Wednesday, August 26, 2009


As a lefty in America, I guess I have to say something about the passing of Edward M. Kennedy at the age of 77, but really, does anyone want to wander down the sainted paths of the Kennedy Myth again?

We all know the legend of JFK, tragically struck down in his prime, and Bobby, killed by an assassin's bullet before he even had a chance to bloom. And so poor Teddy, the Kennedy who lived, whose memory could not be preserved in amber and revered as a symbol of something that might have been, had to deal with the consequences of living in the real world.

Where, not surprisingly, people are less forgiving. JFK's presidency was largely undistinguished, and sometimes regressive, and the True Believers who speak in hushed tones when they conjure visions of Bobby's imaginary presidency conveniently ignore his erratic youth and shadowy associations. (How a guy who went Commie hunting with Roy Cohn could ever become a liberal icon is beyond me.) But they died young, and nobody had to watch them compromise their supposed ideals, or come to terms with what awful people they were.

Because that, sadly, is Edward Kennedy's true legacy: All the progressive legislation in the world couldn't erase the fact that he was a horrible human being, who took privilege as his birthright and never felt the need to play by the rules enforced on lesser mortals. Mary Jo Kopechne's watery grave is but one of many reminders that Kennedy may have dearly wanted to fight the good fight, but he ran like a coward when the fight involved him personally.

So yeah, it's sad in a political sense that Kennedy's vote will no longer be cast in an increasingly conservative senate, but the death of this American aristocracy does not deserve the inevitable mourning it will receive.