Friday, September 25, 2009

Teddy . . . Unsanitized

The incessant, insufferable bombast of falsities and hyperbole on the passing of Senator Ted Kennedy is over. The affront to the truth became so nauseating that, as a relief, one almost longed for the effusive Michael Jackson coverage... Read more...

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Hudson Valley Irish Festival

On Saturday, September 26th the inaugural Hudson Valley Irish Festival will be held at Peekskill Riverfront Green Park.

The park, conveniently located next to Route 9 and the Peekskill MetroNorth station on the Hudson Line, offers one of the most dramatic vistas on the Hudson River.

The event will raise funds to support Irish music, art and culture in the lower Hudson Valley. The Festival is a joint effort of AOH Division 18 Peekskill and the Peekskill St. Patrick's Committee.

Click on the below link for a press release and poster with more info. Please do not hesitate to call (914) 588-2710 for further details.

HVIF_Press&Media09.pdf, Hudson_valley_irish_fest_final.pdf

What's in the Kennedy Name?

Daniel J. Flynn
What’s in the Kennedy Name?
Less and less

If Congress passes President Obama’s trillion-dollar overhaul of the nation’s health-care industry, political entrepreneurs are sure to seek a cut of the enormous prize, and few have positioned themselves more skillfully than Ted Kennedy, Jr. “For years, Kennedy, Jr. has been boldly exploiting both his name and his intimate relationship with the most influential member of the U.S. Senate when it comes to health care and organized labor: his father, Senator Ted Kennedy,” Dick Morris and Eileen McGann write in their new book, Catastrophe. “And his father has been all too willing to help out in making the family connection into a lucrative business for his son.” Over the course of this decade, medical giants with business interests before the senator have showered money upon his son’s lobbying businesses: Bristol-Myers Squibb has paid $380,000; the Advanced Medical Technology Association, $220,000; Ascension Health, $280,000. Ask not what you can do for your name; ask what your name can do for you.

Continue reading, click below:

In Step with Ted

Daniel J. Flynn
In Step with Ted
As Kennedy tilted left, the Democratic Party generally followed.
4 September 2009

When Ted Kennedy won his first election in 1962, he joined a Massachusetts congressional delegation composed of Republican Leverett Saltonstall in the Senate and eight Democrats and six Republicans in the House. Though Democrats controlled both houses of the state legislature, Republican John Volpe served as governor. Massachusetts, then, was the picture of divided government. But today, a week after Kennedy’s death, Democrats hold every statewide constitutional office, both houses of the legislature have been in Democratic hands for half a century, and Democrats constitute the Bay State’s entire congressional delegation. In the last election, no Republican candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives reached 30 percent of the vote. Massachusetts has become the epitome of a one-party state.

Continue reading, click below:

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Re - Elect Pete King Fundraiser

Fundraiser for Congressman Pete King in Manhattan
October 5, 2009, beginning at 6:00 PM.

Georgette Mosbacher
has agreed to again open her beautiful home on behalf of the Congressman's re-election.

Click on below link for further information.

Individual admission for this event is $1,000 per person.

If you have an interest in being a Co-Sponsor, or Co-Host of the event, please contact the Finance Director for details.

Finance Director

Pete King for Congress Committee

1526 17th Street NW, #101Washington, DC 20036

202-302-7678 (cell)

202-986-5319 (fax)

Click below for more info:

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Teddy's Free Pass With Women


August 30, 2009
In all the obits published and specials aired this week, Chappaquiddick gets a few paragraphs, a few minutes, a tidy recapping of the events of July 19, 1969: The married Ted Kennedy, driving late at night with young campaign aide Mary Jo Kopechne, pitches off a bridge and into the water below. He escapes; she drowns. He does not report the accident for 10 hours. He pleads guilty and gets a suspended sentence, two months in jail.
In most of these narratives, Chappaquiddick is told as Ted's tragedy, the thing that kept him from ever becoming president. And in these narratives, he is chastened, goes on to make amends through a life of public service, advocating for the disadvantaged and the downtrodden -- and, especially, women. No one's perfect, right?
But how is it that so many women unabashedly revere Kennedy today? The particulars of Chappaquiddick are especially gory; his behavior after the accident approaches the amoral. Once he broke free and swam to the surface, Kennedy said that he dove back down seven or eight times to rescue Kopechne. Failing, he swam back to shore and checked back into his hotel, and a short time later lodged a noise complaint with the desk clerk. The people in the room next to his were partying and it was interfering with his sleep. Then he asked the desk clerk for the time.
According to the Aug. 4, 1969 edition of Newsweek, that clerk, Russell E. Peachey, told Kennedy it was 2:25 a.m., then asked, "Is there anything else I can do for you?"
"No, thank you," Kennedy replied.
In 1990, GQ magazine ran a devastating profile of Kennedy. Two 16-year-old girls near the Capitol startled by a limo rolling up, the door opening, Ted sitting in the back with a bottle of wine, asking one, then the other, to join. A former aide who acted as Ted's "pimp." His penchant for dating women so young that one did not know he was the subject of many books. Kennedy, at a swank DC restaurant with his drinking buddy Chris Dodd, throwing a petite waitress on his dinner table with such force that glass and flatware shatters and goes flying. Then Ted throws her on to Dodd's lap and grinds against her. He is interrupted by other waitstaff. He is later caught in the same restaurant, in a semi-private area, having sex on the floor with a lobbyist.
In 1991, Kennedy's nephew William Kennedy Smith is charged with rape. Kennedy Smith had been out drinking with Ted and Ted's son Patrick at Au Bar in Palm Beach. Kennedy Smith is eventually acquitted, and it's never proved that Ted had any knowledge of what happened on the Kennedy grounds that night. He remarried, in 1992, and very publicly domesticated himself.
But the tawdriness -- the ostensible elder statesmen getting s - - t-faced and picking up women with his son and his nephew; the acquittal won, in part, by shredding the accuser on the stand and in the press; privilege winning out, always -- is in such stark contrast to Kennedy's politics that you have to wonder: Is this really what Kennedy thought of women?
Most feminists don't think Ted Kennedy was a misogynist. Upon news of his death, NOW, Emily's List and Planned Parenthood all released emotional, laudatory statements. It's true that Kennedy's legislative record deserves such a response. And he was quiet enough in the last 15 years of his life that it's not hard to minimize his past behavior if you want to.
Or if you're unaware -- Google reported that "Chappaquiddick" and "Mary Jo Kopechne" were the top searches Wednesday and Thursday.
"I didn't know about Chappaquiddick and the rape case until yesterday," says Miriam Perez, a 25-year-old editor at She admires Kennedy's accomplishments, but is perplexed. "Like every person, he's human and there are lots of flaws involved," she says. "But a big feminist tenet is: The personal is political. So I don't feel it's fair to fully ignore it in this case."
Perhaps, along with the hagiographic Kennedy myth, we can bury this outdated tradition of excusing the reprehensible treatment of women by the same male legislators who otherwise advocate for our rights politically. It's degrading. It's like making excuses for the husband who beats you up but pays the bills on time. It may be 2009, but the bulk of the talking heads who covered this funeral were older white males, and among the few women -- eminent historian Doris Kearns Goodwin among them -- it's still shocking to hear them, nearly to a one, reduce Kennedy's bad behavior to rakish abandon or poor judgement. Why shouldn't we hold our elected male officials -- especially those who so assiduously court the female vote -- to a standard of personal decency in their treatment of women? Why do we still assume that this is an either/or proposition?
"It's a great question," says Gloria Feldt, former president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Feldt worked with Kennedy and is an admirer, still. "He worked with women's groups in a very respectful way, in a way that few other senators do," she says. "But I don't know that you can reconcile it -- when it's in a group's best interest that said person stays in that chair, how do you weigh that moral equation? I wish it were simpler than that.

Teddy - A Life of Privilege

August 27, 2009

WHILE offering condolences to the Kennedy family at this sad moment, it's important to note that Ted Kennedy's life was not as simple or heroic as is now being portrayed.
On the cable channels yesterday, his fellow Senate graybeards were lamenting the passing of what was invariably described as Kennedy's "collegial" Senate, where voices were seldom raised and partisan bickering ended when the gavel came down to end the session.
All of which would have come as a surprise to Robert Bork, the Supreme Court nominee of whom the collegial Ted said in 1986:
"Robert Bork's America is a land in which women would be forced into back-alley abortions, blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters . . ."
So much for collegiality.
Of course, Kennedy is now endlessly lauded for his support of "women's rights," i.e., abortion. But into the 1970s, before the Roman Catholic Church's influence began to wane, he was a traditional, pro-life New England Democrat.
Here was his take on abortion in 1971: "Wanted or unwanted, I believe that human life, even at its earliest stages, has certain rights which must be recognized -- the right to be born, the right to love, the right to grow old."
There's a story, perhaps apocryphal, that in his first Senate campaign in 1962, Kennedy was shaking hands at a factory gate during a shift change. A haggard worker began berating him about how he'd never worked a day in his life.
As the legend had it, at that point another salt-of-the-earth blue-collar type leaned in and told Kennedy, "Never worked a day in your life, kid? You ain't missed a thing."
But in fact he had. Yesterday, the tributes kept mentioning his commitment to the "working class." He fought for, as President Obama said (on Martha's Vineyard, of all places), "an America that is more equal and more just."
But more equal and more just for some people than for others. When it came to the white-ethnic working class from which his father came, Kennedy just plain didn't get it. Whether it was court-ordered busing in Boston in the '70s, or the affirmative-action policies that stymied the careers of so many of his family's traditional voters, Kennedy never grasped the depth of the blue-collar frustration as he veered left.
What infuriated them even more was that so many of them had grown up in homes where on one side of the mantel was a faded photo of the martyred JFK, and on the other, the pope, with a dried-up Palm Sunday frond between them.
Chappaquiddick, of course, never went away. But sometimes, Kennedy could seem oblivious even to that ultimate blemish on his career. In 1974, when President Ford pardoned Richard Nixon for his Watergate crimes, Kennedy issued this thundering statement:
"Do we operate under a system of equal justice under law? Or is there one system for the average citizen, and another for the high and mighty?"
On issue after issue, he was wrong -- the nuclear freeze, the Reagan tax cuts, the Immigration Reform Act of 1965, which he assured his Senate colleagues would not lead to a "flood" of immigrants into America's cities.
With a TelePrompTer, he could be articulate, but when he wasn't using his glasses to read a prepared statement, he was often an oratorical mess. In 2005, at the National Press Club, he referred to the current president as "Osama bin La -- uh, Osama, Obama, uh, Obama."
Yet he was always protected by most media, who shared his views on just about everything. In 1962, at the behest of President Kennedy, the Boston Globe played the story of Ted's expulsion from Harvard below the fold on the front page. To the end, the Globe did its best to shield him.
Last week, the struggling New York Times-owned broadsheet broke the story of his deathbed attempt to change the Massachusetts law on Senate succession, without mentioning that he had lobbied in 2004 to enact the law he was now denouncing as undemocratic. Only then, he was for stripping the governor of his right to fill a Senate vacancy, because the governor was a Republican.
The Globe reported that Kennedy was much concerned that the people of Massachusetts would have no representation in the Senate for five months until the special election. The fact that he'd missed 97 percent of the Senate roll-call votes in 2009 was not noted until the next day -- in a different newspaper.
The hagiography will continue through the weekend. We all agree that Ted Kennedy should rest in peace. But let's not forget that there was more -- much more -- to his "legacy" than is being reported on MSNBC.

Howie Carr is a columnist for The Boston Herald.

The Kennedy Myth

August 29, 2009

If the Kennedy Era in American politics is over, instead of just taking a breather (Joseph P. Kennedy II has been mentioned as a possible candidate for his Uncle Ted's Senate seat), what did it mean?
Character failings are not irrelevant to how well one serves the public; it was because of Chappaquiddick that Ted Kennedy was defeated by Robert Byrd as Democratic party whip in the Senate in 1971. But defenders are so quick to dismiss these issues, so let's stick to policy instead, and see if the liberal argument that Kennedy's political work made up for his personal faults is true.
Consider a moment that showed us the essence of Ted Kennedy: Sept. 9, 1974. On that day, he came down from Olympus to visit Boston. A federal judge had thrown the city into chaos by imposing a draconian busing plan to integrate the city's schools. Kids were uprooted from their neighborhoods and sent to ones where they weren't welcome.
"Busing struck most ordinary people as both unfair and hypocritical," wrote The Economist's John Micklethwait and Adrian Woolridge in their book "The Right Nation." "Unfair because children were forced against their will to achieve 'racial balance,' hypocritical because the 'liberal elites' [including Kennedy] that supported the policy usually sent their own children to private or suburban schools." The liberal historian Alan Brinkley wrote that "black participants in this drama were angry too . . . their children were no more eager to attend school in South Boston or Charlestown than the South Boston kids were eager to attend school in Roxbury. Why did they have to suffer because of a policy formulated in the chambers of federal judges?"
Boston was boiling, and it was Ted Kennedy who had turned up the heat. It was Kennedyism writ large (the plan was the sort of hamfisted -- and, naturally, doomed -- federal interference in local problems that Kennedy had made his life's work) and small: The judge in question, Arthur Garrity, who effectively took over Boston schools for 11 years, was a Kennedy family retainer who had worked on John Kennedy's Senate and presidential campaigns.
"Teddy Kennedy more or less appointed him," former Boston mayor Ray Flynn, who was then a representative from South Boston in the Massachusetts House, said in the Boston Globe this week. "Teddy Kennedy could have put the word in his ear to, you know, open this process up so people have an import -- particularly parents -- and I think that was the failing of Boston during that period in time." Ted Kennedy's biographer, Adam Clymer of The New York Times, agreed that Garrity "had tin ears about the practicalities."
He wasn't the only one. Teddy's tin ear on what was happening in his own back yard was reminiscent of John Kennedy's casual remark that he hadn't learned about the Great Depression until he read about it at Harvard -- even though he was born in 1917. Ted Kennedy had remained notably quiet on the issue of busing, hoping the whole thing would go away and that no one would notice his fingerprints on it. But as the school year opened, and Boston Globe columnist Mike Barnicle implored him, "you have the one voice that can help keep this city calm," he dropped in to visit some schools. He agreed to speak to a vehemently anti-busing group that was holding a rally.
The protesters were not just Kennedy's constituency; they were the dead center of it, working-class Irish Catholics who "helped build the Kennedy dynasty . . . Many continued to hang Jack's picture in their living rooms," wrote Peter Canellos in his bio, "Last Lion: The Fall and Rise of Ted Kennedy." The crowd jeered Kennedy for about five minutes, then many turned their backs and began singing, "God Bless America." That was too much for Ted. Without speaking, he walked away.
His decision to flee infuriated the crowd further. He was pelted with tomatoes as "he took refuge in the federal building named after his brother," Micklethwait and Woolridge dryly note.
The symbolism was perfect. Here was a man who said he spoke for the people proving himself literally unable to speak to the people. Here was a man who argued that government was the citizens' shelter, using a government building as a fortress against the hoi polloi. That he literally took cover under his brother's name was the topper.
Almost. The topper was this: Stung by his reception in Boston, Kennedy took off for his real constituents -- wealthy liberal elites. That Saturday night he was in San Francisco, teasing the audience about the rumor that he was going to run for president in 1976. He joked that his presence there had nothing to do with California's basket of electoral votes. Everyone laughed.
Boston wasn't laughing, though. There were brawls in both black and white schools. And the busing experiment was an utter disaster. Parents simply moved to the suburbs or put their kids in private schools. After 11 years, the proportion of whites in Boston schools dropped from 65% to 28%. When Arthur Garrity died, Kennedy praised him as a consummate jurist.
In the "Dream Shall Never Die" speech six years later, Kennedy presented himself as the defender of those who had ridiculed him in Boston. "Our cause has been, since the days of Thomas Jefferson, the cause of the common man and the common woman ... Our commitment has been, since the days of Andrew Jackson, to all those he called 'the humble members of society -- the farmers, mechanics and laborers.' On this foundation we have defined our values, refined our policies and refreshed our faith."
This was supposed to be a concession speech, the end of his failed 1980 presidential run. But it's all about Ted. Kennedy barely mentions his party's incumbent, Jimmy Carter, referring to him only once in passing.
Though the speech is characterized by sweeping language and few specifics, Kennedyism here seems to boil down to high taxes, especially for the rich and corporations; civil rights; universal health insurance and cost controls for doctors and hospitals and -- more vaguely -- sacrifices that are "shared fairly;" a nonspecific secular "faith," seemingly in the ability of government to help people. Perhaps the strongest message is an exhortation that the people be "ready to give back to our country for all it has given us."
Since Kennedy simply did not mention the military or defense or even foreign policy (bear in mind that the hostages were still being held in Iran, the Soviets had invaded Afghanistan and Europe was festooned with Soviet nuclear missiles), all of these must be considered low priorities of Ted Kennedyism, if they were priorities at all. Two years later he would introduce a "nuclear freeze" bill that even Jimmy Carter would have opposed because it would have frozen in place the massive Soviet advantage in weaponry -- even if the Soviets didn't cheat by continuing to add to their stockpiles.
The speech is a handy summary of liberalism. But in many cases it stands for the opposite of what another liberal icon, John Kennedy, stood for, and in other cases it is self-contradictory, foolhardy or sharply rebuked by history. Take full employment, a stated policy of Ted Kennedyism. He called for "jobs for all who are out of work," explaining that employment was a fundamental right. His failure to explain how this was to occur called to mind "Camelot" -- not the administration, the song, from the Broadway show of the same name, in which King Arthur boasts (as his kingdom is about to begin its collapse), "A law was made a distant moon ago here/July and August cannot be too hot/And there's a legal limit to the snow here/In Camelot."
Other lessons of Camelot -- the administration, not the song -- were lost on Ted Kennedy. Ted Kennedy never met a tax cut he didn't try to block, nor a tax hike that he didn't love. In the 1980 speech, with the country aching for tax relief, he instead denounced the Republican plan to decrease tax rates across the board and suggested raising the tax burden of corporations and wealthy individuals by closing tax loopholes and ending the deductibility of "business lunches that are nothing more than food stamps for the rich."
Yet JFK was a tax cutter. Much to Ted's chagrin, Ronald Reagan loved to remind Americans of JFK's remark that "a rising tide lifts all boats." JFK inherited a tax structure in which the top rate was an astonishing 91%. He proposed an across-the-board cut, starting by lowering that top range to 65%, and a reduction in corporate taxes. Sen. Al Gore (father of the 1990s vice president) cried that JFK's program was a giveaway to the rich that would starve government of the ability to pay for public works projects -- the same arguments Ted Kennedy would later make.
A favorite ploy of liberals is, knowing that spending will never be cut, to claim they'd support tax cuts if only spending were reduced first, so as to avoid deficits. JFK took the opposite line in 1962, saying that high taxation "siphons out of the private economy too large a share of personal and business purchasing power."
It is true that the Kennedys can claim much credit for Medicare, originally proposed by JFK (it wasn't passed till after his death) and staunchly supported by Ted Kennedy thereafter. Few Americans can imagine a country without it. But it's just as hard to imagine a country with a top tax rate of 91%. Ted Kennedy spent his career trying to reverse the rising tide unleashed by his brother.
One expenditure JFK loved was defense, which he ramped up to nearly 50% of the federal budget. Ted Kennedy would later say his proudest vote was against the Iraq War in 2002. Yet the Kennedys were wrong both on the Vietnam War, American involvement in which JFK started, and Desert Storm, which Ted voted against despite the massive UN-backed multinational coalition assembled by George H.W. Bush. And even if the Iraq War was mismanaged, Ted Kennedy's vote to essentially declare the war lost and remove all troops by March of 2007, before the surge took effect, would not have pleased his brother.
Might JFK, who seemed eager to start a war with somebody from the moment he took office and vowed "that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty . . . To those peoples in the huts and villages across the globe struggling to break the bonds of mass misery, we pledge our best efforts to help them help themselves, for whatever period is required -- not because the Communists may be doing it, not because we seek their votes, but because it is right." Cue napalm and The Doors.
Ted Kennedy would call Vietnam "a monstrous outrage" in 1968. He got that one right.
Would John Kennedy have withdrawn from Vietnam? We'll never know. On his final flight to Texas, he quietly ordered 1,000 troops to be sent home. But even JFK's friend and aide Arthur Schlesinger wrote in "The Cycles of American History," "Though he privately thought the United States 'overcommitted' in Southeast Asia, he permitted the commitment to grow. It was the fatal error of his presidency."
JFK had discussed withdrawing "after I'm re-elected," but feared that "we would have another Joe McCarthy scare on our hands" if he tried to do so any earlier. If he was there purely to win votes, the Vietnam misadventure was not just stupid, it was wrong. And who is to say that after his re-election, he would not have put off withdrawal till after the midterm elections, or until after RFK was comfortably installed as his successor in the White House? Stopping something you think is to your political advantage is like dieting. It's never a good day to start.
If Ted Kennedy was, in President Obama's words, the "greatest senator of our time," then John Kennedy cannot have been a great or even a good president. Can you imagine Ted saying, as President Kennedy once did, "Life is unfair"? JFK was speaking in 1962, about reservists whom (shades of George W. Bush) he had forced to stay on active duty after their terms would normally have ended.
Can you imagine Ted Kennedy voting for, much less appointing, as conservative a Supreme Court justice as Byron White, who opposed the liberal rulings in both the Miranda case and in Roe v. Wade? John Kennedyism was a moderate liberalism meant to appeal nationwide; Ted Kennedyism was a regional brand tailored to the Northeast and on the West Coast. Liberals might want to keep that in mind as they mull whether to name the pending health care legislation after someone who, when the eulogies end, will be remembered as a polarizing figure.
The most curious section of the "Dream Shall Never Die" speech is Ted Kennedy's defense of deregulation in the airline and trucking industry. "We restored competition to the marketplace," Kennedy said, and he was right. But if deregulation was a good idea in the airline and trucking industry, why wasn't it a valid principle in general? Why didn't he support the many efforts in Congress to repeal, for instance, the New Deal's absurd Davis-Bacon Act, which mandated superminimum wages, dictated by unions, that drove up the price of public works projects and thus cost all taxpayers? It was a case of a special interest group with deep pockets and political connections against everyone else. Kennedy took his usual side.
Ted Kennedy is rightly credited with mastery of Senate procedure, but it would be astonishing if a man who had the third-longest tenure ever couldn't figure out how the place worked. And why did he enjoy 46 years in the Senate? Because despite being barely out of law school, he was elected at the minimum age, 30, to take over his brother's seat, which the Kennedy family had velvet-roped off for him like a VIP lounge by designating a seat-warmer to take it for two years until Ted was eligible. When running for the Senate in 1959, John F. Kennedy said a prescient and startling thing: "Just as I went into politics because Joe died, if anything happened to me tomorrow, Bobby would run for my seat in the Senate. And if Bobby died, our young brother, Ted, would take over for him."
In 46-plus years, Ted Kennedy did sponsor a lot of popular legislation, such as the Meals on Wheels program. He did important work to pass COBRA, which was a significant step toward portability of insurance, a problem that is still not fully solved.
And the Kennedys were responsible for notable advances in civil rights. Robert Kennedy was steadfast in defending James Meredith in his quest to become the first black student at Ole Miss. In 1965, Ted Kennedy would lead a fight to end the poll tax that was used to keep blacks from voting in the South removed. He failed, but the Supreme Court ended the poll tax the following year. During the 1963 Martin Luther King Jr.-led march on Birmingham, JFK declared, "a great change is at hand . . . our task, our obligation, is to make that revolution, that change, peaceful and constructive for all." He paid with his approval rating, which dropped from 76% at the outset of 1963 to 59% shortly before his death in November.
But it was not the Kennedys who led the movement. It was King, the Freedom Riders and others on the ground in the South. The Kennedys got caught up in the whirlwind. Robert Kennedy, then attorney general, took the lead because John Kennedy wanted to distance himself from any political fallout (at which point he must have questioned the wisdom of appointing his own brother the head of national law enforcement).
JFK biographer Robert Dallek concluded in "An Unfinished Life" that, unlike Hubert Humphrey, whom Kennedy defeated in the 1960 Democratic primary, "Jack Kennedy's response to the great civil rights debates of 1957-1960 was largely motivated by self-serving political considerations." Of the Freedom Riders, a group that was attacked for trying to integrate bus lines in the south, JFK told his friend Harris Wofford, "Can't you get your goddamned friends off those buses? Tell them to call it off!"
Even when Kennedyism is right, it's wrong. The obituaries this week were rightly full of praise for Ted's role in the Voting Rights Act of 1965. But that was an emergency measure that was due to expire in five years. The South was on fire and the federal government had to do something to put it out.
But Ted Kennedy and his followers kept going back to blast the scene with a fire extinguisher long after the ashes had turned cold, and doing the same with some places that never burned in the first place. Ted was instrumental in extending it, and extending it again -- all the way to 2031. He did this not because he seriously believed Jim Crow was still alive, but to remind people of past glories, to shore up his image as a fighter for the downtrodden, and to keep alive the opportunity to Bork any opponent as racist.
Now we're stuck with the Voting Rights Act, seemingly forever -- a permanent, bizarre rule that all jurisdictions in nine states and some in seven others -- including New Hampshire and California -- can't be trusted to so much as move a polling place from one side of the street to the other without Capitol Hill's approval. What other federal laws apply to only a few handpicked states? (The Supreme Court this year partly upheld and partly restricted the Act, hinting that it might revisit the matter later.) In 1981 Kennedy kept saying, "We shall overcome" as he led that year's battle to renew the act, making it clear that any opposition would be painted as racist. It worked.
Perhaps the purest aspect of Kennedyism, the one that never was watered down, was the centerpiece of both the 1980 speech and the 1960 inaugural address -- that of urging individual sacrifice, by everyone, at all times, for the common good.
This may be the least controversial aspect of Kennedyism -- Republicans and conservatives offer similar thoughts all the time. But it's the most worrisome. "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country?" "In a less heady ambiance, people might have noticed that the famous formulation is totalitarian," wrote Garry Wills in "Nixon Agonistes." It subjects "the citizen to his government, not the government to man."
Those who were actually listening to this "vapor" of "self-hypnosis," as Wills called it, might well have concluded that "songs about what you can do for your country end up meaning 'what your country can do to you.'"