Thursday, August 27, 2009

On the Passing of Edward Kennedy -- A Dissenting View

I dissent from the adulation being heaped upon Edward “Ted” Kennedy, the late senator from Massachusetts, by the liberal media.

The United States has thrived on a commitment to the values of individual liberty, personal responsibility, and self-reliance. Edward Kennedy, in his public and private lives, worked to undermine them. He took a different view. He was the quintessential American liberal of the modern era, espousing a philosophy born of post-war pacifism and 1960’s dreamy childish utopianism, for whom government-enforced and monitored “fairness” and “equality” are foremost objectives. Kennedy was a prominent leader of a political movement that promotes the growth and expansion of a central government for controlling ever-more aspects of our lives under the direction of ruling liberal elites, all ostensibly for our own good. The modern liberal moral conceit blinds them to the ultimate destructive consequence of their philosophy, as Andrew Klavan recently summarized (link) so well in the WSJ: “Free people can treat each other justly, but they can't make life fair. To get rid of the unfairness among individuals, you have to exercise power over them. The more fairness you want, the more power you need. Thus, all dreams of fairness become dreams of tyranny in the end.”

In pursuit of his vision for America Kennedy could be vicious and deceitful, perhaps most notably in his treatment of Supreme Court nominees from Republican presidents. Scott Johnson at Powerline blog reminds us (link) that Kennedy said from the floor of the Senate that “Robert Bork's America is a land in which … blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters….” – just a snippet of what Johnson calls a “willfully false and remarkably coarse attack on Bork” (and that’s putting it politely). Karl Rove reminds us in a TV interview that Kennedy called now Justice Alito a “bigot” during his confirmation process. Smearing as racists those you oppose is not the action of a fair and decent man, but is a part of an ends-justify-the-means approach of dubious morality. His last political act was a shameless and unprincipled effort to convince fellow Massachusetts Democrats to have one rule for Republicans but a better one for Democrats on filling open Senate seats, which I just wrote about here.

Edward Kennedy lived his life as a sometimes wild pampered rich boy on his father’s money. Everything he got he was given. His father got him into Harvard but he was expelled for cheating. His father gave him his Senate seat before he was even old enough to sit in it, and thus it had to be held for a while by a family retainer. But most telling of all, this is the man who left a woman to suffer a horrible death trapped in the submerged car he had just driven off a Chappaquiddick Island bridge while driving drunk, as he swam away and slithered off not to call for help that may well have saved her but rather to sober up and gather the Kennedy family lawyers and media retainers to concoct a cover story that the liberal press willingly endorsed as co-conspirator.

I do not say that he was a bad man in every aspect of his life. But his politics were wrong for an America of free, self-reliant, and self-directed citizens, and his personal behavior and political style showed remarkable failings.

John M Greco