Tom McLaughlin

A former history teacher, Tom is a columnist who lives in Lovell, Maine. His column is published in Maine and New Hampshire newspapers and on numerous web sites. Email: tommclaughlin@fairpoint.net

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Kennedy Worship Syndrome


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 was in the fourth grade at St. William’s School in Tewksbury, Massachusetts - about twenty miles outside of Boston. My teacher, Sister Charles Paul, talked endlessly about Senator 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 next to JFK at NAGE meeting

My father had worked with then-Senator John Kennedy in the fifties 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 US 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 infuenced 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 kept his US 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.”

When I hear of his patriotism, I remember how he treasonously undercut President Reagan during the Cold War by offering a secret deal to Soviet Premier Yuri Andropov.

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 Chavez 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.

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16 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree with you more! I'll bet this editorial doesn't appear in the Bridgton News! Keep up the good work, Tom. Perhaps this country will start to wake up to what is being done to it right under our noses if people like you who have a bully pulpit can get the word out past the pinko media!

9/2/09, 7:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The American public needs idols, having no royalty of its own, but unfortunately, some of these idols have feet of clay...

9/2/09, 9:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Tom your dad almost looks in shock...hehehe.

-tomax7

9/2/09, 11:19 AM  
Blogger Tom McLaughlin said...

Yeah, and I think he was. Seat on the left is Congressman John McCormack who later became Speaker of the US House. Seated on the right is Edith Rogers - one of the first women in Congress. Seated between them is Ken Lyons who founded NAGE. Don't know who the guy standing on the left is. I think my father felt out of his league. JFK looks bored.

My father told me he took the same cab as Kennedy when they left. Kennedy got left off first and he stiffed my father for the cab fare.

9/2/09, 11:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

wow a "spirited" party in 1967 with the RFKs? You mean you were totally annihilated LOL!

9/2/09, 1:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Joe Kennedy, the nephew, makes Uncle Teddy look good. If you have ever look into his eyes you can see the back of his head. Another victim of Massachusetts Irish Catholic inbreeding. Whether you agree or disagree, like or dislike Edward M Kennedy, you will beg for him to come back if Joe gets the job. Good luck to the Peoples Republic of Mass.

9/2/09, 1:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You sound bitter, Tom. Glad you were able to get that off your chest. Now go slink back in your hole with all the other losers where Dick Cheney is the real hero.

9/2/09, 2:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I consider myself pretty liberal and agreed with many of Sen. Kennedy's viewpoints and legislation. But I've never had the Kennedy Syndrome. The whole Chappaquidick fiasco has always ticked me off. I could never respect a man who essentially got away with murder because of his last name. Whether the good he did for this country outweighs his involvement with that woman's drowning is not for me to decide.

Tim S.

9/2/09, 5:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gotta love the offer of collusion against Reagan made to Adropov. Certainly outlines the loyalties of both Kennedy & Cronkite.. Guess it remains a true challenge to be more self-serving than that bunch.

9/2/09, 7:35 PM  
Blogger Tom McLaughlin said...

To the various anonymous posters:

Yes, I was inebriated and very sick that night - my first and only encounter with Southern Comfort.

Young Joe Kennedy was there, but my memory of him is vague due to the above.

Am I bitter? Well, I did resent the idle rich I encountered in places like Martha's Vineyard. I was sixteen then and I went back to my summer job on the mainland lugging plywood and 80 lb. bales of shingles on job sites. I also knew people who did time for much less than the Kennedys got away with over and over. So, I guess I still harbor some of that bitterness, but not much. Mostly I'm nauseated by people in the media and elsewhere who pretend there ever was such a thing as a Kennedy Camelot. I had to write this as a release.

Chappaquiddick? It speaks for itself. Read the book. It's between him and God now.

9/2/09, 8:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tom,
That second throw to Ted, hitting him in the noggin, must have jarred something inside - so I guess we have YOU to blame for the mess in MA! And now you've fled the scene of the crime (you're own, Chappaquidick, so to speak) by living in Maine! (Only joking!)

9/5/09, 12:24 PM  
Blogger tomax7 said...

...you mean St. Michael J. isn't on the front page of the newspapers?

9/5/09, 2:27 PM  
Blogger Tom McLaughlin said...

I need to get back in the habit of watching the mainstream media again. It's annoying, yes, and I've gotten away from it for that reason. But I need to know what my fellow Americans are seeing and hearing, because I'm out of touch with them more so every day when I don't.

It would also be more fodder for future columns about what isn't being reported as well as what is - Michael Jackson, ad nauseum.

No Tom. I take no responsibility for Ted Kennedy. He did it all himself.

9/6/09, 8:32 AM  
Blogger Average American said...

My Mom always told me if you can't say anything nice about someone, don't say anything.

Well, I have something nice to say about Ted Kennedy. His death was instramental in getting Michael Jackson off my television screen for a few days. For that I am thankful! It might be the only thing he EVER did that I appreciated.

9/8/09, 4:23 AM  
Blogger Steve said...

Mr. McLaughlin,
You write, "I don't like to speak ill of the dead..." right after you speak ill of the dead. When a conservative passes away, and I guess I'm thinking of VP Cheney, I guarantee partisan, heartless liberals will write incendiary comments about him, and then exonerate themselves by writing, "I don't like to speak ill of the dead..." I hope you won't take offense to them when they do.

"The idle rich?" Why are the wealthy liberals the idle rich, but wealthy conservatives are job creators?

9/1/11, 9:00 AM  
Blogger Tom McLaughlin said...

Because they are. Wealthy liberals like Ted Kennedy bite the hand that feeds them: capitalism.

9/1/11, 9:06 AM  

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