As a white Catholic three generations removed from the days when the subdivisions among white people meant something, I had some trouble shaking the urge to refer to the Kennedy brothers collectively as "our Obama." But in spite of the genetic penchant we "White ethnics" have for negative romance; melodrama, martyrdom, and general caterwauling, I have to accept that it just doesn't fit, at all. It goes without saying that anti-Catholic bigotry in the U.S., while real, is small fish compared to what Blacks and Native Americans have suffered through. Mainly though the "our Obama" phrase is just 'USA Today'-headline level stupid. I've been sleeping in irregular two-hour snatches lately and that's the only excuse I have for even thinking it up.
Still I pour my 40 for Ted Kennedy. I pour it with pride and without qualification. The little brothers contributions to civil rights, workers rights, health care, and education have indisputably left the country better off than it would have been without him. There have been times when Kennedy was almost single-handidly keeping the federal government functioning as something more than a Monopoly money factory for the Pentagon. In those days when the State was in the hands of those who viewed government as a necessary evil, existing chiefly so that the people would have some form of central authority to worship, Ted Kennedy did what he could to make government actually do its damned job.
Yes I know about Chappaquiddick, and so does everyone else. Yes I know that baby brother Kennedy was able to get away with an epic amount of shit for being a Kennedy, so does everyone else. Still Ted Kennedy is slightly more admired than reviled, and rightly so.
This is not now and never has been a liberal media conspiracy to downplay Chappaquiddick, Chappaquiddick is loud and clear, and it was unforgivable. There are those who demand that Ted Kennedy be known for Chappaquiddick and only Chappaquiddick, who would accuse me and anyone else who admires the man for being amoral partisan hacks or mindless Kennedy-oglers in considering anything but Chappaquiddick in judging the man. Sorry but no, In spite of self-help slogans to the contary life is not defined by any individual moment; neither the bright shining kind nor the dark and despicable kind. Life is the summation of moments, choices, and actions. Ted Kennedy caused a great deal of pain and suffering in his personal life, the good he has done for the country outweighs that.
In the second half of the twentieth century, the idea that government should help people gradually came to be seen as a radical one. The sorry fact is that a family of spoiled vagiholic monarchists gave the concept of activist government the celebrity appeal it needed to stay viable during the long post-civil rights-era Thermidor. The fact that we needed these rakes is our fault, not theirs. What would you do if you had society at your feet like they did? And hell, I know I'm not alone in finding it very hard not to like these guys. Have you ever worked in a bar as a teenager, and have some pie-eyed banker or lawyer start telling you about the time he did acid with a bunch of Mexicans and ask you what it's like to be fuck the sixteen-year-old waitress with a rose tattoo on her ankle? The Kennedy's are like that. While the Bushes drink their near-beer, produce barely enough children to replace themselves, and refuse themselves any attempt at emotional release outside of their Abercrombiefied excuse for churches, the Kennedy's do aristocracy as its meant to be done; baroque, decadent, obscene insatiable, Catholic. Tonight the sons of Joseph are abusing barmaids together in eternity.