Sunday, August 30, 2009

Ted Kennedy, Jr. Remembers Dad: “He was a lover of everything French, cheese, wine, and women”

Mary Jo Kopechne

Much has been said and written in the past several days about the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy as the nation mourns his passing. For the most part, those who have praised him for the good he accomplished in his long career in the U.S. senate have not failed to note, without bothering with details, the public man was not without his personal flaws.

So it was that on Saturday morning while watching the Memorial Mass at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Basilica, I held my breath momentarily during the remembrance of Ted Kennedy, Jr. Describing his father, Ted, Jr. said, “He was a lover of everything French, cheese, wine, and, yes, women.”

The camera caught Vicki Reggie’s startled, pained expression an instant before she forced a smile.

Ted Kennedy and women. It was a topic seldom if ever mentioned during the 2008 Democratic primary while the Obama campaign, party leaders, a considerable coterie of upscale elitist Democrats, and their media allies celebrated Ted’s passing the torch to their preferred candidate in the hope of keeping Camelot alive.

However, the above rabid mob, zealous in their efforts to destroy Hillary Clinton, dug up every right wing attack on the Clintons they could find from the nineties, zeroing in on Bill Clinton’s sexual indiscretions. But they didn’t just heap ridicule and scorn on the former president. They repeatedly knifed Hillary Clinton for her choice to preserve her marriage and keep her family together over the years while pursuing an exemplary career of public service.

It’s way past time someone asked the questions that Maureen Callahan poses today in her article in the New York Post titled Kennedy’s Free Pass with Women. Callahan begins:

In all the obits published and specials aired this week, Chappaquiddick gets a few paragraphs, a few minutes, a tidy recapping of the events of July 19, 1969: The married Ted Kennedy, driving late at night with young campaign aide Mary Jo Kopechne, pitches off a bridge and into the water below. He escapes; she drowns. He does not report the accident for 10 hours. He pleads guilty and gets a suspended sentence, two months in jail.

In most of these narratives, Chappaquiddick is told as Ted's tragedy, the thing that kept him from ever becoming president. And in these narratives, he is chastened, goes on to make amends through a life of public service, advocating for the disadvantaged and the downtrodden -- and, especially, women. No one's perfect, right?

But how is it that so many women unabashedly revere Kennedy today? The particulars of Chappaquiddick are especially gory; his behavior after the accident approaches the amoral. Once he broke free and swam to the surface, Kennedy said that he dove back down seven or eight times to rescue Kopechne. Failing, he swam back to shore and checked back into his hotel, and a short time later lodged a noise complaint with the desk clerk. The people in the room next to his were partying and it was interfering with his sleep. Then he asked the desk clerk for the time.

According to the Aug. 4, 1969 edition of Newsweek, that clerk, Russell E. Peachey, told Kennedy it was 2:25 a.m., then asked, "Is there anything else I can do for you?"

"No, thank you," Kennedy replied.

Callahan continues:

In 1990, GQ magazine ran a devastating profile of Kennedy. Two 16-year-old girls near the Capitol startled by a limo rolling up, the door opening, Ted sitting in the back with a bottle of wine, asking one, then the other, to join. A former aide who acted as Ted's "pimp." His penchant for dating women so young that one did not know he was the subject of many books. Kennedy, at a swank DC restaurant with his drinking buddy Chris Dodd, throwing a petite waitress on his dinner table with such force that glass and flatware shatters and goes flying. Then Ted throws her on to Dodd's lap and grinds against her. He is interrupted by other waitstaff. He is later caught in the same restaurant, in a semi-private area, having sex on the floor with a lobbyist.

There’s more in Callahan’s article on Ted’s escapades, before she points out:

Most feminists don't think Ted Kennedy was a misogynist. Upon news of his death, NOW, Emily's List and Planned Parenthood all released emotional, laudatory statements. It's true that Kennedy's legislative record deserves such a response. And he was quiet enough in the last 15 years of his life that it's not hard to minimize his past behavior if you want to.

Keep in mind, many of these same feminists lauding Kennedy today were among those who chose to disparage Bill and Hillary Clinton during the 2008 Democratic primary. And as I’ve mentioned repeatedly over the ensuing months, it wasn’t just Ted Kennedy, especially among Democrats, who has been given a free pass for his womanizing over the years – the list includes his brothers JFK and RFK, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Jesse Jackson.


  1. Bobby Kennedy was my hero after meeting him in 1964 at my junior high school. He took the time to talk to me and I was thrilled. I followed his NY Senate race and at 18 I volunteer to help in his campaign for President in 1968. Edward leaving Mary Jo Kopechne in the water for 10 hours and him destroying Joan Kennedy was enough for me to not to like him. I didn't know about the other things until you mention in your blog. I wrote to Edward several times during last year stating the reasons I thought he should endorse Hillary Clinton who was/is qualified to step in on day 1 to be President. I believe he thought somehow it would damage "Camelot" he would not want another Clinton in the White House and after talking to a couple of historians and researching I'm not sure if he was a true champion of women's rights. After he endorsed Obama I threw out all of my campaign literature, newspapers clippings etc on the Kennedys (some as old as 1960). Camelot and my love for the Democratic party ended that day.

  2. Most feminists don't think Ted Kennedy was a misogynist......

    Strange times we live in. The feminists who do not see mosogynistic behavior in a charter member of the "boyz" club. There is also the fact that the "liberal lion" of the Senate supported and campaigned for a candidate that stands for no democratic issue I can think of. While the Clintons stood for all of them.

    Not all of us are blind nor on the take.

  3. Hi Boo,

    Strange times indeed, especially where feminism is concerned. I fear the movement has disintegrated even further in the aftermath of the 2008 election.

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  5. Hi anonymous,

    Thanks for sharing your unfortunate experiences with the Kennedys.
    They say the Kennedy mystique still lives, fashioned mostly by the power of wealth and social status. I believe the nation could move forward without it and be much better off.