000 settlement from Kennedy’s insurance company and moved to a new home in Swiftwater, Pa. They denied using Kennedy’s money to build the home.

    And when Gwen Kopechne died in 2007, there was no mention at her funeral of the Massachusetts senator.


    Found this in my spam folder. I had emailed the WH with what I would say was an unfavorable comment or two or three.
    After getting the Axelrod letter, I hit unsubscribe. I guess unsubscribe goes to spam.

    Not wasting a moment of time …. the ‘opportunist’ found the time to community organize while grieving. What a guy!

    Michelle and I were heartbroken to learn this morning of the death of our dear friend, Senator Ted Kennedy.

    For nearly five decades, virtually every major piece of legislation to advance the civil rights, health and economic well-being of the American people bore his name and resulted from his efforts.

    His ideas and ideals are stamped on scores of laws and reflected in millions of lives — in seniors who know new dignity; in families that know new opportunity; in children who know education’s promise; and in all who can pursue their dream in an America that is more equal and more just, including me.

    In the United States Senate, I can think of no one who engendered greater respect or affection from members of both sides of the aisle. His seriousness of purpose was perpetually matched by humility, warmth and good cheer. He battled passionately on the Senate floor for the causes that he held dear, and yet still maintained warm friendships across party lines. And that’s one reason he became not only one of the greatest senators of our time, but one of the most accomplished Americans ever to serve our democracy.

    I personally valued his wise counsel in the Senate, where, regardless of the swirl of events, he always had time for a new colleague. I cherished his confidence and momentous support in my race for the Presidency. And even as he waged a valiant struggle with a mortal illness, I’ve benefited as President from his encouragement and wisdom.

    His fight gave us the opportunity we were denied when his brothers John and Robert were taken from us: the blessing of time to say thank you and goodbye. The outpouring of love, gratitude and fond memories to which we’ve all borne witness is a testament to the way this singular figure in American history touched so many lives.

    For America, he was a defender of a dream. For his family, he was a guardian. Our hearts and prayers go out to them today — to his wonderful wife, Vicki, his children Ted Jr., Patrick and Kara, his grandchildren and his extended family.

    Today, our country mourns. We say goodbye to a friend and a true leader who challenged us all to live out our noblest values. And we give thanks for his memory, which inspires us still.


    President Barack Obama

  • http://OgBlog.net Earl

    Oh, GAG me!!

    I’m about to turn my radio off — the lies that are being spewed about Ted Kennedy (respectful, never personally attacking, etc.) just make me retch.

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com/ Ymarsakar

    America has taught me that there are two American Dreams. One Dream is about getting a business or raising a family, and then providing for that family and for your own personal goals in life.

    The second dream says “If you have wealth, you can get power, and if you have wealth and power, you can do anything you want and receive no major punishment”.

    You, the person sitting in a chair reading this, are more or less invested in the first dream. That’s why your life has been increasingly controlled by those that have invested in the second.

    If I want to destroy evil, or at least set back entropy a bit, I must acquire power and wealth or at least access to them. The question is always, do you want to destroy evil enough? Do you hate their servants enough? Do you just dislike Ted Kennedy and his works or do you hate the very idea of his existence and its effects on others?

    Those that sip tea and talk about these issues of politics as anything other than issues of life and death, don’t have the will to do anything even if you gave them the opportunity to do so. THey don’t have the guts, the fortitude, the smarts, the strength to do anything.


    There’s your new Lord Ruler. He is dead, yes. But you’ll have another one, to join the endless parade of them in DC.

    This enemy never sleeps. You cannot defeat it with guns, violence, or words. It cannot be defeated at the ballot box. It cannot be defeated by intellect or physical hardiness. This enemy never sleeps, you can only push it back until some odd generation later, it awakes from its slumber and arises anew.

    Power is required to push it back into the sea, before its monstrous form arises anew over a future non-vigilant generation, assuming the current one survives. Wealth is required to buy propaganda to convince the masses. Wealth is required to provide arms for security and infrastructure for prosperity.

    This is much like Charis and the decision Nimue Alban made. The funny thing about reading all those science fiction histories and alternative histories is the association that this was the past and it would most likely never happen to the world I know, the First World of Western Civilization. That was due to ignorance, because it had already happened. Most people didn’t notice and so weren’t talking about it on tv or in books. But history told the truth to me; it told me what I needed to know in order to recognize what was happening today.

    but one of the most accomplished Americans ever to serve our democracy.

    Make no mistake, citizens of America. Kennedy never served you anything except lies. You served him. As a waitress or waiter. As a debt-servant and slave. As a vessel for his entertainment. As a canvas for his artistry and manipulations.

    You were his servant, not the other way around. He said that he’d give his servants, you, the right to the same quality healthcare as his own personal privilege and wealth had bought. He thinks it is his right, by inheritance, that you should have the same right. Enjoy that lie, for in a socialized healthcare system, the elites like Kennedy will still get the best, but this time you won’t be able to pay for it cause the service itself won’t be available for any price. You won’t have enough friends in high places to give you that access, and the price to buy that influence will be larger than what you could make in your entire life.

    This was the case under Absolute Monarchs. And we are returning to it, for we have had decades of it already, on top of everything else. And why hasn’t America fallen already? Because of the US Constitution. It was designed to control greed and megalomaniacs. Keep them in their place. Prevent somebody like Kennedy from becoming President. But now it is weakening. It is weak enough to let an Obama become President.

    The Constitution is not strong enough to keep these leeches in check. The fail safes must be activated soon.

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com/ Ymarsakar

    The wikipedia on Mary Jo provides more detail, especially with concerns on Kennedy’s immediate reactions.

    By the synthesized account, Kennedy called some friends over after he swam to safety. He told them that he tried to swim back and get her, but couldn’t.

    (That’s cowardice. At the time, he thought nothing but saving his own life, and then when he tried to swim back, the damn car was on the bottom of the lake, and Kennedy said ‘F that, I’m not risking my life for some dead girl’)

    He then said good bye to his friends, and his friends told him to call the police and thought he had. Until they called on him in the morning and found out he hadn’t called the police, after he told them that he would. (Dishonorable wretch. A man is worth nothing if he breaks his word, especially on things like this)

    Cowardice, dishonorable conduct, the list goes on.

    For such a weak man with so many skeletons in his closet, he could have been destroyed easily in the public’s eye, assuming one could survive the Kennedy clan’s retribution although that could be a secondary consideration if one hates enough.

    But nobody in politics wanted it badly enough. They didn’t hate him enough. They were his peers and equals. He didn’t treat them badly. Just those with less power than Senators and Presidents. Those he treated badly and the rest of our “Congress” said and did nothing about it. A slave master owns his slave and it is his business how he treats those lesser than him.

    All Bork had to do to defend himself was to tell Kennedy in a publicized Senate hearing that ‘he wouldn’t have callously left a girl to die for his own personal enjoyment and safety’.

    But no, Republicans aren’t mean. They aren’t ruthless. They’re just prey. And I despise prey.

    Power is what matters. Who has it, how it is distributed and obtained, and how it is maintained. Democracy does not matter. Elections do not matter. The matter of power matters. The matter of how leaders are selected to wield that power matters. The functionality of how power is used, does not matter compared to the functionality of how power is gained and maintained.

    That is what the Kennedies and the Demoncrats taught me. And I thank them for that knowledge, as I thank terrorists for teaching me the value of violence, killing, and faith. I thank them because it has made me more capable of terminating them than I would have been, had I not learned a thing, had I continued to live in a sheltered and ignorant world of Hollywood culture and Academic lethargy.

    I have nothing against learning from others. Serial killers, con-artists, criminals in prison, gangsters, terrorists, Osama, Obama, Ted Kennedy, Clinton, anyone and anything. So long as it makes me closer to reality, to the truth of what is important and what is not important. And of course, I dare to say that I wish to become better, if only theoretically, than my instructors. A student must eventually use what they have learned to surpass their masters, after all. That’s human nature or at least human history.

  • Tiresias

    I have never supposed, just as a matter of philosophy, that there’s any such thing as a “don’t speak ill of the dead” rule. When someone’s been a life-long $%#@%!! and they die, what you have is a dead $%#@%!!

    The act of conking out does not by itself expunge a lifetime of

    If there’s one form of hypocrisy I can’t tolerate it’s sentimental regard for the dead, simply because they are dead. To hear some people talk at a funeral – or in the news on this occasion – one would suppose dying was limited to the chosen few.

  • BrianE

    It is important that conservatives counterbalance the misplaced adulation by the left over what Ted Kennedy’s effect was and will be to America.
    I found this piece on Hot Air very disturbing. I think it’s important for anyone who might be visiting this blog and misunderstand why conservatives were so disgusted by the man, in addition to opposed to his policies, to click on the link and listen to the audio.

    Ed Klein, being interviewed on the Diane Rhem show, said that Kennedy privately often asked if anyone had heard any new Chappaquiddick jokes.

    I don’t know if you know this or not, but one of his favorite topics of humor was indeed Chappaquiddick itself. And he would ask people, “have you heard any new jokes about Chappaquiddick?” That is just the most amazing thing. It’s not that he didn’t feel remorse about the death of Mary Jo Kopechne, but that he still always saw the other side of everything and the ridiculous side of things, too.

    If this passes for balance by the left, please excuse my nausea. It would be one thing for him to have come to peace with himself over her death, but should it have been “one of his favorite topics”?
    I’m sure it was a defense mechanism and indicates to me one of two things: Kennedy never did come to terms with his actions leading to and following the accident, or his conscience was so seared, either prior to or after the accident, as to be rendered mute.
    You can listen to it here:

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