Ted Kennedy and Mary Jo Kopechne


The most fitting eulogy I’ve read for Senator Kennedy . . .

A Senator from Massachusetts has left office in the only manner possible for an incumbent Democrat, i.e., in a coffin. The New York Times leads off their story on Ted Kennedy’s death with “his sometimes-stormy personal life.” When I think of Ted Kennedy, though, my first thought is always sadness at the death of Mary Jo Kopechne, a promising young woman killed by Kennedy, who waited more than eight hours before seeking help for her rescue. One expects politicians to impoverish constituents with reckless spending; one does not expect them to kill constituents. . . .

[Some friends asked today how I would have summarized Ted Kennedy’s biography, if not the way the New York Times did. I observed that he had spent his entire life either as the child of a wealthy family or as a government employee. Never having held a job in the private sector and never having been exposed to the risk of losing a job or a paycheck (either as a child or an adult), he created many new laws and regulations on private businesses (most of the laws that apply to private employers do not apply to Senators themselves in their relations with staff). In his personal life, rather than donating to charity (source) or working directly with the unfortunate, he enjoyed drinking and partying. He drove a car off a bridge, trapping a young woman inside, managed to save his own skin, left her to die, and did not attempt to summon help that could have saved her.]

Update: I just noticed that Barack Obama gave a televised speech from Martha’s Vineyard in praise of Ted Kennedy. Though he was speaking just a few miles from where Mary Jo Kopechne died, President Obama did not mention her. Barack Obama did note that there was nobody in the Senate who had earned more “respect” and that he was one of “the most accomplished Americans ever to serve our democracy.” I guess if all of our government workers were similarly accomplished we would no longer have to worry about overpopulation.

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