You were right, Ted Kennedy

One day in 1973, in his squeaky, pickled-vocal-chords baritone Ted Kennedy filled the Senate chamber with these words: “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?” His intent was rhetorical, because the answer was, and always has been, obvious: of course there are two classes, low and high. And no other modern politician took advantage of this fact more than did the mighty “lion of the senate.”

Here is his tale, which is one of woe, but cushioned throughout by the fact that the mighty are not allowed to fail.

He was a princeling in the House of Kennedy, a prominent and permanent institution of the Massachusetts aristocracy, when, at age thirty, his brother, who was then ascending to the crown, gifted his Senate seat to the young Tedward. It was clear to all that the young prince would not have won this position solely on his own merits—indeed, in spite of his demerits—that he cheated at his alma mater mattered not, for example. But he could, and did, point to his royal blood.

Not long after, when he was thirty-seven, came a drunken midnight drive on Chappaquiddick Island. He crashed and left his passenger for dead. Worse, he abandoned the scene, went home, called his lawyer, and slept off whatever guilt and ethanol he could. But this did not destroy the man. The aristocracy rose as one and made the problem go away.

Much later, as brothers will, he began to envy his dead sibling and sought to mimic his better’s example and so seek the kingly office. When asked, “Why should thou be anointed?”, his answer, “I am Kennedy”, satisfied few, except those ensconced in his fiefdom. He did not win. But he was not allowed to fail and he retained his seat.

Forlorn at his bitter defeat, he embraced strongly his vices. He drank to excess and often. He took and spent other people’s money liberally. He told lies about opponents in open session. He chased, cornered, caught, and copulated with women aplenty; one famous dalliance was conducted on the floor of restaurant in full view of the commoners. All this was forgiven because he was Kennedy, because he was solid on abortion, because—and only because—he was high and mighty.

Now he is dead, but he will be lauded and remembered fondly, more because of his status than what he has accomplished. For we must recall the tale of the counterfactual: while it true that this man has produced some benefit, just as he has certainly caused much harm, we are forced to ask what better and what different could have been had he, instead of joining the Senate, been farmed out to an ambassadorship in Latvia. These necessary ruminations will not be pleasant to the aristocracy and so they will be ignored.


  1. Ari

    Couldn’t the same be said for almost any politician (American or otherwise)? I mean, by this standard, I suspect we’d have a lot of Latvian ambassadors…

  2. Ari said: “Couldn’t the same be said for almost any politician”

    How many politicians do you know who were thrown out of school for cheating, were directly responsible for at least one death, and caught openly in the act of rape (to name but a few of the late swimmer’s acts).

    The man was human garbage and it is to America’s benefit he has left to to face Mary Jo and all the dead babies and Vietnamese, who will point him in the Down direction to Perdition’s flames.

  3. Bernie

    If one cannot say something nice about a person – especially the dead – one should say nothing. I will therefore say nothing.

  4. stan

    Ted Kennedy — what a rap sheet — Manslaughter, rape, academic fraud, election fraud, vicious slander and character assassination, collaboration with the evil empire (USSR) for base political motives. He was an alcoholic, drug addicted, serial adulterer, who treated women in general and his wife in particular like trash. He was one of the first to practice the politics of personal destruction and, as much as anyone in DC, responsible for the nasty ugliness that permeates American politics today.

  5. James S

    As somebody who has had family members killed and injured by Irish scum, all that I can say is good riddence to the terrorist loving murderer.

  6. Briggs

    Well, now, James S. Many—many—of us here in the states are Irish in part or in whole. I don’t think Sir Ted’s excesses had anything to do with his past European history. I think having bootleggers, thieves, and money-launderers accounts for it, especially seeing they were clever enough to get away with it.

    To everybody else, we have this, from the Onion.

  7. Tom


    I think James S was referring to the fund raising support Ted Kennedy provided to Sinn Fean over the years.

  8. Anne

    Good thing they haven’t found anyone in that giant clan to anoint as a successor. The most likely one, John-John succumbed to Darwinian causes (He thought he was too rich/smart to worry about weather). Carolyne is trying, but the clan chalice is only given to males.

  9. Hilfy

    Don’t forget the time when his personal bodyguards were caught sporting automatic weapons which are illegal to everyone else in this country. I do not support an American aristocracy full of people are never prosecuted for their crimes. That he remained in office for the entirety of my current life makes me ill.

  10. Briggs


    Maybe so, but then wouldn’t it have been better to say that instead?

  11. James S


    My comment on Irish scum is not to say that all Irish are scum; simply that there are some who are (most aren’t and I have had many great weekends away in Dublin).

    Unfortunately Ted Kennedy supported those that are scum by helping the IRA raise money in the USA in order to commit terrorist atrocities across the UK and kill and injure many innocent people (including members of my family and families of some of my friends).

    It is for this reason that I hope that there is a special place in hell reserved for him.

  12. Kevin

    I don’t see how anyone who was co-inventor of the “waitress sandwich” could rightly be called scum.

  13. Reed C

    On a personal level, a hypocrite (among others, a Catholic and an advocate of abortion rights) and an immoral man (many dalliances which resulted in at least one death). On a public level, his liberal policies are and always will be bad for the country. How can this country be anything but better off now that he has assumed room temperature?

  14. Bernie

    Here is a question:
    Who would you rather have a drink with John “Do you know who I am” Kerry or Ted “Do you know who I was” Kennedy? Why? No weasling out of this “devil’s bargain”.

  15. Briggs


    Over the weekend, I heard one of the mourners on the radio sobbing, “Oh, please, don’t let Camelot end!”

    But let us not forget the wise words of Monty Python: “On second thought, let’s not go to Camelot. It is a silly place. “

  16. As an Irish Catholic whenever I come across Americans referring to the Kennedys singly or as a group as “aristocracy” and “royalty” I find myself astonished not at the inappropriateness of these designations but by their (metaphorical) accuracy. The Gaelic aristocratic world was destroyed at the Battle of Kinsale (1601) – less than twenty miles from where I live – and the Irish Catholic nobility and gentry dispossessed and, in many cases, exiled during the 17th century. Foreign occupation, Penal Laws, impoverishment and contempt followed down all the days.

    In 1849, during the Great Famine, Patrick Kennedy, a poor peasant, left Dunganstown, County Wexford, for Boston, Massachusetts where he married and subsequently succumbed to cholera. His son became a successful businessman, his son became Ambassador to the Court of St. James and his son became President of the United States!

    What it took his countrymen back in Ireland two rebellions, a War of Independence and a Civil War to achieve, Patrick Kennedy accomplished by crossing the Atlantic

    Whatever about the individual and collective merits and otherwise of the Kennedys, their rise to such wealth and power and eminence shows us that the United States of America, warts and all, is truly “the best hope of the world”.

    And may it long continue to be so.

  17. Briggs


    My Ma’s Dad’s side is Irish, so I can boast of a green tint.

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