Eminentoes

Teddy Kennedy: History Lessons

A hollow legacy with nowhere to go.

By 9.3.09

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In the wake of the death of Senator Edward Kennedy, many verbal monuments have been erected to his memory. During the days-long outburst of love from a truly grieved national media, we were treated to endless references to his vaunted reputation as "the lion of the Senate," a citation of unknown origin. But I prefer a lesser known but more oxymoronically correct sobriquet; "the conscience of American progressivism." Of course, one of the strangest is the allusion to President Barack Obama as "the last Kennedy brother," a pretty risible statement, even were it not coined by the comical Chris Matthews.

In some ways, though, it's true that there doesn't seem to be a legitimate heir to carry the family torch, such as it has become; it seems the bloom is off the Kennedy wild Irish rose. So perilous is the situation, that the dying Teddy himself was forced to address the looming interregnum. Time will tell whether Democratic attempts to circumvent the law they themselves crafted in 2004 when John F. Kerry's seat was hoped to be vacant will succeed, but this merely points out that the Kennedy cachet may be fading with the public.

But there are no two ways about it: the mainstream media is, and probably always will be, in love with the Kennedy clan in a way that they could never be with another. Long ago dubbed as "American royalty," theirs is a story of which liberal journalists' dreams are made. Unlike the puritanical Adams family which served the nation for nearly two hundred years, the Kennedys made their mark in only one generation, but it was one with which the media is truly and hopelessly infatuated. The Bushes? Hopelessly bland and whitebread, and besides; they are Republicans, certainly not the stuff of mythical legend like Camelot.

And yes, the Kennedy legacy does resemble Camelot; a fictional kingdom in which reside knights in shining armor as well as rogues; but I'll leave it to history to decide which were which. But sadly for some, that Camelot turned out not to be such a congenial spot for happily-ever-aftering for the kingly Kennedys as envisioned by their loyal subjects in the media.

For, while liberals love to cite history, they have a convenient way of forgetting it; especially when it comes to our "royal family." It was King John who submerged this country into the Vietnam War because of his hatred for Communism and who was an enthusiastic tax cutter. And it was his younger sibling, Prince Robert, who wire-tapped Martin Luther King and also famously hounded and prosecuted organized labor thugs. Add to this that JFK was assassinated by a pathetic Communist sympathizer and RFK was gunned down by a PLO supporter because of his support for Israel and you get the picture.

And yet in later years, dauphin-by-default Teddy and his friends cling to Communist regimes, carry big labor in their back pockets, and think anyone who favors tax cuts should be dispatched immediately to hell. And here we must also mention "last brother" Obama, whose buddy Bill Ayers dedicated his Marxist manifesto, "Prairie Fire," to Sirhan Sirhan whom Ayers considered, along with others, a "political prisoner." Needless to say, support for Israel among the last few Kennedy brothers has been, shall we say, scant.

But as often happens, history can be tinged with irony. One of the left's greatest legacies is the notion of entitlement through victimhood. They have, over the years, turned Kennedy's involvement in the death of Mary Jo Kopechne into a tragedy for Teddy himself; as if it were he, and not that poor young girl, whose life ended that night so long ago. But as history has its own sense ironic humor, his post-Chappaquiddick campaign defeat gave us Jimmy Carter on a platter and thus, Ronald Reagan.

And it was another ironic twist of Kennedy history that served to benefit the country in a way not intended by the late senator. We all remember his successful bid to ruin the reputation of Robert Bork; an infamy he would have surely repeated during the Clarence Thomas-Anita Hill hearings, were he not hamstrung by his own involvement with nephew William Kennedy Smith's rape trial.

Will irony and history combine to sound the final death knell to the Kennedy saga? In their best "win one for the Gipper" voices, supporters of the imposition of government-run health care on an increasingly wary nation have issued the clarion call to "win one for Teddy." This tactic recalls the unfortunate Paul Wellstone memorial service's numerous exhortations to "win it for Paul!" Let us hope that the former will turn out as disastrously for liberals as did the latter, as history does tend to repeat itself.

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About the Author

Lisa Fabrizio is a columnist who hails from Connecticut (mailbox@lisafab.com).