Let me preface this post with the clear statement that I don’t believe in granting sainthood to someone just because s/he dies. We are what we are and what we’ve done is done. Let’s be honest about it even when we’re gone.
I was born just after John F. Kennedy was shot, so I grew up hearing how amazing the family was. It’s something I never understood. And hearing the flaming adulation over Ted Kennedy that’s running rampant this week since his death is another baffling moment.
The Kennedy’s got their money from bootlegging. That’s honorable. I think they are canonized more for dying untimely deaths than anything else like Marilyn Monroe (just one of JFK’s many mistresses, that’s honorable) and James Dean.
I don’t see the political brilliance in any of them. (Bay of Pigs, Cuban Missile Crisis, anyone?) I see those whose “caring for the underprivileged” generally consisted of taking money from working class folks to give to non-working folks in the form of bloating the power in government (i.e. bloating their own power). There were exceptions, but certainly not on par with their ability to contribute.
Instead, I see womanizing, serial adultery (except Bobby), ill-gotten wealth, dealings with shady characters, excessive use of pills (John) and alcohol (Ted) to manage, paying their way out of responsibility (drowning, the rape trial, etc.), and one train wreck after another.
Instead, I see a guy who had a pregnant wife at home, was out partying with women other than the pregnant wife, who runs off with one in a drunken stupor, and takes a dive in a river. Then he runs home to his “honorable” family, who sobers him up, concocts a story, and “reports” the accident 10 hours later approximately 9.8 hours after Mary Jo Kopechne drowned. And who gets a suspended sentence because his family has power and money.
I don’t wish the Kennedy family ill will. But neither do I think these are the people who should be forming the course for our country. They aren’t leaders and they aren’t heroes.