Aug 272009

Sen. Edward “Ted” Kennedy died Wednesday, finally closing a tragic chapter in a cursed family’s life.

While many either don’t know or care about the passing of the “Lion of the Senate,” I, for one, only feel sorrow for those who truly depended on Teddy’s survival.

It’s as if politicians and both sides of cable news are permitted to simply ignore facts and simply remember events as they best suit the agenda. I thought we were holding them responsible this time.

Revisionists apply this to his brother’s legacy as well. JFK’s handling of the Cuban Missile Crisis was only necessary because of his utter bungling in dealing with Khrushchev in the first place. If you cause a crisis, you should not get full credit for handling it.

One of Massachusetts Senators since taking John’s vacated seat after the 1962 presidential election, Ted demonstrated much of the Kennedy character.

Some of you may be unaware: Ted somehow managed to maintain his career despite an insatiable thirst for alcohol and women. Now, who on a college campus would disagree with a life supported by those two tenets?

I don’t personally feel it’s anyone’s business, outside of Mrs. Kennedy anyway, how much Sen. Kennedy was drinking or with whom he was sleeping, but when those two activities combined one fateful evening in 1969, a young woman lost her life.

If news broke tomorrow about a sitting U.S. Senator crashing his vehicle into a body of water with a female passenger to whom he was not married and who died as a result, the circumstances would not matter a great deal; he would be crucified by the media.

Kennedy did just such a thing one night in 1969. After the crash, Kennedy went to his hotel room for the night. The next morning he shared conversations with a fellow recreational sailor he ran into as he left the hotel, as well as the innkeeper before finally making the report. Not only did he attempt to cover up the incident, he unbelievably avoided any appropriate prosecution for his crime. He did suffer a suspended license for two months.

The investigation into the accident found the young woman survived for some time after the accident by breathing a pocket of air trapped in the car before drowning.

Why is any of this relevant? The only true admiration any politician holds for Kennedy is for his inherent ability to win re-election every half dozen years despite his spectacular personal errors. I know it is redundant to call a politician a hypocrite, but he was an artist.

In 2006, Kennedy made news on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Supposedly a major advocate of green energy, Sen. Kennedy attempted to block a proposed wind farm when he learned the turbines were to be installed eight miles away, ruining the view of the ocean horizon from his Cape Cod home. The Daily Show sent John Oliver to the Cape to capture the travesty on film. The turbines were mere white dots on the horizon.

Democrats didn’t even wait for Kennedy’s body to hit room temperature Wednesday before calling for health reform in his name. It failed before with him as a catalyst. Why not honor him with another failure?

Kennedy was not great. Despite what you may hear or read about him, remember that his most significant accomplishment was outliving John, Robert and both of their eldest sons.

The time for truth has come. A long-serving Senator from a family of privilege dying of brain cancer does not make him a hero; it makes him dead.

It is the burden of the middle class to hear from the upper class such as the Kennedys, how little we are, and how much more we should do for the lower class.

I for one would rather see the lower class do it themselves and watch the Kennedys sail away.

Seth J. Stern is a senior journalism and sociology major and a political science minor. His column appears Fridays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to

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