James Leroy Wilson's blog

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Public Service, and the Mystery of Ted Kennedy

Friday night I was at an airport gate where there was a large screen showing Ted Kennedy's memorial service. Looking around as the gate was filling up before the flight, I noticed one thing: nobody was watching. Instead, they do what people in waiting areas usually do: they were reading, they were listening to music or playing games on portable devices, or they were staring blankly into space.

I wasn't watching either; I was reading. But I couldn't help but see and overhear some of it. And it made me think about something. Entertainment award shows like the Oscars and Emmys are often mocked - the Emmys sometimes mock themselves - for being pretentious and self-congratulatory. But those are harmless, entertaining shows. When a prominent politician dies, even opponents "from across the aisle" come to say kind words. They have to; it's part of their job to remind the rest of us that they are superior because they dedicate their lives to Public Service.

Thousands of people died the same day as did Ted Kennedy. There may have been some really bad apples among them. None of them were born already rich, and then made a career of taking from some to buy the votes of others. Few rose solely on account of their siblings's fame and accomplishments. Relatively few of them are responsible for incidents as bad as Chappaquiddick.

Who knows? Some of them may have been born into poverty, worked themselves into good incomes, and donated much of their wealth and spare time to charity and community improvement, leaving generous donations to libraries, charities, and their alma mater in their will. But they didn't "dedicate" their lives to Public Service. Of course, they couldn't afford to; they had to make a living first, something Teddy never had to do.

That said, I'm not here to dance on Ted Kennedy's grave. It just made me realize that no matter how insulated and self-absorbed celebrities may be, they don't hold a candle to national politicians and their false conception of Public Service, which is to strengthen the State at the expense of the individual. When one of them dies, that's a reason for them to pat themselves on the back for what great human beings they are.

The one thing I've always wondered about Teddy, however, was his position on the deaths of his brothers John and Robert. Were they killed by lone madmen, or were one or both of them brought down by a conspiracy.

No one in the world would have had a greater interest in these deaths than Teddy. And any one who wants to be President can't help but wonder about them too. Kennedy passed on the Presidency in 1968 as a convention-draft candidate, then again in 1972 and '76. 1972 would have been difficult with Chappaquiddick still fresh in people's minds, but there was no Democrat more prominent in '76. Teddy did not run.

Teddy did run for President once, in 1980 against a fellow Democrat, the incumbent Jimmy Carter. Weakening Carter's position in his own party - the fact that he would have to campaign for the nomination at all - hurt Carter's chances against Reagan. Why did Kennedy run the one time his chances were dimmest, and when a run would only damage his party?

Even if Teddy was not a conspiracy theorist, he must have believed some lone madman would surely make an attempt on his life, if no other reason than to win fame as the guy who got the last Presidential-candidate Kennedy brother.

That is, unless he did not believe his brothers were killed by lone madmen. Perhaps he believed that no one can possibility have the opportunity to shoot a President or candidate unless the powers-that-be permit it.

Surely he couldn't have complete faith in the Secret Service, and if he did he'd have been a fool. Ford had escaped two attempts, and in 1979 two men with the literally unbelievable names "Raymond Lee Harvey" and "Osvaldo Ortiz" were allegedly part of a plot against Carter. If Teddy did believe he would have been safe, surely the attempt on Reagan (by, coincidentally, the son of friends of the Bush family) would have put that to rest. If a "madman" could get Reagan, one could surely get Teddy. If Teddy believed the "lone madman" theory of his brothers's deaths, he must be glad he never became President. An attempt most surely would have been made.

On the other hand, if there was a conspiracy against Teddy's brothers, would he not be a target as well? Or was he essentially given "permission" to run by the powers-that-be, who knew he didn't stand a chance? Perhaps they discouraged him to run in '68, '72, and '76 but then forced him into it in 1980. Maybe "they" (whoever "they" are) even falsely promised him the Presidency as an enticement.

Perhaps Teddy lived under a constant extortion threat since 1968 - reveal what you know and you (or a loved one) will die - and carried the secrets to his grave. After all, unlike like John's and Robert's, none of Teddy's kids were killed prematurely.

This is all conspiracy speculation, of course, and I'm not taking it seriously. But a quick search led me to chapter 7 of Richard Sprague's The Taking of America 1,2,3. The argument is that Teddy was framed at Chappaquiddick - that he was knocked out and dumped in his hotel room and that Mary Jo was drugged and sent off the bridge. Teddy was then informed the next morning and ordered to make up a story that he was the driver. This accounts for his story not being all that believable.

Ever since then, Kennedy may have been, however unwillingly, more or less in the control of other people, of "them." It would drive anyone to drink.

I'm not saying I believe this theory. I just find it strange that Teddy ever put his life in jeopardy to run for President. I find it more plausible that he only ran because he believed his safety was guaranteed.

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