Sunday, August 30, 2009

An Inopportune Time to Bring Up a Long Standing Peeve

Not to speak ill of the dead, but what is with Ted Kennedy getting lionized? I've never understand why he was allowed to continue being a senator after essentially committing involuntary manslaughter, and now people want to name universal health care after him? I prolly agree with most of his politics, but, fuck, Chappaquiddick was as fucked up as any other political scandal of which I'm familiar.

I really wasn't going to say anything, but then this post at GG's came up talking about dynasties. Anyone notice a couple of names missing from the list?

Again, I know, it's the wrong time to bring it up, and I wouldn't if not for the fact that everyone is being more than just deferential to the deceased and instead praising Kennedy as if he were some spotless hero. I really hate that people on my side can be as blind as people on the other side.

Am I missing something here?

brad adds:

I've seen very little praising as a spotless hero. No, they did not mention Kopechne at the funeral, but that would have been inappropriate. But I've seen plenty from both left and right reminding us of that evening and his failure. And, frankly, there are a lot of dead hookers in the past of a lot of politicians, not to slander Kopechne*, but Kennedy is merely the one who got caught. And if you think you know everything about that night you're fooling yourself. Nothing is simple when a Kennedy is involved.
Whatever the man did, the political entity Ted Kennedy was the head of liberalism in the US government for decades. His staff was a force to be reckoned with on the Hill, and he was a playboy drunk who made pretty for the cameras but used his position to put people who actually could do good in place to do so. Love him or hate him, we're better off for him having been there, and that's the legacy we're remembering and mourning. That multicultural Berkeley you live in wouldn't be there if he hadn't modernized immigration law, for example.
Honestly, I don't agree with this post at all, I just don't see where the indignation is justified.

*- this means I wasn't calling this poor woman a whore, 'k anon? Neither am I saying whores are somehow less human than a woman who didn't work in that industry, which I mean nonsnarkily.


M. Bouffant said...

I'll go along w/ you.

Accidents happen, but Kennedy really did screw up badly after it happened, & the justice (or judicial) system of Massachusetts, or at least the jurisdiction involved, didn't come off very well either.

Just one of the reasons I'm against (Easy for me to say!) wealth, privilege & political power/influence.

NutellaonToast said...

I didn't grow up in Berkeley. I grew up in NJ.

I really want to resist arguing here, but I have to object to the idea that there are mountains of dead hookers staining the halls of the Senate. I am as cynical as the next guy, but have a hard time believing that too many of them would act as recklessly in the face of life or death as Kennedy did. I doubt many of them have ever been FACED with such decisions at all.

Even assuming that others ARE killing young women, I can do nothing about that which I am unaware. I can do something about which I am.

Whatever happened that night that cannot be known, what IS known is enough to sour me to Ted. He left a young woman trapped inside his car underwater for hours without notifying the authorities. He also convinced others to refrain from contacting them as well. That's negligent homicide to me. I had enough decency to call the cops after I hit an old Ford that was parked on the street, and no one's life was at stake.

brad said...

You didn't go to boarding school.
Rich people = date rape and accidental deaths hushed up. Always assume that what you don't know is far worse than what you do. There's a lot of politicians who are where they are because someone with real power knows where the bodies are buried and thus can control them. The only thing that changed when Hoover died was the decentralization of blackmail worthy knowledge. If you do anything but assume the very worst of our elected officials you're making a grave mistake.

No one has defended his actions that night, or called them anything but wrong. But like it or not he stayed in office, and did good in it. The man himself is immaterial to me, the loss of his seniority and thus, no matter who fills his post, loss of power for his staff is what makes me sad.

Anonymous said...

If you think that the Kennedys should have been mentioned in GG's post, then you missed his point entirely. The hypocrisy of those he cited was central to that point. As Glenn wrote in the comments:

"I find it extra annoying when beneficiaries of such things hold themselves out as beacons of merit and demand that nobody else benefit from any non-merit-based factors (such as affirmative action).[...]Did the Kennedys do that? I don't believe they did."

brad said...

I don't mean anything aggressively, I just don't agree, just in case.

NutellaonToast said...

Anon: I was unaware that Luke Russert and some of the others were meritocracy leg humpers...

NutellaonToast said...

brad: I think I see your point, but I still don't agree that people aren't elevating him at least a little. Being cynical enough to say that no politician will ever be a remotely good person is one thing, but using that as an excuse to ignore the bad that they do is another.

The coverage from the left has been mostly reverential to some degree (certainly not negative). I prefer irreverence, or if that's to crass in the face of death, at least indifference.

I mean, honestly, if it had been Bush, would you have said it didn't matter?

Mr. Wonderful said...

All eulogies are overstatements. It's possible nobody at those services, either speaking or listening, really felt the things being proclaimed. And that everyone who knew him was as ambivalent about him as I am/we are. More so, in fact, since as you all are saying, the more you knew, the worse the things you knew.

I bravely agree with everyone here: it's an unseemly display of revisionism, to lionize him in light of what we know AND it's a necessary public ritual, and not to be taken literally.

Oh, and, as always (gives secret high-sign), Fire Megan McArdle.

Susan of Texas said...

It takes distance to deal with these things. We let ourselves admire and even adore the work of people who often have done awful things. I admire Voltaire's writings but don't admire his racism. If I knew him I probably couldn't bear to read his work.

NutellaonToast said...

Yeah, maybe I'm just misinterpreting admiration for his work as admiration for the man. It's hard to tell, prolly for both the listener and the speaker.

Damn us humans and our inability to compartmentalize.

jp said...

I like to point out that Laura Bush is guilty of exactly the same number of vehicular homicides as Ted Kennedy, but no one ever brings that up.

Yes, the rich & well-placed get away with murder, and some "get away" even more than others.

Anonymous said...

"not to slander Kopechne,"

Yes, you did slander her. Mary Jo Kopechne, from New Jersey, had been a school teacher in a Catholic school in Montgomery, Alabama, a secretary and then a campaign worker for Robert Kennedy, after his death a campaign worker for George McGovern, and then a political consultant in a mayoral race in New Jersey. At the time of her death she lived in Washington, DC and was on Martha's Vineyard for a reunion of campaign workers in Robert Kennedy's campaign.

NutellaonToast said...

That really doesn't preclude her being a whore, ya know.

Just saying.

Anonymous said...

"I was unaware that Luke Russert and some of the others were meritocracy leg humpers..."

In print and on tv, Tim Russert regularly celebrated his working class background, crediting his blue collar work ethic for his rise to prominence. Once in that position, he became a notorious for his sycophancy and cronyism.

Wouldn't this explain why his son was included on the list?

brad said...

So I should have explicitly said I wasn't calling her one, for slow minds like yours?