What Was the Ted Kennedy Legacy?

Ted Kennedy died of brain cancer yesterday. He was in the Senate for 47 years. As a Kennedy in Massachusetts, he was never seriously challenged for the position. Simply being a Kennedy assured him of a Senate job for life.

Although nominally a Catholic, it was obvious he never took his church’s teachings to heart. Staunchly pro-abortion all his life, he was in the forefront of almost every liberal cause. His endorsement of Obama over Hillary Clinton in the 2008 Democratic primaries might have been the key to Obama’s nomination. The current healthcare bill has long been one of Kennedy’s dreams. There is now talk of naming it after him in hopes of getting it through Congress that way rather than on its supposed merits.

The Kennedy Brothers

The Kennedy Brothers

He was part of a dynasty. His father, Joe Kennedy, made his fortune bootlegging during Prohibition. He was also a politician who groomed one of his sons, John, to be president. When that happened in 1960, he named his brother Robert as attorney general. Shortly after, Ted was first elected to the Senate to take brother John’s place.

Kennedy admirers painted a portrait of a new Camelot, as if the Kennedys were America’s royal family. The shocking assassinations of his two brothers left Ted as the heir-apparent. Kennedy camp followers looked forward to his upcoming presidency. It never happened.

On July 18, 1969, he left a party with a woman, Mary Jo Kopechne, and drove off a bridge into a pond. He got out of the car and immediately swam to find his lawyer. Mary Jo was left in the car to die.

He never accepted real responsibility for this action. He never had to spend one day in jail for his recklessness and callous attitude toward the woman who died in his vehicle. And for some reason, the voters in Massachusetts continued to reward him with one of the highest political trusts in the land.

Over the next few days, if you watch the news, you’re going to hear a lot of wonderful comments concerning Ted Kennedy’s legacy. How often will the commentators wax eloquent on the Kennedy character without mentioning this incident? Watch and learn.

There is this so-called rule that one does not speak ill of those who have recently died. While I sympathize with Kennedy’s family at this time, I will not shy away from speaking the truth about the character of the man. Honesty requires it. Integrity demands it. One’s character doesn’t miraculously change at death.

God’s standards of judgment are different than man’s. What you will hear and see on TV today will be man’s standards, but God’s are eternal. They never change. Unless Ted Kennedy, in his last hours, came to grips with God’s standards, there is little positive that can be said about his legacy.