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Rot in hell, monster


For once in my miserable life, I wasn’t going to go there. Though there are so very many things to dislike about Ted Kennedy, I knew other people would mention them all today, and I don’t need the karma. But nobody’s quite nailed the thing that bugs me.

It’s the way Mary Jo Kopechne died. I mean her literal, actual last moments on earth. She almost certainly lived for some time on air trapped in the car. Maybe hours. The diver who recovered her body found her kneeling with her hands against the seat and her head in an air pocket.

Hours. In the pitch dark and cold and wet, breathing up her last, stale, warming scraps of air. Waiting for help to come. Help would surely come, wouldn’t it?

Ach. Makes sweat prickle along my hairline. I got stuck under an overturned canoe once, trapped (ironically) by my life preserver. I had an air pocket, too. It started to taste very bad very fast. My breath sounded like it was blaring out of a PA system into a high school gymnasium. I was under there five minutes, max, and I still have dreams.

No, I doubt Kennedy left knowing she was trapped alive. But I don’t see any evidence that he was particularly troubled by the idea, then or ever. He walked away from the accident and never reported it. Pulled a few strings, observed a few formalities and got off with a six-month suspension of his driver’s license.

Not five years later, Kennedy was screaming “is there one system of justice for the average citizen and another system for the high and mighty?” over Richard Nixon’s pardon for…whatever it was Nixon was supposed to have done. Without, apparently, feeling the slightest twinge of irony or embarrassment. Or anguish. Or self-awareness.

He named his dog Splash and wrote a book about him. He didn’t seem to have any idea there were subjects he should avoid. Or remorse he ought to feel. And nobody around him saw fit to tell him. Not that you can order someone to feel shame.

To them, Chappaquiddick was an unfortunate accident that happened to Ted Kennedy’s presidential hopes.

That’s monstrous, and all the good-deed-doing in the world can’t make it anything else.

August 27, 2009 — 7:25 pm
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