It’s nearly a week since Edward Moore Kennedy was laid to rest in hallowed ground, beside his beloved, murdered brothers, and it behooves us to remember him as the man he was.
Ted Kennedy (named by his father after Eddie Moore, old Joe’s chauffeur and procurer) was the last son of a powerful, driven man. Never intended as more than a helper to his older brothers, he found himself the last survivor after all three met violent deaths while in service to their nation.
And it was a terrible burden for a weak man.
He found himself sole heir to both the political and familial legacy of that domineering father and those three brothers (and their own families). In addition to being a patriarch, he also had to be “the Kennedy” to the nation. And he simply wasn’t strong enough for both roles.
As he is commemorated as “the lion of the Senate” and the epitome of all things that the Democratic Party stands for, it must be remembered what he did:
He was a strong proponent of alternate energy… unless it encroached upon his view off Cape Cod.
He was a strong proponent of higher taxes… who cheated on his property taxes and had his mother’s estate probated in a state with lower taxes.
He was a champion of the poor and downtrodden… who left a young woman to drown in hopes of saving his political career.
He was an ardent feminist… whose womanizing abuses of women are the stuff of legend.
He was a devoted family man… who watched as so many of the children of his family followed in his sordid footsteps and made so many of the mistakes that he did into addictions and other misconducts.
He was a staunch Catholic… who stood proudly for so many things the Church condemned, such as divorce and abortion.
In brief, he committed the greatest sin in the eyes of liberals. He was a hypocrite. But his efforts on the behalf of liberal causes let so many indulge him.
So many people hated Ted Kennedy. And while many of his deeds were truly despicable, a far more appropriate response would be pity.
Ted never asked for the burdens that were thrust upon him. He was pushed into the Senate to give his brother a loyal ally there. He was never really interested in the presidency, especially after seeing how that worked out for his brothers Jack and Bobby, but let himself be pushed into that, too. And he never wanted to be the patriarch of his family, responsible for the families of his brothers.
In many ways, perhaps it would have been better for Ted to leave public life after Chappaquiddick. No one would have blamed him if he decided that his obligations to his family — his horribly suffering family — were greater than the role of Senator and spent a decade or so just being “Uncle Ted” and looking out for his own children, and the children of his murdered brothers. After that, with a bit of maturity tucked under his belt, he might have staged a comeback as a wiser, more self-aware man.
And, most likely, with considerably less booze and womanizing under that belt.
We’ll never know.
But Ted is gone on to his final judgment now.
Here’s hoping he now has the peace he never had in life.