The latest news reports indicate that Senator Edward Kennedy will receive the high honor of being laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery alongside the earthly remains of authentic American heroes who gave their lives in service to their country.
No one in authority asked me if this an appropriate exclamation point to the seventy-seven year statement that is Kennedy’s earthly life, but just in case anyone was wondering; I would say that it may be more fitting to bury the former Massachusetts senator at sea.
More specifically; I’m thinking of a private, if not secretive, late night send-off during which the senator could be unceremoniously interred beneath the chilly waters of Poucha Pond near the coast of Chappaquiddick while strapped into the passenger seat of a 1967 Oldsmobile Delmont 88.
This may sound unnecessarily harsh, I know, especially in juxtaposition to the tenor of the typical mainstream media’s quasi-canonization of Kennedy under the guise of an obituary.
I am, of course, not being entirely serious. A ’67 Olds, after all, is a collectors’ item these days.
I do, however, wish to illustrate the stark difference between the posthumous portrait being painted of Edward Kennedy in much of the media and the life the man actually lived. Don’t let the revisionist eulogizers fool you; Teddy Kennedy is no icon of honorable statesmanship, much less is he the image of devout Catholicism.
Edward Moore Kennedy gained entrance into the United States Senate by way of the back door; taking up the post vacated by his brother, John, who had been elected to the presidency. The deed itself, however, was accomplished only after a family friend conspired to keep the seat warm until Teddy, then 28, reached the constitutionally required minimum age of 30 at which point the faux heir-by-proxy stepped down as agreed so that nepotism could have its day.
With the benefit of the family franchise and a gift-wrapped incumbent’s advantage, Teddy became a veritable fixture in the Senate chamber over a career that spanned five decades. Not bad, I suppose, for a man who was expelled from Harvard in 1951 for cheating on an exam.
If nothing else, Ted was resilient.
After a sixteen month stint in the Army, Kennedy (or someone close to him) somehow managed to convince Harvard that he deserved re-admission. This time, Ted would graduate en route to a law degree from University of Virginia. Like I said, the man was resilient.
This, however, is nothing as compared to the uncanny ability to avoid accountability that he would demonstrate roughly a decade and a half later.
In the waning hours of July 18, 1969, Ted requested the car keys from his personal driver and left a party on the Martha’s Vineyard island of Chappaquiddick with a young female companion, Mary Jo Kopechne, who was eight days shy of her twenty-ninth birthday.
Before reaching his destination, Kennedy lost control of his automobile and drove off of a bridge. The car plunged into Poucha Pond and overturned before coming to rest under the water. Ted, resilient man that he was, managed to extricate himself from the wreckage and swim to safety.
The honorable senator from Massachusetts then fled the accident scene leaving behind the daughter of Joseph and Gwen Kopechne; trapped inside the submersed wreckage of the Oldsmobile Delmont 88 that would become her death chamber.
Another ten hours would pass before Ted would speak of the accident to authorities and only then after the wreckage was discovered.
Even in today’s world in which sleazy political figures from Massachusetts routinely wear their indiscretions like badges of honor, this is breathtaking.
A character flaw such that the perennially entitled Edward Kennedy demonstrated at Chappaquiddick would deal a fatal blow to the aspirations of any would-be public servant, but not this man. The resilient Ted Kennedy would emerge from the waters of Poucha Pond to continue his tenure in the United States Senate for more years than Mary Jo Kopechne had even lived; thirty.
If in death Edward Kennedy is forced to confront the souls of those, like Mary Jo Kopechne, whose earthly life he personally had a hand in cutting short; it’s going to be a crowded affair indeed.
Even after he demonstrated a chilling disregard for the life of a young woman in the Chappaquiddick incident, Kennedy still maintained that “the legalization of abortion on demand is not in accordance with the value which our civilization places on human life.”
In spite of these sentiments expressed in 1971, Kennedy would ultimately do an about face thereby endearing himself to the powerful abortion lobby and solidifying his place in the United States Senate as a member of the Democrat party. At his death he was widely considered one of the abortion industry’s staunchest Congressional advocates.
That necessarily meant that he also stood on the wrong side of a self-created chasm separating himself from the faith he professed to hold.
Even so, USA Today like many other media outlets has anointed Kennedy “a devout Catholic,” one who “clung to his religion’s belief in the potential for human redemption.”
While it seems like common courtesy to speak kindly of the dead, in this case, it’s even kinder to be plainly honest.
Based upon the witness of the life he lived in the public eye, Edward Kennedy wasn’t particularly honorable. He wasn’t exactly the embodiment of the kind of statesmanship that would make our Founding Fathers proud. And most importantly of all, he wasn’t even close to being the face of devout Catholicism.
Though the particulars are always unique, Ted Kennedy was far more like the rest of us than we’d probably like to admit; a sinner who in death stands in need of our prayers of petition now more than ever.
By canonizing Ted Kennedy with inflated claims of a life well lived, the media and others are not only besmirching the good name of the Church, they are potentially robbing him of the merciful deeds he most certainly needs from those who really are devout Catholics.
Let us hope and pray that Ted did yet one more about face and availed himself of Divine Mercy before it was too late.
Eternal rest grant unto him, O’ Lord, and may perpetual light shine upon him.