The price of admission


I felt a little bad writing a fairly vicious piece about Ted Kennedy that I posted pretty much at the cusp of his stay in this world. But then I considered that, seeing as how he was so sick, he probably would not read it. So I did not kill him.

What kills me right now, though, is that while there is nothing to be said for speaking ill of the dead, there is plenty to say about the very ill idea, which sounds like all but a done deal, to bury him in Arlington National Cemetery.

This is astonishing, and it is so wrong, that we do have to speak.

Ted Kennedy’s two years as a buck private in the Army were spent far, far from harm’s way — and there was plenty of harm to be had, in a place called Korea. He technically qualifies for Arlington (both as a veteran and a member of the Senate), which despite running out of space is still open for business. But he is not merely going into a private’s grave or even a Senator’s : He is being buried alongside his assassinated brothers, a former President, Senator and war hero and a former Attorney General, bona fide presidential candidate and Senator, murdered by politically motivated killers for what they stood for.

And what did Ted Kennedy stand for?

Right, he just died. I’m not writing that piece.

But his burial alongside John and Robert Kennedy vastly demeans their memories, and is an uncomfortable reminder of the heavy thread — well, call it a chain — of political fixing and nepotism that characterized the entire sad Kennedy saga.

Jack and Bobby were not perfect politicians, leaders or men by any stretch of the imagination, but in the scheme of things, they arguably rose to the level of opportunity their father bought for them.

I know this because I read about in books. I was child when each of them was killed. But to paraphrase Lloyd Bentsen, we all knew Ted Kennedy, and he’s no Jack Kennedy… or Bobby.

Notwithstanding his legendary personal charm and “effectiveness” in the Senate, and not even considering his worst crime, Ted Kennedy was merely the undistinguished scion of a very wealthy, powerful family. He not only achieved virtually nothing on his own merit prior to his preposterous placement into the Senate, but had already been shown to lack the basic sort of ethical standards that would have, in that time, disqualified anyone else for high public office. Nonetheless he spent a gin-soaked lifetime raising the taxes and controlling the lives of those less privileged than himself, assured of life and, as it turns out, death in that exalted office by virtue of representing a constituency besotted by a family name burnished by his more accomplished and “martyred” older brothers.

Edward Kennedy’s internment alongside those brothers is a tawdry reminder of the stain of corrupt nepotism and elitism that will demean what had, despite those dubious origins of the Kennedy legacy, become a hallowed place in American civic religion. It is the wrong thing, yes, but in fact it is probably, at the end of the day, entirely right.

Cross-posted on Likelihood of Success.

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