It’s a curious spectable. The Left turns someone who left a young lady to die in a car accident into an icon. Then after some of us remember the bad as well as the good about the man’s life and character, his groupies shout outrage. They might want to ponder just a minute the life that Mary Jo Kopechne might have led had she not died as a result of Sen. Kennedy’s recklessness and negligence 40 Julys ago. As Stacy McCain observed:
When news broke that Ted Kennedy had died, many people had a reaction quite similar to my own: “Mary Jo Kopechne could not be reached for comment.” It’s an old line I’d used often over the years whenever Teddy made news. While I thought I’d stolen it from Ann Coulter, someone else said it actually originated more than two decades ago as a Chevy Chase punchline on Saturday Night Live.
Far more current is the political, rather than moral, scandal of the Senator’s last public utterance: his hypocritical call for the selection of his replacement by the governor through appointment rather than by the people through special election. Even a few Democrats are uncomfortable with this rush to let the politicians substitute their preferences for that of the public–the very people who Sen. Kennedy and others supposedly spent their lives defending. Reports the Wall Street Journal:
The question of how to fill Mr. Kennedy’s seat is vexing Democrats. In 2004, Mr. Kennedy supported a special election rather than a gubernatorial appointment. Yet more recently, he wrote to Mr. Patrick and legislative leaders, urging that Massachusetts give the governor the power to appoint an interim successor.
Mr. Kennedy wrote that the governor should receive “an explicit personal commitment” from the appointee not to become a candidate in the special election. Mr. Patrick has supported the idea, and brushes aside concerns that Democrats were being inconsistent: “Massachusetts needs two voices in the United States Senate,” he said this week.
In 2004, Democrats took the opposite tack. When some Republicans complained of the cost of a special election, Democratic Rep. William Straus said such reasoning might have been used in a “totalitarian country” and that “one person, whoever happens to be governor, will not make the decision for you.”
In an interview Thursday, Mr. Straus stood by his words, saying he recently heard from many other Democrats who feel Mr. Patrick is making a mistake.
Mr. Straus said there always will be a pressing issue in Washington that seems more important than having an election. “We need to hold ourselves to the higher principles of democracy,” he said.
Massachusetts state Sen. Brian A. Joyce, a Democrat who headed the election-laws committee in 2004, agreed. “If we were to allow an appointment, it would be wholly undemocratic,” he said. “When you cut through the rhetoric on both sides, it’s pure partisan politics.”
There’s nothing new about politicians switching sides for rank political purposes. But the Senator’s conduct should be kept in mind as the encomiums about his “principles” flow. Yes, he was an ideological liberal. But he also was a hypocritical pol little different than so many of his colleagues in Washington and Massachusetts. And his final public action was to push to strip his constituents of their right to decide on his successor.
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