Damn! I missed another significant anniversary, an anniversary that should not have been missed.
With all the hulabaloo over the 41st anniversary of America’s moon landing and Obama’s “stupidly” comment coming home to roost in the White House attic, I forgot about the drowning death of a beautiful, young girl, Mary Jo Kopechne on the night of July 18th, 1969.
Senator Teddy Kennedy in the intervening years after her death rose to the status of revered senior statesman, despite the established facts that he left Mary Jo to drown in the murky waters off Chappaquiddick Island.
He allegedly made a wrong turn, his ’67 Oldsmobile ended up upside down in a canal, and he either swam home in the darkness or went back to the party to seek help.
That last detail is one of many that is disputable. In any event, he didn’t report the accident until the next morning, apparently not feeling it was of sufficient import to report sooner. He had to get his story straight with his aides who would sooner detach a testicle than see a Kennedy get busted.
Ted probably swam away from the scene to save his career. Whether he ever looked back and saw the desparate Mary Jo clawing at the windows of the sinking car is a question that only Ted can ever answer.
He need not have feared his future or for any retribution. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts effectively whitewashed the “incident,” valuing a Kennedy and his influence far more than it did the life of a 28 year old, very expendable Kennedy campaign worker.
His constituents accepted his staged televised show in which he showed no guilt but rather asked voters if he should resign. They have re-elected him time and again as if his joyride with Mary Jo had never happened.
Some things are more important in the most liberal state in the nation, things such as influence in Washington and a Kennedy in the U.S. Senate, than honor, moral rectitude, and murder.
After all, would Boston have gotten billions of federal dollars to dig its Big Dig without Uncle Teddy, even though the boondoggle was racked with scandals and thousands of leaks?
Whether Mary Jo had had a few too many adult beverages at the party on Martha’s Vineyard is irrelevant. Whether Teddy had had a snootful which, based on his history and inclinations, is probable and very relevant as is his insistence on driving Mary Jo to the mainland.
Again, based on his and the Kennedy family’s record and the fabled inability of Kennedy men to keep their pants zipped, the senator’s drunken intent and designs on the young lady can be surmised but will never be determined in a court of law.
He definitely wasn’t driving while texting but what else he was up to in the darkness of his car that night was known only to the senator and to Ms. Kopechne. He now rests comfortably at the family compound near the scene of his crime. His passenger rests in her parish cemetary on Larksville Mountain, Pennsylvania.
Perhaps the tired Ms. Kopechne, an only child, after a long night of partying with her beloved Democrats, rebuffed Ted’s advances. Maybe her rebuff, combined with his inebriation, so irked him that he lost control of the vehicle and then chose to teach her a lesson by letting her slowly drown.
Lots of questions and maybes still surround the case, by design.
The Bay State takes care of its own, especially if one of its own has the Kennedy name. An inquest determined he was negligent but no indictments were ever handed down. Ted Kennedy’s only punishment was a suspended driver’s license.
Senator Theodore F. Kennedy, now 77, is currently stuggling against a brain cancer that seems terminal. For that, I extend to him my deepest sympathies and heartfelt wishes for a miraculous recovery.
Mary Jo Kopechne, who would be 69 now, had she survived, is still very much dead and long buried.
An astounding conclusion to Ted’s life would be a near-deathbed confession of perfidy in the murder of Mary Jo. It would greatly detract from his legacy but it would greatly enhance his immortal soul and his chances to avoid Hell.
Said confession is also about as likely as was Papa Joe Kennedy’s admission of bedding Gloria Swanson and his brothers’ admissions that they killed Marilyn Monroe.
Senator Ted Kennedy will no doubt go to his grave still denying his guilt rather than admitting that he was a murderer. The good people of Massachusetts will no doubt roundly approve of his final decision.
The senator is scheduled to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom next month: http://bit.ly/2zrHvN. A murder confession at this point could screw up those plans.
And maybe not.