Thursday, August 27, 2009

Something I didn't know about Teddy Kennedy

I haven't commented previously on Senator Kennedy's passing, mostly because I had disagreed with so much of what he stood for and didn't want to take the opportunity of the man's passing to bash his record. There is a time for that, but not this week. On the other hand, I don't see why we should pass a mammoth, poorly thought out program that he supported simply because the man died. Every one of us would have to live with the results of these health care plans for decades. It's too important to pass out of sentiment.

I feel for his many friends and family. Despite being born into a privileged life, he also endured more family tragedies than most of us can imagine enduring seeing three brothers and a sister die well before their time.

Michael Barone has a nice reflection
on the Senator's political career.

Nick Gillespie of Reason Magazine takes a look at Senator Kennedy's legislative career. While the signature legislation that is getting all the talk in the obituaries reflect Kennedy's worldview that the federal government was the proper instrument to improve every aspect of our lives through top-down management plans, here is one aspect of that record I hadn't known before.
There is, buried deep within Kennedy's legislative legacy, a different set of policies worth exhuming and examining, precisely because they were truly a break with the normal way of doing business in Washington. During the 1970s, Kennedy was instrumental in deregulating the interstate trucking industry and airline ticket prices, two innovations that have vastly improved the quality of life in America even as—or more precisely, because—they pushed power out of D.C. and into the pocketbooks of everyday Americans. We are incalculably richer and better off because something like actual prices replaced regulatory fiat in trucking and flying. Because they do not fit the Ted Kennedy narrative preferred by his admirers and detractors alike, these accomplishments rarely get mentioned in stories about the late senator. But they are exactly the sort of legislation that we should be celebrating in his honor, and using as a model in today's debates about health care, education, and virtually every aspect of government action.
That's the senator I'd prefer to commemorate, but I know that that is not the one we'll be hearing about for the next few days.

UPDATE: Susan Estrich, who worked for the Senator does a good job of expressing what was admirable about Teddy Kennedy and should be a lesson to anyone seeking to make a mark in politics. He persevered. Through the tragedies, the jokes, the ups and downs of political fortunes, he kept at it. There's a lesson for everyone there.


tfhr said...

I heard it said that we build statues to commemorate the dead, not statutes.

ic said...

"...why we should pass a mammoth, poorly thought out program that he supported simply because the man died"

To forever bound us to the dead.
To punish us for ridicuing the dead when he was still kicking.

Pat Patterson said...

I noticed that PM Gordon Brown also sent condolences but couched in very careful language. In Britain Sen Kennedy was primarily known as the brother of the real Kennedy and an unabashed supporter of the P-IRA for decades. At least he lived long enough to see them fail to accomplish anything meaningful except to sanitize a few pols and take over the drug trade in Ulster and the North Counties of Eire.

mark said...

For all his faults, Ted Kennedy worked passionately for his beliefs until the day he died.
He also spoke out eloquently against going to war in Iraq and voted on his principles instead of caving as so many democrats did. If only more dems had followed his lead.
I hope the people here who were taking cheap shots and mocking a dying man last weekend regret their words.
What happened on the bridge was an act of cowardice, but he was courageous in many ways during his life.

Dave said...

mark, can you say something generous about George W Bush?

Just wonderin'.

mark said...

I purposely didn't mention Bush in my post, but sure....

I'm sure he'll be a far better ex-president than president.

I've also called him a decent man (who allowed himself to be grossly misled).

Pat Patterson said...

Since mark brought it up it might be wise to remember that when Sen Kennedy was truly tested he folded like a house of cards and then spent the rest of his life making easy choices while representing a small and irresponsible state. May he rest in peace!

fboness said...

There was a time when Teddy supported Noraid. There was also a time when Teddy, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, John Carey, and Tip O'Nealmade a joint statement in favor of peaceful resolution in Northern Ireland.

tfhr said...


Please take the bait and elaborate:

"I've also called him a decent man (who allowed himself to be grossly misled)."

Otherwise we call that a back-handed compliment.

Skay said...

Ed Klein(close friend of Kennedy) said on the Diane Rhem show--

" I don’t know if you know this or not, but one of his favorite topics of humor was indeed Chappaquiddick itself. And he would ask people, “have you heard any new jokes about Chappaquiddick?” That is just the most amazing thing. It’s not that he didn’t feel remorse about the death of Mary Jo Kopechne, but that he still always saw the other side of everything and the ridiculous side of things, too."

Amazing is the word.

equitus said...

The biggest complaints I have about T. Kennedy do not have to do with his personal frailties or his political philosophy. What I can't stand is the total pass he would always get from the major news organizations, who chose to routinely cover up his indiscretions. That's been infuriating.

mark said...

Sorry, tfhr, but I'm just not feeling the need to "elaborate" or justify my post to someone who thinks mocking a dying man is acceptable.
But here's another positive for Bush: I doubt he would ever make fun of a person on his deathbed. Then again, not too many people would sink to that level of dishonor and indecency, so I guess it's not too much of a compliment.

Skay said...

"And he would ask people, “have you heard any new jokes about Chappaquiddick?”

Ted did not seem to have a problem with joking with his friends about an incident in which he was responsible for the death of a young woman, Mark.

tfhr said...


You're so sensitive.

Does it bother you at all that his "colleagues" on the left have hardly allowed the body to cool before they dragged it through the streets with an Obama sticker on it?

If you think I've mocked a man that used his family name, wealth, and influence to evade justice for the negligent homicide (and that is giving him some benefit of the doubt) of his passenger, just wait until I get around to some of the finery in his political resume.

That people can fawn over that bastard because his brothers were murdered is just amazing to me. And before you start off on another crying jag over my bad manners, just consider the Ed Klein comments provided above by Skay. Bad taste? Mockery? Yeah, that pretty well describes the man but it's still too generous.

mark said...

To say that people "fawn" over him just because his brothers were killed is absurd and a pathetic excuse to give cover to your pitiful mocking.
He accomplished much in his career and many people are grateful to him. I understand that you and others didn't agree with what he did, but to say he did nothing is idiotic.
Even Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck held their tongues and showed some class the day he died.
BTW, Despite your claim of military service, your recent condoning of torture (to paraphrase you, 'Anything the govt. does that saves American lives' is justified), coupled with Kennedy's opposition to torture, makes him a better man and better American than you can ever hope to be. Kennedy had many faults, but to the end, he stayed true to American values.

Pat Patterson said...

Spoken like someone that has absolutely no knowledge of how American military formations have behaved since and before the beginning of the country. Starting at Prince Phillip's War and up to an including todays combat. There never has been one single period when either officially or unofficially that the American military didn't make live difficult or fatal for captives. Are they now all to be labeled unAmerican?

tfhr said...


Quote me if you can but don't give me your BS paraphrasing because I never said any such thing. For instance, I never said, "Rounding up idiots like mark would save lives", even though useful tools like yourself do present a hazard.

This: "claim of military service". You are cordially invited to my retirement ceremony on 30 September 2009. Meet me at Fort Belvoir. When the the colors are retired at the end of the day, so am I. I'll just be another happy civilian.

But let me tell you I'm proud of what I've done in the service of my country and of the many good people I've served alongside, spanning the past three decades. People like you have been disparaging us for as far back as I can remember but to no avail. We still defend this country when people like you cannot be bothered.

No, the really horrendous damage can be done when a low life scumbag like Ted Kennedy, with all of his power and access decides to put his personal political ambitions ahead of the country. How's that? When Ted Kennedy, hopeful Presidential aspirant, approached Yuri Andropov with an offer to help counter American foreign policy, he proved to me that he was as responsible and clear-headed as a Senator as he was as a driver.

Read this article for starters:

Here's a few "highlights", if you want to call them that:

"Picking his way through the Soviet archives that Boris Yeltsin had just thrown open, in 1991 Tim Sebastian, a reporter for the London Times, came across an arresting memorandum. Composed in 1983 by Victor Chebrikov, the top man at the KGB, the memorandum was addressed to Yuri Andropov, the top man in the entire USSR. The subject: Sen. Edward Kennedy."

"[Kennedy]...proposed an unabashed quid pro quo. Kennedy would lend Andropov a hand in dealing with President Reagan. In return, the Soviet leader would lend the Democratic Party a hand in challenging Reagan in the 1984 presidential election. 'The only real potential threats to Reagan are problems of war and peace and Soviet-American relations,' the memorandum stated. 'These issues, according to the senator, will without a doubt become the most important of the election campaign.'"

mark, how can you be proud of something like that? WTF?!

Here's some more:

"Kennedy would help the Soviets deal with Reagan by telling them how to brush up their propaganda."

"Kennedy would make certain the networks gave Andropov air time--and that they rigged the arrangement to look like honest journalism."

I bet JFK would have been proud of his sell out brother, don't you?
That's the thing, actually, compared to his youngest, twit of a brother, JFK was as conservative as Reagan!

But the liberal's liberal, Ted Kennedy, started his offer to help the Soviets even before Reagan took office. "Kennedy offered to speak out against President Carter on Afghanistan. Shortly thereafter he made public speeches opposing President Carter on this issue."

I find it interesting that he used a confidential go-between to carry on this underhanded effort but he also proposed a visit to Moscow in order to help Andropov help him. How cozy.

I was wondering why he didn't do the same with the Ayatollah but then I guess the whole "dry" thing about Iran and alcohol must have disinterested him.

mark said...

So what? Many of our founding fathers owned slaves. Do you want to make a case for slavery, also? We have evolved in our thinking. Slavery was wrong. Torture is wrong. Even if we knew for sure that torture worked where other methods fail, it is not a trade-off a great country makes.

You absolutely did claim that any action by the govt. was justified if it saved American lives. I followed up by asking if that included "nanny-state" policies about what we could eat and drink, driving, etc. You neglected to reply. I'm glad that you at least regret your comment enough to deny making it.
Congratulations on retiring from the military, but I'll have to pass on the invite. You'll be joining John Kerry as fellow veterans. You both deserve respect and gratitude for serving our country.


Pat Patterson said...

I'm making the case for human nature as it is not some watered down Scientific Socialism that suggests that its only a lack of trying and ignoring our betters that we constantly fail. Slavery is not the same thing and its simply a cheap and easy analogy to suggest such.

I understand Kennedy for running off and leaving his paramour to drown better than the years of supposedly fighting the good fight in front of an outlier state. He ran and everything he did after is tainted with that cowardice.

tfhr said...


As I say with Biddle, document or STFU.

This is crap:

"You absolutely did claim that any action by the govt. was justified if it saved American lives."


But if you believe that I did not respond to whatever outlandish comment you may have made because you think I was in agreement somehow, then let me take this opportunity to explain to you that sometimes your comments are so inane that they refute themselves on their own.

As for John Kerry, who served in Vietnam, and was for the military before he was against the military and then for the military when military service became popular again on the campaign trail, except when it comes to fighting a war he was for before he was against it, I'll stick with today's "everything is about Kennedy" theme and remind you that we've had a few very bad apples come through the ranks, including Lee Harvey Oswald. But they cannot diminish the accomplishments of those that served this country loyally, though it saddens us greatly to see what these few troubled individuals go on to do later in life because they were deemed unfit or otherwise incapable of meeting the challenges, standards, and obligations of military life and service.

When Kerry lied in front of the Congress about make believe atrocities, I think he thought he was so convincing that he actually convinced himself that he could return to the same forum and tell lies just as effectively from the other side of the table if others would allow it. Apparently, liars are well respected in Massachusetts for their skills in the Senate.

tfhr said...


One more thing - I happened to pick up a copy of the WaPo today on the way back home from Ocean City and was amazed to see a story that laid out the success that waterboarding yielded with KSM.

Locomotive Breath linked to it in an earlier thread. You should read the article. Imagine...people you know might be alive today because KSM talked.

equitus said...

tfhr, if I were religious I'd thank
God that our nation has citizens like you willing to commit their lives to protecting our freedoms. Thank you thank you thank you for your service, and welcome to civilian life.

And I know it will be effortless for you to refrain from false accusations of atrocities by our troops and from conferring secretly with the enemy, unlike one particular other veteran whom I won't name here.

Skay said...

"coupled with Kennedy's opposition to torture, makes him a better man and better American than you can ever hope to be."

"WASHINGTON — Khalid Sheikh Mohammed proudly confessed to a U.S. military tribunal that he "decapitated with my blessed right hand the head of the American Jew, Daniel Pearl," more than five years after the American reporter's execution was shown in a video, according to a transcript released by the Pentagon."

Kennedy was sympathetic to the "misunderstood" terrorists who have no problems killing others by torture-- yet he fought continously by some of the most despicable misrepresentations of honorable men in judicial hearings to try to be sure that millions of inconvenient innocents who have no voice could and would continue to be killed daily.
These are American values turned upside down


Congratulations on your upcomming retirement. You absolutely do deserve respect and gratitude for serving our country so well. You and the people that you serve with are the best of the best.

foxmarks said...

When his legacy is used as justification for legislation, that legacy is properly put into the public discourse. It becomes a premise of the argument, and all premises must be tested before an argument is proven sound.

Maybe mark nobly wanted some respect and reverence, but to honor Ted’s perseverance and courage, I am not going to withdraw from the fight because someone’s feelings might get hurt.

His legacy is apt, perhaps, because good intentions (like free healthcare) usually have hideous costs. Let’s look at everyone who suffered at Ted’s hands, not just those who took Ted’s handouts.

I think Ted Kennedy makes a much better ex-human than human.

tfhr said...

equitus & Skay,

Wow, I wasn't expecting any of that. It is humbling beyond words to be appreciated for doing something you love.

Thank you for providing the support that makes it all possible.

Pat Patterson said...

Sorry to be so tardy but I also would like to thank you for your service to the nation and your fellow citizens. And unlike Belisarius you will not be fogotten.

tfhr said...

Pat Patterson,

Thank you. And like wise to you for your Coast Guard service.

I wonder if Belisarius' eye-sight issue would have run him afoul of the Byzantine Veterans Administration (how's that for redundancy?) equivalent of the day.