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Ted Kennedy's Ugly Legacy

Posted on August 27 2009 9:00 am
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Kennedy Football


On yesterday’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: “Everybody here is a student of history and we’ve grown up with a lot of romance about the U.S. Senate.… I don’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 don’t see that quarterback.”

It was a fascinating and, in many ways, an apt metaphor – to suggest that Kennedy was the quarterback, the man who determinedly coordinated and led his Senate teammates during legislative “crunch time.” 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 from the Third World, which became the point of origin for some 85 percent of all the legal immigrants who entered the U.S. between 1971 and 1990. The devastating effects of that development – effects which Kennedy promised would never come to pass – were monstrous in terms of what they contributed 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 driver’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 to 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. The senator quickly left the scene of the accident and, instead of promptly reporting what had occurred, spent the next ten hours concocting an alibi while his car lay unnoticed beneath the water.

Sen. Ted Kennedy's car is pulled from the water at Edgartown, Mass., July 19, 1969.

Sen. Ted Kennedy's car is pulled from the water at Edgartown, Mass., July 19, 1969.

Fourteen years later, during a particularly tense period of the Cold War, Kennedy employed the old “Quarterback Sneak” play when he made secret overtures to the Soviet intelligence agency, the KGB, in an unspeakably devious attempt to undermine Ronald Reagan’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 Kennedy’s desire to stop Reagan’s allegedly aggressive defense policies and to derail his 1984 re-election bid. The letter also stated that Kennedy had recommended a number of PR moves to help the Soviets counter Reagan’s “propaganda” 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, rallying his fellow Senate Democrats in a bitter fight to prevent the confirmation of President Reagan’s nominee for the Supreme Court, Robert Bork, whose originalist judicial philosophy — the idea that the Constitution is not a “living document” subject to endless reinterpretation — Kennedy utterly rejected. Less than an hour after Bork’s nomination, the “Quarterback” went to the Senate floor to deliver what was perhaps the most disgraceful pack of slanderous lies ever spoken by an American politician :

“Robert Bork’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 of Government, and the doors of the Federal courts would be shut on the fingers of millions of citizens …”

This, then, was Ted Kennedy — a political competitor who specialized, above all else, in using his rhetorical “arm” to sling 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 society for generations to come;
  • engaging in obscenely 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 the ultimate price; and
  • recklessly putting his own political ambitions ahead of the national welfare, as when he secretly conspired with the leaders of a totalitarian empire that was seeking to 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.

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