After The Wake, A Constituent Reflects On The Real “Kennedy Curse”.
Senator Ted Kennedy has received endless glowing
obituary tributes. This constituent, however, would like
to point out a more appropriate, and terrible, tribute
to Senator Kennedy that occurred recently in Brookline,
the charming city next to Boston where Joe and Rose
Kennedy first settled and started a family.
August 18th, just a week before Kennedy died, a young
woman exited a taxi just a short stroll from the former
Kennedy home. As she walked along, two men crept up from
behind and struck her on the back of the head. They
grabbed her by the throat, choked her, then dragged her
to a waiting pickup truck. Next, they tossed her into
the truck and drove to a secluded parking lot.
there, the men took turns raping her, then kicked her to
the curb, and drove away.
These two thugs were illegal aliens from Mexico and
suspect held in Brookline rape case,
By John M. Guilfoil,
August 23, 2009]
Luckily, the police could make a quick arrest because
they had recently cited the men for a traffic violation.
However, because of the
local sanctuary policies
Kennedy had long championed,
the police had been unable to inquire into their
devastated young woman is another one of Ted Kennedy`s
victims. And there have been thousands like her across
I was a little boy my family rented a large cottage on
Squaw Island in Hyannisport,
Massachusetts. It is an unassumingly beautiful place
connected to the rest of town by a half-mile of charming
coastal road that ends right at the entrance to the
to stay on Squaw Island
when he was President because it was semi-isolated and
the Secret Service considered the Kennedy compound a
security risk. (One of the myths about the Kennedys is
that they actually live in a
In fact, they
on a public street—Marchant Avenue—and
other families live there besides them. Sure, a
detail cop is often posted
the street`s entrance, but you can walk right by him and
he will do nothing to stop you).
After Kennedy`s assassination, the house passed on to
his brother Ted.
don`t ever remember seeing Ted that summer. But I do
remember seeing his mother,
She took long walks along the beachy drive that leads to
Squaw Island, and always wore sunglasses and a
wide-brimmed hat. Mrs. Kennedy was gracious, and always
smiled and greeted us whenever she passed by.
grandmother, an Irish immigrant, naturally thought it
was a grand honor for us to be living near the Kennedys.
All of her grandchildren dutifully agreed.
summer was my introduction to the Kennedy mystique.
It is strange the hold the Kennedys
have held over Massachusetts for so many
years—especially because their roots in the region are
not as strong as many suppose. Aside from Joe Sr. and
Rose, they are certainly not Bostonians. The Kennedys
are actually more like rootless
“citizens of the
world” who don`t particularly identify with the
country, or any region within it. After Bobby was born,
Rose and Joe Kennedy divided their time between homes in
Westchester, New York; Palm Beach, Florida; and even
Great Britain. The house in Hyannisport was just a
media helps to perpetuate these and other myths about
the Kennedys because they primarily view them not as
leaders, but as celebrities—a status the family has
might say that for the Kennedys, politics has always
been a means of obtaining celebrity status. Joe Sr., who
a very successful
Hollywood film producer,
worked very hard to get himself and his children regular
coverage on television and in the newspapers—and often
paid good money for it.
The family`s celebrity status also
helped to perpetuate what is now the most famous Kennedy
It is, of course, impossible not to
sympathize with a family that suffers two very public
assassinations inside of five years. But in most cases,
“tragedy” is simply an act of selfishness and
irresponsibility that the family was unable to cover up.
example, when Ted accidentally drove his car off Dyke
Bridge on Chappaquiddick Island and drowned Mary Jo
Kopechne inside of it—that was a
because it could not be concealed. But when President
Jack Kennedy had an affair with the
it was not a tragedy—because Jack got away with it.
Still, the advantage of the
“Kennedy Curse” is that it makes the Kennedys seem like victims,
even when they themselves are entirely to blame.
Certainly the best example of invoking the Kennedy Curse
as a form of damage control was Ted Kennedy`s televised
mea culpa after Chappaquiddick, in which he portrayed the accident
as another family tragedy, this time with himself as the
victim, invoked his dead brothers and wondered aloud if
“some awful curse
did actually hang over all the Kennedys”. [The
Mysteries of Chappaquiddick,
August 1, 1969]
Miraculously, the speech worked. Western Union delivered
more than 10,000 telegrams to the Kennedy compound and
they were 100 to 1 in favor of Kennedy staying in
office. In the next election, Kennedy defeated his
opponent by over 500,000 votes.
of that was Irish ethnic loyalty. But it would soon come
back to haunt Boston`s Irish.
June, 1974, Judge Arthur Garrity ordered the Boston
Public Schools to desegregate and imposed a
forced busing plan
on the city. The plan was
unworkable, extremely expensive, and deliberately
designed to punish the working-class Irish.
Worse, Garrity gave the city of Boston only
to prepare for one of the
most disastrous social experiments of the 20th
fact the media never mentions about forced busing: Judge
Garrity was a Kennedy man. Garrity managed JFK`s 1960
White House campaign in Wisconsin and was rewarded by
being made a federal prosecutor. In 1965, Senator Ted
Kennedy recommended Garrity to President Lyndon Johnson
for a seat on the federal court.
phone call from Kennedy could have forced Garrity to nix
the integration plan and could have given the city more
time to work out a reasonable school assignment policy.
Instead, Kennedy did nothing. He refused to even meet
with his anti-busing constituents. After all, Ted, like
virtually every supporter of forced busing, didn`t live
in Boston. So he never had to place his own children on
Significantly, many state Republicans also supported
forced busing, including
Senator Ed Brooke,
the first African American elected to the Senate since
Reconstruction (and the last, 1967-1979, Republican
Senator from Massachusetts). The GOP was strictly the
party of the suburbs. It blew its chance to make inroads
with white urban voters in Boston and beyond.
Nevertheless, the extreme unpopularity of forced busing
helped to create the Reagan Democrats of the next
decade. Reagan won famously liberal Massachusetts twice,
and was not afraid to campaign in Boston`s most clannish
neighborhoods. Today, a large mural of Reagan still
hangs on the wall at
Boston`s Eire Pub,
the most historic Irish pub in the city.
Kennedy`s handling of forced busing should have exposed
him as a man who, despite recent claims to the contrary,
always put politics ahead of people. Perhaps the most
heartrending example of this occurred when
Ted`s wife Joan
forced to attend Mary Jo Kopechne`s funeral in
Pennsylvania. The public humiliation of attending the
funeral of the woman with whom her husband probably
committed adultery, and doing so under intense press
scrutiny, may have contributed to her fourth miscarriage
soon after the funeral. Joan later
felt like it was choosing politics over our baby”.
the years after Chappaquiddick, Ted lived in an
alcohol-abetted haze and hugged himself to the left wing
of his party, most likely because they would never force
him to reconcile his private life with his public life.
Ted became radically
pro-abortion. He embraced racial preferences,
every other left-wing cause imaginable.
In 1980, Roger Mudd of CBS News interviewed Senator
Kennedy at his home on Squaw Island on challenge to
President Jimmy Carter for the Democratic nomination.
Mudd`s first question was: “Why do you want to be president?” Ted stared off into space, and
then began to ramble incoherently.[Video]
He was clearly a lost man who would soon go on to lose
During the next decade Kennedy would continue to act
like a lost man, often speaking incoherent gibberish
during committee hearings and public appearances.
the mid 1990s, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts was
suffering from a growing case of Kennedy fatigue. In
1992, Kennedy`s nephew,
William Kennedy Smith,
was tried for raping (on Good Friday, no less) a woman
he brought back to the Kennedy estate in Palm Beach
after a night carousing with the Senator. The following
year, Congressman Joe Kennedy
dumped his wife
marry a member of his staff—and also arranged for an
without telling his former wife.
decided to capitalize on the family`s fading stature and
ran for the Senate against Ted Kennedy. And for a long
time the race was tight.
Immigration was never a topic during the 1994
campaign—probably because Romney supported it, as he did
at the start of his 2008 presidential campaign. But
mostly because immigration was not a noticeable problem
in Massachusetts then the way it is now.
There is a bizarre irony concerning immigration`s effect
on Ted Kennedy`s political viability.
Until very recently, Bostonians associated Kennedy only
And people have been very thankful to have this steady
flow of Irish into the Boston area because it keeps the
Personally, I cannot count how many times I have heard
Ted Kennedy given credit for keeping Boston white.
For Ted`s part, he played the
“Curse card” again and again.
“The Kennedys are not in public office to make money”,
thundered in response
to a debate question about the family`s use of tax
shelters. “We have paid too high a cost.”
gave nearly the exact same reply to a question about
If only Romney had pointed out the
obvious: that the so-called
is really a smokescreen to conceal the family`s
habitually selfish behavior.
As Seymour Hirsch revealed in The Dark Side of Camelot,
F. Kennedy was not a sagacious statesman, but a
disturbed sex addict who risked national security in
order to satisfy his limitless libido.
for a moment and consider the extraordinary selfishness
of a president who solicited prostitutes while in the
White House, and carried on an affair with
Could any president have been more liable to blackmail?
young senator, Ted would often frolic naked in the White
House pool with
and the many prostitutes that the Secret Service brought
in for them. It was therefore perfectly in character for
him to get in the car with Mary Jo Kopechne that summer
night in 1969—and it certainly wasn`t the fault of some
If Ted Kennedy is remembered for
anything, it should surely be for the 1965 Immigration
Act he pushed through Congress. That is the only genuine
surreptitious transformation of the American nation into
something so vastly different from the one the Kennedys
were born into, a nation as broken and confused as the
Senator Edward Kennedy himself.
Matthew Richer (email
him) is a writer living in Massachusetts. He is the former American
Editor of Right NOW magazine.