Alleged crimes. Alleged lies. Cover ups. Pay offs. No, I’m not talking about President Donald Trump, but Senator Ted Kennedy.
The story told in “Chappaquiddick” (2017), which I just finished watching, is deeply disturbing. Kennedy, driving while intoxicated, careens off a bridge into a pond, where his passenger, Mary Jo Kopechne dies. Did she immediately drown? Or, as the rescue team conjectured, did she survive for several hours?
Kennedy failed to report the crime for roughly nine hours. Did Kopechne die because Kennedy spent nine hours more concerned with the political fallout? Or did she die because Kennedy was irresponsible behind the wheel?
What’s flabbergasting is that Kennedy essentially emerged from this incident unscathed. In fact he was eulogized as “the Lion of the Senate.” Sure, Chappaquiddick meant he couldn’t immediately run for president. But there’s no certainty that he would have been victorious in 1972 against an extremely strong Richard Nixon. By most accounts, Kennedy’s ’80 run was a bust because he wasn’t a very good candidate.
I think I was born too late to venerate the Kennedys. I did not experience any of the headiness, only the disrepute. Kennedy curse? Pshaw! When a family lives its life as if its power immunizes it from reality, it is not a curse. It is foolish. It’s also tragic — when it costs the lives of innocent people, such as Kopechne.
As the “fixers” focus intently on protecting a Kennedy, one voice, Ted’s cousin Joe Gargan, reminds them who the real victim is: not poor Teddy, but Mary Jo, the woman whose life was tragically ended. His words fall on deaf ears. For the Kennedy machine only the Kennedys matter.
Shana Goldberg may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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