Judging Kennedy

As I listened to President Obama this morning eulogize Teddy Kennedy – “His extraordinary life on this Earth has come to an end. The extraordinary good that he did lives on.” – my thoughts turned to Patty Baldwin.

She’s the Florida woman who in 1991 accused Kennedy’s nephew, William Kennedy Smith, of raping her at the family’s Palm Beach compound while Uncle Teddy pranced around without his underpants.

I wonder how she feels today about the Massachusetts senator’s passing.

I also wonder how the family of Mary Jo Kopechne has taken the news that the Lion of the Senate has succumbed to a brain tumor.

Does it ease the lingering memories of the young woman’s drowning death in 1969 after Kennedy drove the car in which she was the sole passenger off a bridge in Chappaquiddick Island in the Bay State?

I understand that the late senator in 1991 apologized, sort of, for his failure to live a life of moral uprightness.

“Today more than ever,” he told an audience at Harvard University (from which he was expelled for cheating decades earlier), I believe that each of us as individuals must not only struggle to make a better world, but to make ourselves better too.”

The question is whether Sen. Kennedy made himself better during the last 18 years of his life.

He married in 1992 – to Vicki Reggie, a former intern in his Senate office – and thereafter appeared to have put his scandalous lifestyle behind him.

Maybe his transformation was genuine. Maybe it was a politically-motivated façade.

The final judgment on Teddy Kennedy’s life will be rendered neither by his hagiographers, like Mr. Obama, or his long-time critics, like your’s truly, but by God.

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This entry was published on August 26, 2009 at 10:22 AM and is filed under Public Figures. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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