It’s a sad day in New England, and across the land. An era is ending. For the first time in over half a century, there will be no Kennedys in the federal government. Representative Patrick Kennedy (D-RI) will not be running for re-election.
The reason, of course, is health — the voters of his district are sick of his carpetbagging ass.
For years, Patrick — the son of the late Senator Ted Kennedy — has suffered many, many burdens. The worst of which has to have been being himself.
Patrick — nicknamed “Patches” by Boston talk show host Howie Carr after the treacly maudlin Blues song — has been, as the nephew of John F. Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy, a most potent argument against Darwin’s Theory. The guy (who’s only a few months older than I am) has been an absolute wreck for years, and only the magic of his name has kept him from facing the consequences of his incredibly poor life choices.
He got a good jump on carrying on the Kennedy family legacy — his father’s, not his uncles’ — by becoming a heavy user of alcohol and cocaine while still in high school. This led to various and sundry incidents over the years, culminating with several car crashes and confession of Oxycontin addiction in 2006. One of those crashes occurred on Capitol Hill, when the congressman insisted that he was on his way to vote (even though Congress had shut down for the night six hours earlier) and Capitol Hill police passed on arresting him, instead driving him home to sleep it off. Another was in Rhode Island, when he bashed up a Crown Victoria while pulling into a CVS Pharmacy (I suspect he was not popping in for toenail clippers and a quick snack.)
One can’t be certain intoxicants were a factor in his sea-borne adventures, but it’s a good bet they played a factor in the time he rented a yacht for some partying, then left it abandoned at sea with about $28,000 in damages. Or the time the Coast Guard had to answer a distress call to another yacht to break up a domestic dispute between Patches and his then-girlfriend.
But one can’t blame all of Patches’ travails on the Demon Rum and Dr. Feelgood’s Magical Elixirs. There’s a certain innate assholery that shines through, no matter how hard he’s tried to drown it. Back in 2000, in the heady pre-9/11 days, an airport security officer — obviously ignorant that Patches was a Congressman and A KENNEDY — tried to keep him from carrying an oversized bag on to an airline. Facing such affrontery, Patches did the only thing he could — he shoved the elderly black woman aside and stormed though the security checkpoint. Naturally, he wasn’t charged with any crime (let alone a hate crime — his victim was a black woman in her 60’s, after all, but he is a Democrat), but he (and by “he,” I mean “his family”) had to pay a hefty civil settlement.
Patches’ one shining moment occurred in 2003, when he committed a major gaffe. And here, a “gaffe” is defined as “when a politician says something far truer than he intends.” In that year, Kennedy loudly proclaimed “I have never worked a fucking day in my life.”
Patches’ swan song came as Senator Scott Brown assumed the (badly bowed and rum-soaked) seat of his late father, Ted Kennedy. Patches (who had campaigned for Brown’s opponent, Martha Coakley, referring to her in a speech as “Marsha”) pronounced “Brown’s whole candidacy was shown to be a joke today when he was sworn in early in order to cast his first vote as an objection to Obama’s appointment to the NLRB.”
One would think that if anyone understands what political jokes are, it would be Patches. His whole life has been a political joke — one on the entire nation.
Well, the joke has finally reached its punchline, 16 years in the making. Patches is exiting, stage left.
Don’t let the door hit ya where the good lord split ya, Patches.
I never begrudge a person the right to utterly piss away their life and potential, but I draw the line when it’s done on the public dime, and when the individual chooses to share the misery they cause with the entire nation. And that’s a pretty damned good summary of Patches’ life so far.
Oh, and Patches? You’re 42, and you still haven’t worked a fucking day in your life. Give it a try. It’s not too late to be a trailblazer — you could go on from your political career and demonstrate that a besotted waste of skin could actually end up doing something productive with your life.
I ain’t betting on it, though.