Senator Kennedy Not the Greatest Senator of Our Age
By: Craig Chamberlain
Senator Edward Kennedy, the longtime Senator from Massachusetts, has died. Upon the news of his deaths tributes from around the world started pouring in for the senior Senator. He was hailed as a great Senator, he was praised for helping start the negotiations between the British government and Northern Ireland. President Obama praised him as being the greatest Senator of our age, a comment that, I’m sure, has Senator Byrd fuming.
But even if President Obama’s statement was true, it’s not saying a lot. I mean if Senator Kennedy is your brightest light then your group must be made up of some low watt bulbs. When you look back at the Senate’s golden age and see names like Clay, Calhoun, Webster, Benton, Seward, Douglas, Houston, Davis, it’s pretty hard to look at our current collection of senior statesmen and see any comparison. It’s highly unlikely that future historians will look to this group with reverence and awe. So being the most impressive Senator out of this class is like being the best football player on the Detroit Lions, you can brag but would you really want to?
A look at the Senator’s career would show, that other than being a nasty partisan, he didn’t have much to brag about. His political positions constantly put him on the wrong side of history. He was a dove during the Cold War. He was against Vietnamization which was, perhaps, the only policy that could have secured an independent South Vietnam. He was one of the players who secured the cancellation military aid to South Vietnam and sealed its fate to the North.
We have him to thank for the Immigration and Nationality act of 1965, this ended the quota system on immigration and opened the flood gates for the torrent of illegal immigrants we’ve had since then. A long time advocate of single payer, government run health care that would abolish private health insurance, Senator Kennedy was never able to achieve this goal, but it’s very likely that the Democrats will cram this through congress, now, as a tribute to Senator Kennedy. (just what the country needs, one more Kennedy inspired screw job)
Then there was his treatment of Judge Bork. Want to see how he really treated people? All you have to do is look back to the hearings that would have put Judge Robert Bork on the Supreme Court. Kennedy accused him of being everything but an SS storm trooper. A perfectly qualified judge was demonized by a man who didn’t have the brains to tie his own shoes.
Of course, we’re forgetting his disastrous run for the Presidency in 1980. When your party prefers Jimmy Carter over you, and your supposed to be the senior statesman of your party, you know things are bad. We owe Jimmy Carter a vote of thanks, he spared the country a Ted Kennedy Presidency.
Of course that was mostly due to Chappaquiddick, where he left 28 year old Mary Jo Kopechne to die after he crashed his 1967 Oldsmobile into Poucha Pond inlet. He fled the scene, leaving her behind, and didn’t report anything to the authorities until he body was discovered the next morning. Kennedy denied any negligence on his part, and he was punished with a two month suspended sentence, and was easily reelected to the United States Senate.
Senator Kennedy may not have had good political instincts, but they were consistent. Whatever the debate was over, you would find him on the left wing of it. The Cold War, health care, abortion, taxes, education, the military, Iraq, Afghanistan, or whatever it was. He was often called the liberal lion, but like all liberals he was toothless. Able to roar at the top of his lungs, but unable to bite.
No, Senator Kennedy was not evil incarnate, but he was hardly this progressive Olympian that so many have made him out to be. He was a man, a terribly flawed one in most respects, but all people have flaws and will, in the end, be judged for them. Despite the eulogies he has received we need to remember that, he was not a political God, just a politician, and be all accounts a rather ordinary one in an ordinary age.