Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Ted Kennedy, 1932 - 2009
I know there will be idle talk in the morning about the continuing brutality of Death's Grip this, the summer of 2009. I believe E. has made mention of it in these pages as well. But seriously, if we make it to the September Equinox with Rue McLanahan and Betty White walking among us in God's Dominion, then Death, I will know, has a soul, and we should all breathe a sigh of relief that He has claimed only Michael Jackson et al.
That said, the death of Ted Kennedy is notable and need be marked, not in the least because his death marks the death of mainstream, national Liberalism. I haven't really followed Sherrod Brown's record close enough to term him a liberal. Paul Wellstone has been dead for many years. Al Franken had hawkish tendencies during the buildup to and waging of the War on Iraq (and has declined taking on a serious and objective look at Middle East policy). And Russ Feingold, for all his anti-war tendencies and civil liberties street cred, was a whorish apologist for Israel's crimes against sanity in southern Lebanon in 2006.
Liberalism is a third-rail word in our electoral politics, As we know, despite occasional virtues, there is no real Liberal spirit among our elected officials. Watching our pragmatist, impotent President and the scatterbrained Democratic Congress he lets run wild, fail even to begin a dialogue on meaningful, universal health care coverage, without succumbing to the shrill masses, without stripping from their proposals health-care reform's central tenet, a public option, in some sort of pre-emptive compromise with the sullen and lame minority party -- watching this, we should know that the Liberal philosophy of equality, welfare, and social justice has no place in our Government. Ted Kennedy -- ever the parliamentarian, make no mistake -- did at least this: He wore Liberalism like a crest on his blazer. For that -- and not just that, of course -- he should be honored. And so I honor him.
But I am also a bastard. So, let me tell you my one Ted Kennedy story:
My childhood friend Paul, the eldest brother of three much younger boys, grew up in a stately manse near Embassy Row. One Halloween many years ago, he took his kid brothers out trick or treating. They got to Ted Kennedy's place, and rang the doorbell. The liberal lion answered the door, absolutely smashed, and with some fine Irish sloshing about in a tumbler in his hand. Bleary eyed, he sized up Paul's brothers, their arms outstretched for caloric bounty. In one graceless move Teddy reached for the bowl of Nestle Crunches, but in so doing knocked a lit candle into the dustbin. The contents of the dustbin immediately caught fire. Irish in hand, Irish in blood, Teddy let out a torrent of expletives and ran off for the fire extinguisher (or another drink, who really knows). Paul and the kids slowly retreated from his doorstep, sans Nestle Crunches. I'm not sure if they went back to casa Kennedy the next year.