By my reckoning, today marks the 578th day of Ted Kennedy’s sobriety, and while it isn’t a nice, round number, there is some news that merits giving “the lion of the Senate” a fresh kicking. Normally, I don’t care for kicking dead horses, but when the “horse” in question is one who lived as heinous a life and caused as much harm as Teddy, then I’ll break out the good boots.
Thanks to a Freedom of Information Act request by Judicial Watch, we now have access to some FBI files from 1961 regarding the late Senior Senator from Massachusetts, and my ain’t they juicy.
Teddy went on a tour of Latin America, and some of the highlights of his trip include renting out an entire brothel in Chile, inviting his American embassy-assigned chauffeur to accompany him on the bacchanalia, and attempting to meet with Communists, Soviet agents, and other anti-American figures (including one American expatriate who had renounced his citizenship).
Others have had their share of fun with this news, but there are a couple of aspects here that haven’t drawn too much attention that I believe are well worth noting.
The first is, this happened in 1961. A lot of people gave Teddy a lot of rope because of the tragedies his family had suffered. However, in 1961, they were riding high. True, he’d already lost one brother and one sister to aircraft accidents, but that was over a decade in the past. In 1961, the Kennedy family was pretty much at its peak of popularity and accomplishments. Teddy’s two older brothers were the President of the United States and Attorney General respectively, his father could not have been prouder and happier, and Teddy himself was holding down a job in the Suffolk County (Massachusetts) District Attorney’s office until he turned 30 and take Jack’s old Senate seat from the family coatholder and seat-warmer, Benjamin Smith (Jack’s college roommate). He was married, a baby daughter at home and a son on the way, scion of the most powerful political family in the nation, rich as hell, and had his whole future mapped out for him.
In brief, he had very few “sorrows” to need to drown.
The other, even more important, point is that in retrospect, it’s remarkable just how much his father’s son he was. I’d always thought of Teddy as the “runt” of the litter (despite his copious bulk). Old Joe Kennedy was a small man, physically, but an incredibly powerful personality and a legendarily dominant force. Teddy, though, was at his core a “small” man, dominated by his weaknesses and fears and failures, unable to resist the pressures to fulfill his assigned role in the family dynasty.
But in several ways, Teddy managed to follow in his father’s footsteps.
When it came to naming his sons, Old Joe demonstrated his ambitions. His firstborn was his namesake and designated heir: Joseph Patrick Kennedy, Jr. Next came his father-in-law’s namesake, John Fitzgerald Kennedy. Son #3 was named Robert, and — probably at his mother’s insistence — given the solidly Catholic “Francis” as a middle name.
Then came along Teddy. By that time, Old Joe had already sired three other sons and five daughters. So when it came to naming him, Joe figured he’d honor his chauffeur, procurer, and buddy Edward Moore.
So, when Teddy is abroad with an overly-fat wallet and the entire US government seemingly ready to cater to the every whim of the brother of the President and the Attorney General, it’s little surprise that he’d want to hire out an entire brothel. And when he goes to partake of his purchase, why shouldn’t he invite along his own “Eddie Moore,” his embassy-assigned chauffeur? It’s what Dad would have done, and what Dad actually did.
Another aspect of Old Joe people don’t like to talk about much is his initial admiration and respect for the Nazis. While he was FDR’s Ambassador to the Court Of St. James, he sent back many dispatches talking about how Hitler and Nazism was the wave of the future, how we shouldn’t grow too attached to England, and we should certainly not do anything that would encourage that war-mongering lunatic Churchill.
With that in mind, Ted Kennedy’s outreach to Communists and anti-Americans in 1961 and his efforts to collaborate with the Soviet Union to advance his political career first against President Carter, then a few years later President Reagan, ties in quite nicely with his father’s own activism.
When Teddy Kennedy finally did pass on, a bit over a year and a half ago, I figured he’d finally come to the end of literally decades of embarrassing himself, his family, and his nation. I should have known he’d find some way of continuing the disgrace from beyond the grave.