While watching the first night of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., on Tuesday evening, I was astonished that they featured a video tribute to former Massachusetts Senator, the late Edward ‘Ted’ Kennedy.
This is the best the Democrats could come up with?
Of course, the video had its practical purposes – it included attacks that Kennedy made against Mitt Romney during their contentious 1994 Massachusetts senate race (which Kennedy handily won).
And it worked – the crowd in Charlotte roared with approval every time Kennedy made a snarky remark against Romney.
The video then went on to link Kennedy with Barack Obama (showing the two together at the White House and elsewhere), perhaps suggesting that Romney will again be beaten by the Democrat candidate.
In addition, Kennedy endorsed Obama during the 2008 Democratic primaries (over the favorite, Hilary Clinton).
Still, despite the gratitude that Obama wanted to show Kennedy, I was puzzled by this decision to honor the Massachusetts ‘liberal lion.’
For those of you too young to remember, Ted Kennedy was one of the most scurrilous figures ever to hold high office in recent memory in this country.
The youngest son of the Kennedy dynasty founded by the formidable Joseph P. Kennedy, Teddy was (like his older brothers John and Robert) a serial womanizer; and he was also an alcoholic, a cokehead, a liar, a mediocre student who cheated his way through Harvard; and was likely responsible for the tragic drowning death of a young woman who was foolish enough to get into his car (if you doubt this, Google the magical words “Mary Jo Kopechne” and “Chappaquiddick”). Instead of going to jail (like the rest of us would have), he became the "permanent" US senator for Massachusetts.
This is the man the Democrats want to promote as a symbol for the party? (Even the Republicans were smart enough to downplay the reign of George W. Bush during their convention in Tampa, Fla.).
Then I realized that only a “Kennedy” (any one of that famous clan) could be touted as a historic figure for the Democrats. Yes, Bill Clinton (who reportedly does not think much of Obama) will deliver a key address later this week in Charlotte; his wife Hilary is ten thousand miles away in China; and Jimmy Carter got a small tribute on Tuesday night – but when it comes to sheer star power and name recognition, nothing beats a Kennedy.
More than fifty years after John F. Kennedy’s assassination and more than four decades after Robert’s murder, the “Kennedy” name is the gold standard for liberal Democrats.
Of course, following the publication of literally hundreds of books and thousands of magazine articles, the public knows more about the Kennedys and their ugly scandals and hypocrisies than it ever wanted to.
Ted Kennedy – the symbol, not the flawed man – embodied all the sacred pillars of hard-core democratic philosophy, with respect to such topics as health care, abortion, taxes, gay rights, etc.
However, in my judgment, it still strikes me as very odd and sad that an amoral, snobbish, completely unprincipled man like Ted Kennedy – born filthy rich and entitled and who never worked a day in his life – is such a ‘hero’ and ‘idol’ to the working class, the dispossessed, the poor and the neglected.
As the saying goes, with friends like this…