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Ted Kennedy's Female Troubles

There are times when I feel sorry for Ted Kennedy. He was born to play a Falstaffian role, ill-suited and ill-trained for the role destiny thrust upon him. And yet he muddles on, flailing from one scandal and misstep to another, constantly chafing under the ill-fitting crown given him as the champion of liberalism.

Edward Moore Kennedy, Sr., was the last of nine children of an incredibly powerful and driven man, and from the outset it was clear little was expected of him. The fourth of four sons, he could tell from the outset his father -- the legendary Joseph P. Kennedy -- set far more stock in his older sons. First came Joseph P. Junior, the old man's namesake and heir presumptive. Then came John Fitzgerald, named after his maternal grandfather, legendary Boston politician John Francis "Honey Fitz" Fitzgerald. Robert further honored Honey Fitz by bearing his middle name. Ted grew up knowing he was named after the family's long-loyal chauffeur, Eddie Moore. Joe's plan was for Joe Junior to become the first Irish Catholic president, to be succeeded by Jack. Robert would help his older brothers, and Teddy would... well, they'd find something to keep him out of trouble.

But Fate was not kind to Old Joe's plans. Jack was injured in World War II, and it took all of Old Joe's influence to convert what should have been scandal and disgrace into a tale of heroism. (Letting one's PT boat get run down by a destroyer is comparable to letting your Corvette get run over by an 18-wheeler on an 8-lane highway.) Joe Junior, envious of Jack's heroic treatment, volunteered for a very dangerous mission that cost him his life.

With the loss of Joe Junior, Old Joe sunk all his hopes on Jack. He pushed him to run for Congress, then the Senate, and finally the Presidency, with ever-loyal Bobby at his side.

Meanwhile, Ted continued to be, well, Ted. He enrolled in Harvard University in 1950, but was kicked out in 1951 after he was caught paying another student to take a Spanish test for him. He enlisted in the Army, but had a very undistinguished two-year career. He eventually returned to Harvard and got his degree.

In 1962, he finally got his first -- and last -- "real" job when he was elected to fill his brother Jack's vacant Senate seat. Fortunately, he had just turned 30, the minimum age to hold Senate office. And that's when things started going downhill.

Earlier, I called Ted a "Falstaffian" figure, and that's pretty accurate. But he also seems to be a Typhoid Mary for karma, as tragedies began to befall all around him, often leaving him either untouched or far less severely.

In 1963, his brother Jack was assassinated in Dallas.

In 1964, he was in a plane crash that killed the pilot and another passenger, leaving him with a severe back injury.

In 1968, his brother Robert was assassinated in Los Angeles.

And then, The Big One. July, 1969. After a party on Martha's Vineyard, Ted drove his car back towards the mainland. He drove off a bridge and dumped the car into a pond. He swam to shore, went to a hotel, chatted briefly with the clerk, and went to bed. In the morning, a fisherman spotted the car and reported it to the police.

And when the police recovered the car from the water, they found the body of 28-year-old Mary Jo Kopechne, a former campaign staffer for Robert's presidential bid and guest at the party. The coroner determined that she had survived the crash and had remained conscious for several hours in an airpocket in the submerged car before dying.

Teddy eventually pleaded guilty to "leaving the scene of an accident causing injury" and was given two months in jail (suspended) and his driver's license was suspended.

Ted married Virginia Joan Bennett in 1958, and they had three children. She stood by him through all his scandals and peccadillos, even his disastrous run for president in 1980. (His challenge to incumbent Jimmy Carter is considered by many a factor in Carter's eventual loss to Ronald Reagan). She endured all the jokes, snide remarks, and rumors about him (largely dealing with his fondness for women and strong drink), but they divorced in 1982. Since then, she has struggled with alcoholism. Recently, her grown children petitioned to be named her legal guardians, saying her alcoholism had left her unable to care for herself.

The family ties of the Kennedy clan are so strong that on the night of Easter this year (traditionally a big Kennedy family gathering day), Joan was found passed out, drunk, in a gutter outside her townhouse with a concussion and a broken shoulder, and a stranger carried her to the hospital. Since then, she has tried to sell her Cape Cod home, but her children are putting up a fierce legal fight to preserve the home where they grew up.

Kennedy's womanizing ways are a Washington legend. When a supermarket tabloid published pictures of Kennedy getting "amorous" with a woman on his sailboat, one of his colleagues (Senator Howell Heflin) remarked that it appeared that Kennedy "had done changed his position on offshore drilling." In 1985, he and Connecticut Senator Chris Dodd allegedly made a "waitress sandwich" at a DC restaurant while their dates were in the rest room.

Ted's second marriage, to Victoria Reggie, a DC area lawyer, in 1992 seemed to settle him down. He lost a bit of weight, seemed to cut back on his boozing, and in general seemed a bit more respectable. But the female curse that hangs over his head seems to have been deferred, not denied.

This time it wasn't exactly a woman that is getting him in trouble, but said woman's brother. Ray Reggie, 43, was a political operative in New Orleans who got himself in a bit of trouble a few years ago. He got caught not only ripping off three banks for the sum of 3.5 million dollars, he also pulled over teenage girls with a blue light on his car in the hopes of winning their favors.

But the FBI didn't toss him away immediately. They came to an agreement with Reggie that kept him out of jail for a bit while he continued his political work -- but now wearing a wire.

Reggie continued his political shenanigans over the last three years, but now the FBI has it all on tape. They have him meeting with both Bill and Hillary Clinton, for example, and several high-ranking members of her staff. In fact, one of her top fund raisers, David Rosen, is going on trial in Los Angeles next month for violating election laws at a 2000 fund-raiser for Hillary's Senate campaign, and evidence from Reggie is expected to play a key role.

Now that the story is finally breaking (Reggie's trial started in 2001, was pleaded out 2002, but the details were only made public recently), the speculation is flying fast and furious. Did Ray Reggie set up his brother-in-law? Did Ted know just how much trouble Ray was in, and did he "freeze him out" of anything sensitive? Did he aim Ray at the Clintons, hoping to save his wife's brother's hide (along with his own) at the expense of the family that has largely supplanted the Kennedys in Democratic power circles?

(Howie Carr, a Boston columnist, talk-show host, and general gadfly, is practically having on-air orgasms over this story. He runs a daily poll on his web site. The current poll (expiring Monday) is asking "In a battle, who would win, the Kennedy Crime Family or the Clinton Crime Family?" Right now, the Kennedys are winning, 64% to 36%, but there's still time to get your vote in...)

I strongly suspect that Ted will survive this scandal, as he has so many others. And I further suspect it won't taint his legacy among America's liberals.

Poor, poor Ted. He's spent his whole life living in the shadows of his father and far more capable brothers, and has suffered greatly because of it. If only one of those prior scandals had just been bad enough to kill his political career, he might have found his own niche in the world and lived a quiet, productive life. But the constant pressure to "be a Kennedy" (and, since 1968, the patriarch of the family) has kept him and his flaws front and center on the world stage.

I'd feel even more sorry for him, but for fifty years it seems everyone but him has paid the price for his failures, his shortcomings, his lapses.

And some with their lives.

J.


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Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Ted Kennedy's Female Troubles:

» ISOU linked with Return from the Jungle Edition

» JackLewis.net linked with Around the Blogosphere: Excellent posts

» Autonomous Source linked with Stuff & Things XVIII

» The LLama Butchers linked with Suprised?

» ChronWatch Writers' Blog linked with Joe Kennedy's fourth son, Teddy, named after the chaffeur

» Synthstuff - music, photography and more... linked with Jen -- make some popcorn, this one's gonna be interesting...

Comments (18)

Jay Tea,... I think you are... (Below threshold)
Zsa Zsa:

Jay Tea,... I think you are so funny! ... I love your french comments on WILLisms.com. You and Will need to get a comedy act going together! I am sure if you threw in some Ted Kennedy and some French it could be quite special. You both are really funny and I am not kidding!...Thanks

Outstanding Post, JT. This ... (Below threshold)
Tom:

Outstanding Post, JT. This is one of the Top 10 of yours. I learned more things about this sordid man than I ever wanted to know, but it was like watching a car wreck. You can not stop.

Check out the whole Martha"... (Below threshold)
Mark:

Check out the whole Martha"s Vineyard story at

ytedk.com Pretty unbelievable.

Kennedy or Clinton crime-fa... (Below threshold)
jumbo:

Kennedy or Clinton crime-family? What a great question! Wow! My first impression is the Kennedys: their power-bullying goes back 70 years, and they have lots of now-old money. But then I realized the Clintons are street brawlers when it comes to taking somebody out. The Kennedys would do it with lawyers, judges and phone calls to pols. But the Clinotns? Like the come-latelys they are, they feel inferior to but resentful of the "old powers" and they don't do things the old way. Hell, they hire detectives, blackmail, maybe even sanction hits. God, this truly is a Sopranos-type situation!

Jay my man, that was one ex... (Below threshold)
OregonMuse:

Jay my man, that was one excellent post! A more clearer, concise thumbnail history of that morbidly dysfunctional Kennedy clan could not have been written.

Encore!
Encore!

TaDa! You made my Saturday ... (Below threshold)
epador:

TaDa! You made my Saturday worthwhile. Thanks JT

One of the best I have ever... (Below threshold)
Dgstring:

One of the best I have ever read. Concise and on message with lots of info. Ted is a sad figure but deserves no sympathy.

The grand aspirations his f... (Below threshold)
DaveD:

The grand aspirations his father had for the family legacy were supposed to be fulfilled without little Teddy ever needing to have to step up to the plate. And so he watches his brothers die one by one and he alone is left to soldier on carrying the family name - maybe even haunted wondering if an untimely death is in the offing for him also. He is a pretty tragic figure.

"Teddy the K" (as I like to... (Below threshold)

"Teddy the K" (as I like to call him) is 72 years old now. I think the "untimely" part of any worrying he might once have done about his mortality, is long gone.

I'd feel even more sorry... (Below threshold)
shark:

I'd feel even more sorry for him, but for fifty years it seems everyone but him has paid the price for his failures, his shortcomings, his lapses

Especially the nation....

Eventually alcohol will due... (Below threshold)
John S.:

Eventually alcohol will due its duty. It's amazing his liver has held on as long as it has. But on the bright side, look how many Republicans Teddy has helped elect since 1990. He was the poster child of the 1994 takeover of Congress.

At 72, and with his lifetim... (Below threshold)
jumbo:

At 72, and with his lifetime of excess, Edward surely does not have that many years left on this earth. I wish him no ill will (other than he be out of politics and no longer in position to harm the country), but can you imagine the breathless idolatry from msm that is in store for us once he does suffer his demise? It will nake the historic wallow by NPR's Nina Tottenburg over the death of the left's favorite judge, Supreme Court Justice Harry Blckmun, seem like critical analysis. (Remember THAT one? I was embarrassed for her and the the whole left's unwarranted gushiness.)

The left, as contemptuous of average Americans as ever, still seethe with resentment over the nation's surprisigly widespread outpouring of genuine love and respect at the passing of Ronald Reagan. They will break their backs to manipulate a "beloved statesman of conscience" meme with Kennedy's passing, but fail. Their main chance to try to douse any memory of the moving ceremonies for Reagan will come when Jimmy "St. Bile" Carter goes to his reward, andf they will pull out all the stops trying to manufafture widespread displays of deep emotion. But it won't work: Reagan defeats Carter, even in death. Ouch.

you might want to read up o... (Below threshold)
rty:

you might want to read up on pt boat tactics in the south pacific before you make comments laying blame for the pt109 incident. the fault was in the tacticians. its the reason pt boat crews mostly died,and as far as i know, never accomplished anything in battle.

Jumbo is right about the em... (Below threshold)
OregonMuse:

Jumbo is right about the embarrassing gushiness that will ensue on Teddy's demise. The east coast MSM has always treated the Kennedys as gods-among-men and insists that everyone else do the same. It will be disgusting.

Actually, I do believe that... (Below threshold)
J, Persico:

Actually, I do believe that the "F" in Robert F. Kennedy's name was for Francis and not Fitzgerald.

The "F" in Robert F. Kenned... (Below threshold)
janet-marie:

The "F" in Robert F. Kennedy's name stood for Francis, not Fitzgerald.

I feel somewhat sorry for o... (Below threshold)
cate s.:

I feel somewhat sorry for old Pat. He never had much of a chance with a dad like Teddy who drove his mother to drink and despair. However, he's 38 and it's time he grew up. I hope that his rehab stint will help him but if he was Pat anywone else though he would have been in the clink.
Yes, when old Peanut Head and Senator ETOH meet their maker the MSM will go absolutely ballastic. They couldn't believe that President Reagan and the Pope garnered all the love and outpourings of grief that they did.
Oh well.

You forgot his father!!!! ... (Below threshold)
MsMHS:

You forgot his father!!!! Ted's daddy was brought home from the UK as Ambassador before WWII because he was siding with Hitler. Ted's daddy and granddaddy made their $$$ illegally by bootlegging. It's been 4 generations of corruption with the name Kennedy.




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