Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Kennedy Curse

In the warm glow and aftermath of the annual Christmas celebrations, it may appear unseemly to post an article such as the one which follows. However, in this interval between holidays, it is traditional to look back upon significant events in the preceding year. In the course of that review, I came across this entry on Liberty by Stephen Cox.

Mr. Cox states in far more comprehensive and eloquent words than I could ever muster, an unvarnished look at the late senior senator from Massachusetts. For those too young to have followed his career in real time you will find Mr. Cox’s appraisal (and mine) quite enlightening.

“The Kennedy Curse

It is said that people make gods in their own likeness. If that is true, what kind of people created Edward Kennedy (1932–2009)?

Kennedy’s biological father was a goatish, pro-fascist crook whose politics were chiefly motivated by Irish-American nationalism and the desire to make one or more of his children president, for no other reason than that they were his children. His mother was a twisted religious bigot. (“Dad was the spark,” Teddy recalled; “Mother was the light of our lives.”) Their children were all, to one degree or another, seriously damaged by their domineering parents. One of the children was lobotomized by a father disgusted by her mental “slowness.” The others were deformed by the assumption that the only way to amount to anything was to achieve power over others. A more vicious premise can hardly be imagined. It is fortunate that at least one of them — John F. Kennedy — knew better, although his life was still grievously influenced by his father’s political ambitions and his lessons in sexual aggression.

Teddy, youngest male of the family, was a person of average intelligence and below-average capability, darkly overshadowed by his older brothers. He got Cs at prep school but was admitted to Harvard because his family was rich. At Harvard he was caught cheating and expelled. At the University of Virginia Law School he was ticketed for reckless driving four times and received the kind of punishment that the children of wealthy fixers generally receive.

In 1962, after a one-year career as assistant to the district attorney of Suffolk County, Massachusetts, he was elected to the Senate of the United States, for no other reason than that his father was rich and his brother was president. He was 30 years old, and he held the job for the rest of his life.

In 1969, he hosted a party on Chappaquiddick Island, MA, for some girls who had worked for his brother Robert’s presidential campaign the previous year. Drunk, he took one of the girls out in his car and drove the car off a bridge. While his companion struggled for life in the overturned vehicle, Kennedy extricated himself, ignored the lights in a nearby house, fled across the island, swam an inlet, and returned to his hotel. In the morning, other people discovered the car and the dead girl, and Kennedy finally reported his association with the event, after soliciting advice from the kind of statesmen who flock around money and power. He went on television to deliver the first of many lachrymose speeches in which he urged people to support him because his brothers were dead. And Massachusetts voters did support him. They reelected him eight times.

During the following years, Kennedy repeatedly ran or threatened to run for the presidency, convinced that a person who had no work experience, no relevant education, no analytical ability, no sense of morality, no qualifications of any sort except his association with a wealthy family, had a duty to become the nation’s chief executive. He failed ignominiously. Eventually he gave it up, having discovered that even so incompetent and unpopular a figure as Jimmy Carter could beat him handily. Strangely, political pundits were incapable of reaching the same conclusion. For the rest of his life they considered Kennedy the idol of the American people.

After magnanimously relinquishing the presidency, Teddy devoted himself to his four favorite pursuits: drinking, eating, womanizing, and pushing people around (“legislating”). Like other people who know just enough to understand that there is always someone dumber than they are, Kennedy played the demagogue to an audience of poor people and Hollywood liberals, making violent speeches in which he denounced all who opposed his policies as racists and sexists. Then, in private, he cuddled up to Republican politicians who had no qualms about selling out their party. Together, they produced “compromise legislation” that (imagine!) gave Kennedy virtually everything he had originally wanted. (The press lauded this as “bipartisanship.”)

Kennedy’s constant desire was to increase the power of government. Always he advocated state power, from the days when he demanded universal conscription to the days when he demanded racial quotas for hiring (“quotas, shmotas” was his contemptuous dismissal of those who objected to this patent inequity) to the days when he moved heaven and earth to impose government healthcare on an unwilling populace. He could not be troubled to read a book, consult experience, or consider the logical implications of the things he wanted. He just wanted them, because they gratified his ego, no matter what the costs might be to others. He had money, so he wanted power. He was a wicked man, a thousand times more wicked than the man who holds up a 7-Eleven, desiring only the cash that’s in the till.

In 2008, Kennedy developed brain cancer. Instead of resigning the duties he could no longer fulfill, he kept on being a senator, using his remaining days to demand more government, plan a heroic funeral, and try to get his home state to change its electoral laws so that a clone could be inserted in his place. He died on August 25, before he could do any more harm. President Obama, in his funeral oration, called him “the greatest legislator of our time” and “the soul of the Democratic Party.”

Soul. Can it be that this ranting, bloated, red-faced drunk was the soul of anything?

It staggers the imagination. Yet this was the hero of the academics and the intellectuals. This was the organism over which National Public Radio claimed “the nation is in mourning.” This was the entity that prompted Yahoo News to run a headline in this form: “Throughout history, Kennedys have grieved losses in public” — as if the Kennedys had, like gods, existed from the dawn of time, making spectacles of themselves to mortals and reveling in their attention.

All of this is embarrassing to contemplate. But the biggest embarrassments are the teachers and commentators, the political leaders and self-proclaimed idealists, who created Edward Moore Kennedy in the image of their highest aspirations. — Stephen Cox “

Now that you have waded through this evisceration of Sen. Kennedy; don’t you feel better? I do! Now go and prepare to enjoy a prosperous and happy New Year.

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon

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