Thursday, August 27, 2009

TED KENNEDY R.I.P.

I've been down the Jersey shore the past few days and didn't get the news about Ted Kennedy's passing until I was on the road early Wednesday morning.

The first thing I noticed was that even the rightwingers who were either sincerely or not so sincerely lamenting the passing of a "great Senator" and/or "great American" couldn't help but bring up the accident that took the life of Ted Kennedy's car mate that fateful night many decades ago.

Some of them pointed out that no matter how successful Ted Kennedy was in overcoming the loss of two brothers to assassins, and one to war, no matter how much legislation he got passed that led to more of this country's poor people getting a fairer deal in all areas of their lives, and more fairness in general in our society, no matter that to many critics and historians he was now seen as one of the most successful Senators in our country's history, no matter what other travails he overcame, this accident in which he acted badly by not overcoming whatever obstacles presented themselves—whether drunkeness, fear, physical impossibility, mental confusion under stress, etc.—that was a crime so dastardly it should overshadow all else.

I found this not only disappointing, but also as is so often the case, another instance of rightwing hypocrisy and double standards. The fundamentalism that underlies so much of rightwing ideology (though the ultimate ideology is to win power and maintain it at all cost and no matter what the original ideology might have been it can be sacrificed to those two goals) is based on born again Christianity. And the right is always bending over backwards to forgive sinners on their team, and bending over forward to get in our faces about sinners on ours.

When it was revealed that Laura Bush was in a car accident in which someone was killed, the way I heard it her ex-boyfriend who'd been bothering her, there was no outcry on the left and never has been. No liberal I know has ever accused her of maliciously setting out to kill someone or of having such terrible judgement it led to the tragedy etc. It was an accident and as far as I know no elected Democrat or well known "liberal" has ever questioned that fact or waved it under the right's noses.

Her husband was getting arrested for drunk driving and drunken behavior and drug abuse and disorderly conduct and so on from his adolescence up into his forties, which when asked by a reporter when he first ran for president he dismissed as "youthful indiscretions" that should be forgotten since he had since stopped drinking and drugging. As far as I know the question was never raised again, even though he was our first president to have that kind of criminal record on taking office. And as far as I know no Democratic politician has ever made an issue of it, though I wish some of them had, just to point out the hypocrisy in his holier than thou pronouncements as president.

Now, from the reports of the last president's arrests as a young and not-so-young man, it's clear that except for the grace of God or fate or chance or luck or whatever, no one was killed by his drunken behavior, including drunk driving that was reckless and endangered the public. But if anything like that had happened, you think the right would be on his case the way they were and even now continue to be on Teddy Kennedy's?

There are cases where the left, Democrats and public liberals, have ragged for a bit on a rightwinger's transgressions that led or could have led to tragedy. Like Rush's illegal drug use and his exploitation of his employees to keep his habit going, risking jail for them if not for himself because of his powerful connections. (You think a poor black man who did what Rush did, i.e. use illegal drugs and then use an employee to try and obtain them for him through illegal means, would have gotten off with no jail time? Sure.)

And there have been many fundamentalist ministers and Republican politicians who have jeopardized not just their own lives but those of their families through their behavior, and at least publicly, they are always forgiven and if they show any signs of recovery are lauded as sinners who have repented and moved on to greater glory hallelujah. Because the whole Christian story is one of redemption, and they love to tell stories of their own personal redemption, I was blind but now I see. But if it's a liberal or Democrat who has fallen, their perspective on redemption seems to switch immediately to a kick them while their down belief.

Like ted Kennedy, I was the youngest of a large Irish-American family in an even larger Irish-American clan. Unlike them we were never wealthy. But we had some similar family connections and loyalties, and a general devotion to service and fighting for more fairness for those with less. And as the youngest, I acted out in many ways as a young man, and was guilty of lack of judgement that sometimes led to personal tragedy and sometimes that had an impact on others. Nothing so glaringly heartbreaking as the famous accident when the car went off the bridge for Teddy and his companion, but tragic enough.

I am grateful I got the chance to stay alive long enough to try and make amends for those failures of character, as I am glad Teddy Kennedy did too. He ended up helping a lot of people who might otherwise have suffered early deaths or personal tragedies of their own without the work he did tirelessly. You ever been around a Congressman or Senator to witness the hours and effort they put into the job? It's a lot more time and energy consuming than most jobs most people I've known have. And even if it isn't physically heavy lifting, as I know from having worked a wide variety of jobs from many manual labor kinds of hourly wage stuff to heavy duty intellectual efforts and both can be as tiring as basic training in the service.

Teddy never had the amazingly quick wit and intellect of his brother John, nor maybe the kind of physical courage his brother Joe had, nor the power to touch and inspire people that Bobby acquired late in his life. But what he did have, he used almost consistently, with a few tragic exceptions, for the greater good, not his own.

[For a lowkey but accurate tribute check out Silliman's blog here (can't get the specific post so scroll down or look it up)]

14 comments:

JIm said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
harryn said...

man, if i were mourning the indiscretions of rightwingers i'd spend an eternity in black - and their foibles continue to gather - part of the human condition i guess - but when redemption is continuously used as an excuse or a ' get out of jail free' card - i'm disgusted ...

kennedy's passing marks the end of an era - that's what probably saddens me the most - that, and another liberal voice and vote gone at a time when the downtrodden of this country need as much support as possible from our lawmakers and elected officials [elected by a majority as i must continue to remind some] ...

i'm not interested in bashing or sanctifying kennedy's legacy - its time for historians to do their job - and i'm also not interested in hearing the republicans - like goofy mccain explain what teddy would have done with this healthcare issue had he lived - have they no shame ...

but a few brief thoughts: i think part of what made the kennedy political efforts great was that their policies often provided hope for the under privileged and a sense of shared responsibility - like family, teamwork, and national pride of accomplishing noble causes - which looks different than greed, entitlement, and sanctimonious self righteousness ...
that's why obama got the endorsement/votes and why he's worked tirelessly to keep his promise of 'hope' to his constituency ...
after that historic election, i doubt he suspected being blind-sided by such an aggressive display of bigotry and contempt - but he forgot that those hillbillies and rednecks have grudges spanning generations - cannon fodder the rightwingers knew they could rely on ...

once again, lally spouts another gem in his assessment:
"rightwing hypocrisy and double standards. The fundamentalism that underlies so much of rightwing ideology (though the ultimate ideology is to win power and maintain it at all cost and no matter what the original ideology might have been it can be sacrificed to those two goals) is based on born again Christianity. And the right is always bending over backwards to forgive sinners on their team, and bending over forward to get in our faces about sinners on ours."

JIm said...

Chickenshit. Facts can be annoying.

Lally said...

They certainly annoy you Jim. There's enough hatred and lies and stupidity going around now, I think you supply more than enough for this blog. And it wasn't your "facts" son, it was your use of an innocent victim of an accident and her family to promote your version of the hatred and lies and stupidity.

t.p. said...

Dear M:

Nice piece on EMK, who will be sorely missed in our political lives. I ran into him many times here in DC---he visited The Dubliner (as did Moynihan, Dodd, et al.) occasionally during Celtic Thunder's decade as the house band there; I'd see him at the Irish embassy and other Irish events; I even played for his 45th birthday party. That someone so wealthy and privileged would devote his life to those less well off is an inspiration. The toxic exhaust fumes emitted by O'Reilly, Hannity and their ilk are a discredit to Irish America; but Ted Kennedy was someone we could be truly proud of.

As for the deep wellspring of rightwad criminality, I was surprised to read recently that Vincent Bugliosi was unable to get much mainstream exposure for his book outlining the case against Bush as a murderer (see http://www.huffingtonpost.com/vincent-bugliosi/the-prosecution-of-george_b_102427.html). As for Limbaugh, I don't think he was even charged, was he? Why he wasn't prosecuted escapes me. Same for Rove. Bush, Cheney, Rove, Rice, Rumsfeld, plus Scooter and various other underlings, all belong in a supermax.

TP

JIm said...

Definition of “traitor from Merriam’s dictionary
1 : one who betrays another's trust or is false to an obligation or duty 2 : one who commits treason
1 : the betrayal of a trust : TREACHERY
2 : the offense of attempting by overt acts to overthrow the government of the state to which the offender owes allegiance or to kill or personally injure the sovereign or the sovereign's family

In May of 1983, Ted Kennedy secretly contacted the USSR and conspired with them to thwart President Reagan’s policy toward the Communist block. Was this the an act of patriot or a traitor? The Senator was concerned that Reagan was so popular because of his economic policies which had turned the US economy around, that Reagan would not modify his program of deploying medium rang nuclear weapons to Europe.
http://sweetness-light.com/archive/kgb-letter-details-ted-kennedys-offer-to-help-ussr
Excerpts of KGB letter follow below.

“Kennedy believes that, given the current state of affairs, and in the interest of peace, it would be prudent and timely to undertake the following steps to counter the militaristic politics of Reagan and his campaign to psychologically burden the American people. In this regard, he offers the following proposals to the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union Y.V. Andropov:”
“1. Kennedy asks Y.V. Andropov to consider inviting the senator to Moscow for a personal meeting in July of this year. The main purpose of the meeting, according to the senator, would be to arm Soviet officials with explanations regarding problems of nuclear disarmament so they may be better prepared and more convincing during appearances in the USA. He would also like to inform you that he has planned a trip through Western Europe, where he anticipates meeting England’s Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and French President Mitterand in which he will exchange similar ideas regarding the same issues.
Kennedy believes that in order to influence Americans it would be important to organize in August-September of this year, televised interviews with Y.V. Andropov in the USA. A direct appeal by the General Secretary to the American people will, without a doubt, attact a great deal of attention and interest in the country. The senator is convinced this would receive the maximum resonance in so far as television is the most effective method of mass media and information.”

harryn said...

what an idiot ...

JIm said...

Like father like son!
Joseph Kennedy’s statement in 1940 ended his career. It would have been better for America if Ted Kennedy’s letter to the USSR was made public in 1983.

Joseph Kennedy argued strongly against giving aid to Britain. "Democracy is finished in England. It may be here.”, stated Ambassador Kennedy, Boston Sunday Globe of November 10, 1940. In a one simple statement, Joe Kennedy ruined any future chances of becoming US president, metaphorically committing political suicide. While Blitzkrieg bombs fell daily

Appendix
TEXT OF KGB LETTER ON SENATOR TED KENNEDY http://my.opera.com/uhte/blog/2006/10/24/ted-kennedy-the-v-chebrikov-letter

JIm said...
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Lally said...

Okay, I know some readers of this blog find Jim amusing and/or useful as a mouthpiece for what the right wingnuts are up to in their latest big lie attempts to sway public opinion against whoever is keeping them from power for the moment or confronting them with more human and humane alternatives to their usual whatever's-good-for-corporations-and-the-extremely-wealthy is good for all of us approach to governing. Others have been begging me for a long time to just delete his comments because they are often so hateful as well as distorted. (He of course thinks that any written or internet source that agrees with his rightwing opinions—and the double standards that are always in gear when rightwingers criticize "liberals" for behavior common to all humans including many of their most vitriolic spokespeople—is inarguable "truth" and any actual facts whether scientific, historic, statistical, etc. that prove the right wrong are to be ignored or shouted over or lied over etc.) Others have just suggested I ignore him—that we all do—and not respond which only eggs him on. But his total disregard for any human feelings on the part of anyone other than a fellow rightwing ideologue has become too viciously hateful let alone meanspirited, especially in the face of a fellow human's demise. I remember some left wingnuts who displayed the same coldly ideological characteristics back in the late '60s and early '70s that led me to rethink the radical ideology I thought most productive for change that would bring about a greater good for a greater number of people. I was so turned off when they could show no human compassion for someone who didn't think like them that I gave up any affiliation I had with them and their ideology and continued to pursue what I thought was truest to my sense of compassion and empathy and desire for a world that worked for everyone, as much as possible, rather than just the powerful few. At any rate, I don't mind if Jim calls me names, nothing new there. But he can start his own blog, they're free on Google, and post whatever I deleted and will continue to delete when I think he's crossed the line from rightwing ideologue spouting the usual rightwing nonsense and lies hopefully everyone else who reads this blog can see through, to promoting or trying to provoke actual violence against those who disagree with him. That's what the rightwing calls "terrorrism" and I'm not into allowing domestic "terrorists" to promote their agendas on my blog.

harryn said...

man, i agree - the man [and his ilk] have increasingly become a menace and threat to the ideals of democracy and indeed behaving with terrorist attitudes - not to mention his lack of humanity ...
hasn't taken jim long to move from caustic to toxic - but given his diet of diatribe, its expected ...

JIm said...

Here is an example of Liberal moderation and reason.

"Robert Bork's America is a land in which women would be forced into back-alley abortions, blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters, rogue police could break down citizens' doors in midnight raids, schoolchildren could not be taught about evolution, writers and artists would be censored at the whim of the government ..." thus unleashing the vast partisanship that we are still embroiled in.

harryn said...

sounds like the bush administration - glad its over - now its just a matter of waiting for the sore losers and die-hards to realize it ...

JIm said...

Here is the source of the” right wingnut diatribe” on Ted Kennedy. Wikipedia is downright subversive. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ted_Kennedy#Early_life.2C_military_service.2C_education

It was interesting to note Ted’s attempt to curry favor with Pope Benedict, as his grave side letter and the Pope’s response through an intermediary indicated. It seems that Ted was a believer and that he was concerned about his meeting with St. Peter to discuss his switch from Pro Life to his high profile advocacy of abortion. I wonder if the Pope’s permission was given to make the response through an intermediary public. The “Lord Hear Our Prayer” graveside prayer was a litany of the Democrats wish list. Oh well, he was a rabid left wing politician to the end. The Kennedy’s had at least one saint. Eunice Schriver’s work for the Special Olympics was extraordinary. She and her husband seemed like shinning examples of what is admirable about America.