On yesterdayâ€™s Morning Joe program, MSNBC newsman Chris Matthews told host Joe Scarborough that with the death of Ted Kennedy, Senate Democrats have lost their inspirational and tactical leader in the fight to institute a government-run healthcare system. Said Matthews: â€œEverybody here is a student of history and weâ€™ve grown up with a lot of romance about the U.S. Senate.â€¦ I donâ€™t see a leader of that caliber on the Hill right now who can be the quarterback on the field, while perhaps this President calls in the plays. I donâ€™t see that quarterback.â€
It wasÂ a fascinating and, in many ways, an apt metaphor –Â to suggest that Kennedy was the quarterback, the man whoÂ determinedly coordinated and led his Senate teammates during legislative â€œcrunch time.â€ Certainly, for instance, a young Ted Kennedy was the quarterback who spearheaded the hundred-yard drive resulting in the passage of the 1965 Immigration Reform Act. That legislation shifted the balance of immigration heavily in favor of an influx fromÂ the Third World, which became the point of origin for some 85 percent ofÂ all theÂ legal immigrants who entered the U.S. between 1971 and 1990.Â The devastating effects of that development –Â effects which Kennedy promised wouldÂ never come to pass –Â were monstrous in terms of what theyÂ contributedÂ to crime rates and to the relentless expansion of the welfare state.
On July 18, 1969, Quarterback Kennedy was once again (literally, this time) in the driverâ€™s seat when, accompanied by a young woman named Mary Jo Kopechne, he accidentally drove his Oldsmobile off a wooden bridge and into a tide-swept pond on the Massachusetts island of Chappaquiddick; the vehicle came toÂ rest, upside down, under the water. Kennedy managed to escape with his life, but he left the young woman trapped inside the car to die.Â The senatorÂ quickly left the scene of the accident and, instead of promptly reporting what had occurred, spent the next ten hours concocting an alibi while hisÂ car lay unnoticed beneath the water.
Fourteen years later, during a particularly tense period of the Cold War,Â Kennedy employed the old â€œQuarterback Sneakâ€ play when he made secret overtures to theÂ Soviet intelligence agency, the KGB, in an unspeakably devious attempt to undermineÂ Ronald Reaganâ€™s presidency — at the risk of compromising American national security in the process. A highly classified May 14, 1983 letter from KGB head Viktor Chebrikov to Soviet General Secretary Yuri Andropov spoke of Kennedyâ€™s desire to stop Reaganâ€™s allegedly aggressive defense policies and to derail his 1984Â re-election bid.Â The letter also stated thatÂ Kennedy had recommended a number of PR moves to help the Soviets counter Reaganâ€™s â€œpropagandaâ€ and improve their image with the American public. Moreover, said Chebrikov, Kennedy himself had offered to travel to Moscow to meet with Andropov.
In 1987 Quarterback Kennedy was still going strong, rallyingÂ his fellow Senate Democrats in a bitter fight to prevent the confirmation of President Reaganâ€™s nominee for the Supreme Court, Robert Bork, whose originalist judicial philosophy — the idea that the Constitution is not a â€œliving documentâ€ subject to endless reinterpretation — Kennedy utterly rejected. Less than an hour after Borkâ€™s nomination, the “Quarterback” went to the Senate floor to deliver what was perhaps the mostÂ disgraceful pack of slanderous liesÂ ever spoken by an American politicianÂ :
â€œRobert Borkâ€™s America is a land in which women would be forced into back-alley abortions, blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters, rogue police could break down citizens’ doors in midnight raids, schoolchildren could not be taught about evolution, writers and artists could be censored at the whim ofÂ Government, and the doors of the Federal courts would be shut on the fingers of millions of citizens …â€
This, then, was Ted Kennedy — a politicalÂ competitor who specialized, above all else, in using his rhetorical “arm” to slingÂ mud recklessly at his adversaries while simultaneously engaging in self-aggrandizing exhibitions of moral preening.
His sub-specialties included:
- spearheading indefatigable legislative efforts that resulted in the passage of reckless laws (like the Immigration Reform Act of 1995) that would wreak havoc on American societyÂ for generations to come;
- engaging in obscenelyÂ reckless personal behavior (such as his legendary and well-confirmed drinking and womanizing) that often resulted in significant harm to other people, and for which Mary Jo Kopechne was forced to pay theÂ ultimate price; and
- recklessly putting his own political ambitionsÂ ahead of the national welfare, as when he secretly conspired with the leaders of a totalitarian empire that was seeking toÂ systematically extinguish every last glimmer of freedom from the horizon of humanity’s future.
Such is the legacy of the man whom the leftwing media are now lionizing as a beloved political icon.