Whitewashing The Oldsmobile

Mark Hemingway writes:

Carl M. Cannon has a terrific and thoughtful column on Ted Kennedy’s failings that really must be read. He does his best to acknowledge Kennedy was a generous man and competent politician, but ultimately Cannon says he’s concerned that many are trying to whitewash his profound failings:

Liberals in the media pretend not to see this. Or rather, they blame those who feel aggrieved. This very morning, my old friend James Fallows of The Atlantic Monthly employed the usual euphemisms about Kennedy’s behavior in his post – and then launched a preemptive strike against anyone who might view Teddy’s life with gimlet eyes. “A flawed man, who started unimpressively in life — the college problems, the silver-spoon boy senator, everything involved with Chappaquiddick — but redeemed himself, in the eyes of all but the committed haters, with his bravery and perseverance and commitment to the long haul,” Fallows wrote.

I like Jim Fallows, and stand in awe of Kennedy’s effectiveness as a politician myself. But hold on a minute: The “college problems” were serial cheating. The “silver-spoon” stuff, I suppose refers to, among other things, the speeding and reckless driving that ominously foreshadowed Chappaquiddick. And that phrase “redeeming himself in the eyes of all but the committed haters,” well, the problem with that is that to many people, redemption implies that a sinner has come clean.

Further, Cannon makes the salient point that the actual facts involved in the Chappaquiddick rarely enter the debate over Kennedy because they are so indefensible and uncomfortable for liberals. He goes into the whole incident in detail:

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

But read the whole piece. You won’t be disappointed. And on a related note, Robert P. George wrote an excellent (as usual) column for NRO on Chappaquiddick just a few weeks ago. It’s also highly recommended.


Meanwhile, “ABC Buries Harsh Kennedy Obit, One That Labels Him a ‘Failure,’ in the Middle of the Night.”


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