There are one or two commentators in Boston who never viewed Ted Kennedy as a lion of anything. Howie Carr watched Senator Kennedy throughout his public career and did not like what he saw.
Kennedy's abandonment of his pro-life stance stands in stark contrast to the efforts of his recently deceased sister Eunice Kennedy Shriver on behalf of the unborn, though she is better known for founding the Special Olympics to benefit those with intellectual disabilities.
While he bears responsibility for the death of Mary Jo Kopechne, consider also the millions of deaths to which he has contributed by switching to support of abortion for political expediency in his failed run for the presidency in 1980. Until then, his postion in the Senate since 1962 had been that abortion "was not in accordance with the value which our civilization places on human life."
The Vatican newspaper's front page rightly criticized Kennedy's anti-life stance while noting his passing. That he will have a Catholic burial hopefully signfies a death bed confession of that grave sin against humanity and Christian morality.
Is it too much to hope he has left a statement to be made public expressing sorrow and repentance for his betrayal of the unborn? What a profound effect such a message might have on mealy-mouthed Catholic hypocrites like Senator John Kerry, who have adopted the formula first enunciated by Mario Cuomo, at Notre Dame, no less: "While I'm personally opposed to abortion, I won't impose my religious beliefs on others."
What Catholic priest would have the backbone to demand or even suggest it? Certainly not one the Kennedys would call in for last rites.
We won't hold our breath waiting.
Ted Kennedy's legacy not as heroic as some might think
By Howie Carr New York Post
August 27, 2009
I never voted for Ted Kennedy, not once, and neither did maybe a quarter to one-third of the Massachusetts electorate, although you'd never know that from the echo chamber of the mainstream media since his death in Hyannisport late Tuesday night.
While offering condolences to the Kennedy family at this sad moment, it is important to note that his life was not as simple, nor heroic, as is now being portrayed. On the cable channels yesterday, his fellow Senate graybeards, of both parties, were lamenting the passing of what was invariably described as Ted Kennedy's "collegial" Senate - where voices were seldom raised, and partisan bickering ended when the gavel came down to end the session.
All of which would have come as a surprise to Robert Bork, the Supreme Court nominee of whom the collegial Ted said in 1986:"Robert Bork's America is a land in which women would be forced into back-alley abortions, blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters . . ."
So much for collegiality. Of course, Kennedy is now endlessly lauded for his support of "women's rights," i.e. abortion. But into the 1970s, before the Roman Catholic Church's influence began to wane, Kennedy was a traditional pro-life New England Democrat.
Here was his take on abortion in 1971:"Wanted or unwanted, I believe that human life, even at its earliest stages, has certain rights which must be recognized - the right to be born, the right to love, the right to grow old."
There's a story, perhaps apocryphal, that in his first Senate campaign in 1962, Kennedy was shaking hands at a factory-gate during a shift change. A haggard worker began berating him about how he'd never worked a day in his life. According to the legend, at that point another salt-of-the-earth blue-collar type leaned in and told Kennedy, "Never worked a day in your life, kid? You ain't missed a thing."
But in fact he had. Yesterday the tributes kept mentioning his commitment to the "working class." He fought for, as President Obama said on Martha's Vineyard of all places, "an America that is more equal and more just."
But more equal and more just for some people than for others. When it came to the white ethnic working class from which his father came, Kennedy just plain didn't get it. Whether it was court-ordered busing in Boston in the 1970s, or the affirmative action policies that stymied the careers of so many of his family's traditional voters, Kennedy never grasped the depth of the blue-collar frustration as he veered left. And what infuriated them even more was that so many of them had grown up in homes where on one side of the mantel was a faded photo of the martyred JFK, and on the other the pope, with a dried-up palm frond given out at Mass on Palm Sunday between them.
Chappaquiddick, of course, never went away. But sometimes Kennedy could seem oblivious even to that ultimate blemish on his career. In 1974, when President Ford pardoned Richard Nixon for his Watergate crimes, Kennedy issued this thundering statement:"Do we operate under a system of equal justice under law? Or is there one system for the average citizen and another for the high and mighty?"
On issue after issue he was wrong - the nuclear freeze, the Reagan tax cuts, the Immigration Reform Act of 1965, which he assured his Senate colleagues would not lead to a "flood" of immigrants into America's cities. With a Tele-Promp-Ter, he could be articulate, but when he wasn't using his glasses to read a prepared statement, he was often an oratorical mess. In 2005, at the National Press Club, he referred to the current president as "Osama bin La-uh, Osama Obama, uh Obama."
And yet he was always protected by most of the media, who shared his views on just about everything. In 1962, at the behest of President Kennedy, the Boston Globe played the story of his expulsion from Harvard below the fold on the front page. To the very end the Globe did its best to shield him - last week the struggling Times-owned broadsheet broke the story of his deathbed attempt to change the Massachusetts law on Senate succession, without mentioning that he himself had lobbied in 2004 to enact the law he was now denouncing as undemocratic. Only then, he was for stripping the governor of his right to fill a Senate vacancy, because, you see, that governor was a Republican.
The Globe reported that Kennedy was extremely concerned that the people of Massachusetts would have no representation in the Senate for five months until the special election. The fact that he had already missed 97 percent of the Senate roll-call votes in 2009 was not noted until the next day - in a different newspaper.
The hagiography will continue throughout the weekend. We all agree that Ted Kennedy should rest in peace. But let's not forget that there was more, much more, to his "legacy" than is being reported on MSNBC.
Though not mentioned by Carr, Kennedy's vicious mendacity in attacking Judge Bork during his confirmation hearing to be a Supreme Court Justice should not be forgotten. It has poisoned the judicial confirmation process ever since.