Exclusive: Kennedy Worship Syndrome
by TOM MCLAUGHLIN
September 3, 2009
I’m not mourning Ted Kennedy any more than I did Michael Jackson, even though the rest of the Western world went into orgies of keening. Born a Boston-Irish-Catholic-Democrat, I was raised with KWS (Kennedy Worship Syndrome) but, unlike most, I got over it many years ago.
Ted’s brother John was elected president when I was in the fourth grade at St. William’s School in Tewksbury, Massachusetts – about 20 miles outside of Boston. My teacher, Sister Charles Paul, talked endlessly about Sen. Kennedy – then President Kennedy – all year. Three years hence I was upstairs in seventh grade with Sister Maureen Catherine when JFK was shot by a communist organizer in Dallas. We watched the classroom TV as Walter Cronkite told us he was dead. The girls cried. I was in shock.
My father had worked with then-Sen. John Kennedy in the 1950s when WWII vets formed a union that later became NAGE – National Association of Government Employees – now a subsidiary of the notorious SIEU (Service Employees International Union) providing thugs to disrupt congressional town meetings.
Ted Kennedy ran for the U.S. Senate in 1962 when I was in fifth grade. His campaign motorcade went by St. William’s School while we were out at recess and pulled over. He got out to press the flesh and I threw a football to him, which he caught and tossed back. I threw it again, but he had looked away to shake hands and the ball hit him in the head, messing up his hair.
In summer of 1967, I attended a very spirited party on Martha’s Vineyard with some of Robert Kennedy’s children. The following June, I was getting ready for school when my mother told me Robert Kennedy had died in Los Angeles after being shot by a Palestinian activist while running for president.
I’ve since read every major biography of the Kennedy family. Most are by authors suffering from KWS like Doris Kearns Goodwin and Arthur Schlesinger. The three that influenced me most, however, were The Kennedy Imprisonment by Garry Wills; Kennedys: An American Drama by Collier and Horowitz; and The Dark Side of Camelot by Seymour Hersch. These authors examined the family without glossing over the carbuncles, such as: Joseph P. Kennedy’s involvement with organized crime during Prohibition, his pro-Nazi sentiments as Ambassador to the Court of St. James, his obsessive philandering, his svengali-like control of his children, driving his sons to seek the presidency, fixing 1960 election results in Illinois, West Virginia and Louisiana, and so forth. Then there were JFK’s too-numerous-to-mention dalliances as congressman, senator and president. Hersch’s book was the most damning, depicting John and Robert as arrogant, brash, and playing fast and loose with civilization itself in their handling of the Cuban Missile Crisis.
For those who insist all this lacks significance when measured against the political achievements of the Kennedys, there’s Chappaquiddick. Ted, like his father and brothers, frolicked with countless women. Unlike them, he had a problem with alcohol, which made him sloppier. It’s one thing to drunkenly drive off a bridge with a young woman not your wife in the car. It’s quite another to slink off and leave her to drown while you’re trying to cover up the incident to preserve your political career. If he’d reported the incident right away as the law required, Mary Jo Kopechne would be alive today according to investigators. Whatever was left in me of Kennedy Worship Syndrome, it was thoroughly eliminated after reading Senatorial Privilege: The Chappaquiddick Coverup by Leo Damore. The Kennedy political machine, together with the Irish political mafia running Massachusetts at the time, gave Ted Kennedy a pass for what would have put anybody else in prison. Somehow, he kept his U.S. Senate seat. Only in Massachusetts, where KWS is epidemic, could this have happened.
Hearing endlessly of Ted Kennedy’s legislative “achievements,” foremost in my mind is The 1965 Immigration Act, which opened the door for 20 million illegal immigrants now bankrupting our country. That was Ted’s baby. As I watch ordinary Americans revolt against socialized medicine, I think of Ted Kennedy.
When I hear of his “senatorial civility,” I remember how he baselessly savaged Robert Bork before the Senate Judiciary Committee declaring: “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, children could not be taught about evolution.”
About the only positive thing about Ted Kennedy’s political career is when he ran in the primaries against an incumbent president from his own party, weakening Jimmy Carter and ushering in Ronald Reagan.
Now there’s talk of changing the law in Massachusetts to preserve the “Kennedy” senate seat by appointing nephew Joe Kennedy. You remember the former congressman who has been kissing up to Hugo Chávez the past few years? Joe calls them “our good friends in Venezuela.” With friends like that, who needs enemies?
I don’t like to speak ill of the dead, but after last week, it’s pretty clear the mainstream media still suffers from KWS. As someone who recovered years ago, this Boston-Irish-Catholic-former Democrat had to get it out.