Saturday, August 29, 2009
Edward Kennedy's Legacy
Senator Edward Kennedy died last week. He is being eulogized as the Lion of the United States Senate. His legacy is very complex. He acheived some admirable goals, but his behavior and left leaning views left his image tarnished.
Two weeks prior to his death, he gave President Obama a ten page sealed letter to deliver to the Pope during Obama's visit to the Vatican. Perhaps this best exemplifies the power the Kennedy's weilled in that the very President of our nation is used as a mailman.
Subsequently the Pope, who recently sent condolences to the Kennedy family on the death of Kennedy's sister, has been silent about Edward Kennedy. At his funeral mass we learn the letter was part confession and part justification for his life. No mention was made of his stance on abortion.
JFK and Robert Kennedy were assassinated in days when government officials were held in esteem and protected by a silenced news media. Those days are gone, due to former President Nixon being caught in lies and deceit. His brother's deaths left Edward Kennedy as the golden boy. For the position he was handed, his wealth, attitude and behavior got the better of him.
It is no secret that he was an alcoholic.
This first came to light when he drove off a bridge, killing Mary Jo Kopechne into Poucha Pond, a tidal basin off of Chappaquiddick island. He rescued himself and left her to perish in the overturned vehicle and did not report anything until the following day. After this he made a tearful plea on national television for forgiveness. A secret inquest and a Massachusetts grand jury investigation acquitted Kennedy of wrong doing. I ask you, did this seem just?
During the Viet Nam era, a time that most of the younger generation has long since forgotten, Kennedy initially was vocal regarding the expansion of United States involvement. During those days when we would see our nations young men being shipped home in a box every night on the six o'clock news.
However the Kennedy family seemed to avoid being drafted into the armed services, a plight that befell millions of boys that were fresh out of high school, unable to buy their way out of a future in Southeast Asia.
During the Nixon years Kennedy's strong backing of the unions lead to his crusade for government mandated health care. Due to the impetus of the unions he pushed for a single payer US health care system. He compromised with the administration for the creation of HMO's.
This move took health care decisions out of the hands of doctors and medical professionals and putting them into the hands of insurance company bureaucrats. This is a situation the current Administration would like to take up a notch.
His divorce, the Chappaquiddick incident, his support of abortion, his chronic alcoholism and womanizing only furthered his blotched reputation. He was instrumental in passing legislation for the COBRA act, which was to make health care portable upon leaving employment, however most common folks cannot afford the oppressively high monthly out-of-pocket premiums.
His reputation was further tarnished during a stay at the family's Palm Beach estate, when he walked into a bedroom clad in only a nightshirt where his nephew was with a young lady. The nephew and the young lady left the home and had sex on the beach. But the young lady said later that it was rape. A nationally televised trial only shed further light on Kennedy's drinking a philandering.
I say all of these negative things about Kennedy, but there was some good that came of his 46 years as a Senator. Most of this had to do with various health care acts that made health care portable and a new Medicare provision to provide affordable drugs. He also favored strong action against the Taliban and pointed out the vulnerability of the military Humvee. He helped broker peace in Ireland. He favored compromise over demanding his way.
It is bothersome to me there are no term limits for the United States Congress. It is beyond me, with all the crap that Kennedy did during his lifetime, he was consistently re-elected by the citizens of Massachusetts.
In my opinion it is time to think about term limits for both the US Senate and the House.