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A Clymer’s Paean To ‘Teddy’s Idealism’

From the man who embodies the term ‘Clymer,’ via the Daily Beast:

Teddy’s Idealism

by Adam Clymer

Though Ted Kennedy will mostly be remembered for his work on domestic issues, his contributions to human rights around the globe are unmatched.

Ted Kennedy’s greatest contributions—affecting hundreds of millions of Americans—were on domestic issues such as health, education, labor, and civil rights. But with the exception of his opposition to the war in Iraq, he played a largely overlooked but important role in international affairs, fighting for refugees from Vietnam to Ethiopia to Iraq and crusading against political oppression in nations such as Pakistan, Chile, Northern Ireland, and South Africa.

His first venture came in 1965 when he used an obscure chairmanship, a Judiciary Subcommittee on Refugees and Escapees, to get involved in Vietnam issues. He started out as a Johnson administration cheerleader, saying the Vietcong was using phony refugees to infiltrate government areas. But the hearings he conducted soon made it clear that Washington did not know and Saigon did not care about the scope of the problem—a case he made in Look magazine after a November 1965 visit to Vietnam.

Kennedy’s best-known position on foreign affairs was his opposition—early and often—to the war in Iraq.

Over the next couple of years, he successfully pressed the administration to do more for the medical care of civilian victims of the war, especially of American artillery and bombing. He went back in 1968 thoroughly prepared, having sent four aides in advance to look at the problems and then show them to him. After that trip he called Saigon’s officials corrupt “colonialists in their own nation,” and said the United States should pull out if South Vietnam’s government did not shape up…

In the ’70s and ’80s, Kennedy made four unusual visits to the Soviet Union, going not as a committee chairman or as part of a delegation (unless you counted the relatives who sometimes went along), but as an individual senator whose brother had been president. All four trips had led to the release of families and individuals, mostly Jewish refuseniks including Natan Sharansky. The 1974 trip also led to an exit visa for the renowned cellist, Mstislav Rostropovich, to leave the USSR.

The most substantive element of his talks with Brezhnev in 1974 and 1978 and then with Mikhail Gorbachev in 1986 and 1990 was in explaining American presidents—leaders with whom he had sharp differences—to the Kremlin.

He insisted to Brezhnev that Carter was committed to nuclear disarmament despite some confusing speeches on the issue. He told Gorbachev that while he personally thought it was a bad idea, Reagan deeply believed in space-based missile, defense or “Star Wars.” Later he told Gorbachev that President George H.W. Bush was not trying to score political points when he warned the Soviet leader not to use force against breakaway Lithuania. Then, on his return to Washington, he explained to Bush Gorbachev’s own view of his problems with hard-liners who thought he was too soft on Lithuania.

Kennedy’s best-known position on foreign affairs was his opposition—early and often—to the second war in Iraq. Before the war began, he said it could “swell the ranks of al Qaeda sympathizers and trigger an escalation in terrorist acts.” And he complained, “The administration has not explicitly acknowledged, let alone explained to the American people, the immense post-war commitment that will be required to create a stable Iraq.” He chided his colleagues for surrendering the congressional power to declare war to President George W. Bush.

He kept up the criticism as the war unfolded, accusing the administration in 2003 of telling “lie after lie” while its “trumped-up reasons for going to war have collapsed.” In 2004, he said, “If Congress and the American people knew the whole truth, America would never have gone to war.” Later that year he said the administration had hopelessly mismanaged reconstruction and “failed to see the insurgency that took root last year and began to metastasize like a deadly cancer.” And in 2005 he became the first prominent officeholder to call for a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq

Kennedy put a simple stamp on his opposition. Recalling his October 10, 2002, vote, he said four years later at the Massachusetts Democratic convention in Worcester: “My vote against this misbegotten war is the best vote I have cast in the United States Senate since I was elected in 1962.”

Adam Clymer is a former chief Washington correspondent of the New York Times and author of Edward M. Kennedy: A Biography.

This is a very selective catalog of Mr. Kennedy’s foreign policy accomplishments, even for a quickie hagiography.

Lest we forget, the one time Vietnam War hawk, Mr Kennedy, led the move to cut off aid to South Vietnam, which led to the North invading and eventually defeating the South in 1975.

This, in turn, led the the deaths of hundreds of thousands in re-education camps and as refuge ‘boat people.’ Not to mention the subsequent deaths of millions of Cambodians at the hands of the Communist Khmer Rouge.

We will skip over Mr. Kennedy’s purported ‘idealism’ in dealing with the Soviet Union. (Which, as we have detailed elsewhere, was far more about defeating Mr. Reagan than it was about any humanitarian reasons or alleged commitment to nuclear disarmament.)

Instead, let’s focus like Mr. Clymer does, on Mr. Kennedy’s ‘idealism’ as manifested in his great foreign policy achievement – his ‘early and often’ opposition to the Iraq War.

In point of fact, Mr. Kennedy furthered the invasion of Iraq and the overthrow Saddam Hussein by categorically stating in 2002 from the floor of the Senate: “We have known for many years that Saddam Hussein is seeking and developing weapons of mass destruction.” (A speech strangely omitted by Mr. Clymer.)

But, just like he did with Vietnam, Mr. Kennedy soon changed his capacious mind and decided that he was actually adamantly opposed to the Iraq War.

Indeed, he early and often claimed that Iraq was going to be Mr. Bush’s Vietnam. (That is, if he had anything to do with it.)

Consequently, Mr. Kennedy did all he could to further our defeat in Iraq, including opposing the ‘surge’ which all now recognize has having turned the tide.

But if the ‘Lion of the Senate had ‘succeeded’ with Iraq as he did with Vietnam, who can doubt that we would now be facing staggering numbers of dead Iraqis due to the precipitous withdraw of our troops and the subsequent civil war and even possible invasion from Iran.

In any case, by any fair measure, Mr. Kennedy’s idealism has been hellishly costly in blood and treasure for Americans and other peoples of the world.

And it would have been even worse had he gotten his way more often.

This article was posted by Steve on Thursday, August 27th, 2009. Comments are currently closed.

19 Responses to “A Clymer’s Paean To ‘Teddy’s Idealism’”

  1. Tater Salad says:

    The Last of The Kennedy Dynasty

    As soon as his cancer was detected, I noticed the immediate attempt at the “canonization” of old Teddy Kennedy by the mainstream media. They are saying what a “great American” he is. I say, let’s get a couple things clear & not twist the facts to change the real history.

    1. He was caught cheating at Harvard when he attended it. He was expelled twice, once for cheating on a test, and once for paying a classmate to cheat for him.

    2. While expelled, Kennedy enlisted in the Army, but mistakenly signed up for four years instead of two. Oops! The man can’t count to four! His father, Joseph P. Kennedy, former U.S. Ambassador to England (a step up from bootlegging liquor into the US from Canada during prohibition), pulled the necessary strings to have his enlistment shortened to two years, and to ensure that he served in Europe, not Korea , where a war was raging. No preferential treatment for him! (like he charged that President Bush received).

    3. Kennedy was assigned to Paris , never advanced beyond the rank of Private, and returned to Harvard upon being discharged. Imagine a person of his “education” NEVER advancing past the rank of Private!

    4. While attending law school at the University of Virginia , he was cited for reckless driving four times, including once when he was clocked driving 90 miles per hour in a residential neighborhood with his headlights off after dark. Yet his Virginia driver’s license was never revoked. Coincidentally, he passed the bar exam in 1959. Amazing!

    5. In 1964, he was seriously injured in a plane crash, and hospitalized for several months. Test results done by the hospital at the time he was admitted had shown he was legally intoxicated. The results of those tests remained a “state secret” until in the 1980’s when the report was unsealed. Didn’t hear about that from the unbiased media, did we?

    6. On July 19, 1969, Kennedy attended a party on Chappaquiddick Island in Massachusetts . At about 11:00 PM, he borrowed his chauffeur’s keys to his Oldsmobile limousine, and offered to give a ride home to Mary Jo Kopechne, a campaign worker. Leaving the island via an unlit bridge with no guard rail, Kennedy steered the car off the bridge, flipped, and into Poucha Pond.

    7. He swam to shore and walked back to the party, passing several houses and a fire station. Two friends then returned with him to the scene of the accident. According to their later testimony, they told him what he already knew – that he was required by law to immediately report the accident to the authorities. Instead Kennedy made his way to his hotel, called his lawyer, and went to sleep. Kennedy called the police the next morning and by then the wreck had already been discovered. Before dying, Kopechne had scratched at the upholstered floor above her head in the upside-down car.
    The Kennedy family began “calling in favors”, ensuring that any inquiry would be contained. Her corpse was whisked out-of-state to her family, before an autopsy could be conducted. Further details are uncertain, but after the accident Kennedy says he repeatedly dove under the water trying to rescue Kopechne and he didn’t call police because he was in a state of shock. It is widely assumed Kennedy was drunk, and he held off calling police in hopes that his family could fix the problem overnight. Since the accident, Kennedy’s “political enemies” have referred to him as the distinguished Senator from Chappaquiddick. He pled guilty to leaving the scene of an accident, and was given a SUSPENDED SENTENCE OF TWO MONTHS. Kopechne’s family received a small payout from the Kennedy’s insurance policy, and never sued. There was later an effort to have her body exhumed and autopsied, but her family successfully fought against this in court, and Kennedy’s family paid their attorney’s bills… a “token of friendship”?

    8. Kennedy has held his Senate seat for more than forty years, but considering his longevity, his accomplishments seem scant. He authored or argued for legislation that ensured a variety of civil rights, increased the minimum wage in 1981, made access to health care easier for the indigent, and funded Meals on Wheels for fixed-income seniors and is widely held as the “standard-bearer for liberalism”. In his very first Senate roll, he was the floor manager for the bill that turned U.S. immigration policy upside down and opened the floodgate for immigrants from third world countries.

    9. Since that time, he has been the prime instigator and author of every expansion of an increase in immigration, up to and including the latest attempt to grant amnesty to illegal aliens. Not to mention the pious grilling he gave the last two Supreme Court nominees, as if he was the standard bearer for the nation in matters of “what’s right”. What a pompous ass!

    10. He is known around Washington as a public drunk, loud, boisterous and very disrespectful to ladies. JERK is a better description than “great American”. “A blonde in every pond” is his motto.

    Let’s not allow the spin doctors make this jerk a hero — how quickly the American public forgets what his real legacy is.. Let’s keep this going for truth, justice and the American way!

    • Didn’t a certain family member of his commit the first American troops to Vietnam at the bequest of a certain Frenchman named Charles DeGualle.

      Wasn’t this family member elected by a margin that was secured by Chicago voter fraud.

      Didn’t this family member withdraw air support and let hundreds die or be captured on the Beach of Pigs.

      Didn’t this family member remove our missiles from Turkey after a phony crisis.

      Didn’t Kruschev have the Berlin wall built because he knew this guy was a wimp.

      Didn’t his ex-mistress Marilyn die in mysterious circumstances.

      Did he not sleep with women provided for him by the Mob?

  2. Enthalpy says:

    Some loved Ted Kennedy. I didn’t and don’t. The damage done to our country by this man is immeasurable.

  3. ilzito guacamolito says:

    ~ Later he told Gorbachev that President George H.W. Bush was not trying to score political points when he warned the Soviet leader not to use force against breakaway Lithuania. Then, on his return to Washington, he explained to Bush Gorbachev’s own view of his problems with hard-liners who thought he was too soft on Lithuania. ~

    Alas, poor Gorby. He must have had something that disagreed with him like too much perestroika. Blowing away a couple dozen Lithuanians and Latvians was too soft a response from a Nobel Peace Prize recipient. I think Teddy probably empathized and had no problem explaining Gorby’s views to Bush Sr.

  4. Liberals Demise says:

    I wonder if Ted is posing for Robert Maplethorpe with garter belt and stockings in a half filled glass of urine?

  5. artboyusa says:

    It won’t stop his canonization but let’s not forget the brutal way Ted treated his luckless first wife, Joan. I first brought this subject up here a couple of years ago. Check out this relic from the Artboy Archives: EXCLUSIVE – KENNEDY ‘DISAPPEARS’ FIRST WIFE, CHILDREN ‘RE-ASSIGNED’ – now that’s one headline you’ll never see in the Boston Globe but its true.

    If you visit his official website (wwww.kennedy.senate.gov – go ahead, your taxes are paying for it) you’ll find that in the “Senator Kennedy’s Bio” section the Conscience of the Senate makes no mention whatever of Joan Kennedy (neé Bennett), his first wife and the mother of his three acknowledged hatchlings. Search the site for her and you’ll get O returns.

    She’s gone, baby, gone. A non-person. Disappeared. She, and 22 years of marriage, never happened. Instead, we’ve got this: “Kennedy lives in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts, with his wife Victoria Reggie Kennedy. Together, they have five children –Kara, Edward Jr and Patrick Kennedy, and Curran and Caroline Raclin. They also have four grandchildren”.

    I bet that that savage “Together, they have five children”, when three of them are HER kids, had poor Joan staggering back into rehab pronto. That unhappy woman; she’s usually described as “troubled” but how troubled, exactly? Well, Google “Joan Kennedy” and the first three hits you get are “Fall revives Joan Kennedy’s struggle with alcohol”, “Kennedy’s Cape Cod home put on market” and “Kennedy’s children become her guardians”. That’s enough trouble for anybody.

    How’d she get that way? As usual with the Kennedys, it’s a sad, cruel story, and here’s how it happened, kinda:

    TED KENNEDY, the DOGGED ACHIEVER*, stars in “Joan Who?”

    Ted knocked back another slug of rum and gazed fondly at the faded, gold framed photograph of his first wife. Joan. Oh, my Joanie he sighed. Joan – so beautiful and so doomed.

    Ted took a sip of his highball and thought back about how it had all begun with so much love and hope and how it had all gone so wrong.

    He remembered that special day in 1957, making an appointment to see his Dad, and then, that even more special day in 1958 when he finally got in to see him. Ted recalled waiting on the bench outside his father’s office.

    Gotta pee, he thought, but if I get up I could lose my place. Must try to hold it…

    After His Excellency the Ambassador had to take care of his other business– with Sam from the Chicago outfit, (Hey, kid” the squat Sicilian had said. “How’s tricks?” “Hi, Uncle Momo” answered Teddy) then Pabletta, the Ambassador’s personal masseuse, and her friend Candi, then Tony from Atlantic City, followed by Richard Cardinal Cushing, personifying so perfectly the majesty of the Church, then after 18 holes of golf and lunch, it was finally time for Ted’s appointment.

    “You still here?”

    “Hi, uh, Dad”

    “Cut the crap. Wadda you want, Tad? Is it money? Are you in some kind of trouble again?”

    “No, Dad. I want to, uh, get married”.

    “Oh, jeez… Well, you better sit down – not the good chair, you could have one of your accidents. The other one”.

    Nervously, Ted had told his father of his feelings and desires.

    “I love her, Dad, and I want to marry her. I, uh, hope I’ll have your blessing”.

    “I could test her out for you, Tad” grinned the old man. “Waddaya say? Make sure everything works all right down below? You don’t wanna get hitched to a dud, now do you?”

    “Please, Dad” said Ted in a quiet voice. “Not this time. Not again. Please”.

    “Aw, get outta here, I was just kidding. You can keep this one. Now amscray; I’m busy writing this letter to the Pope telling him how to handle those lousy Jews”.

    The old man waved his big, freckled hand in dismissal.

    “Then its –okay?”

    “Sure, Tad. Fine. Whatever. Now get lost”.

    “Thanks, Dad, thanks! O boy! Wait’ll I, uh, tell everybody! O boy!”

    “Fucking retard” muttered Old Joe as his youngest son skipped away down the hall.

    At first Ted and Joan were so happy and so much in love. Every day passed in a golden haze of joy but, before very long, dark and sombre shadows appeared.

    She seemed to be everything he needed –blonde, hot, not too bright, good breeder – but, alas, Joan was not the woman he thought her to be, not at all. She was a deeply flawed person and each day her imperfections became more glaring, more obvious, more painful, to him.

    She aged, for example. Despite Ted’s clear instructions to stay eternally young, after just a few years of marriage Joan was looking distinctly older. What a cruel trick! She was doing it on purpose – just to spite him!

    She also expected him to be “around” and to help “raise” their children. Didn’t she understand that he had other, more important, things to do? He came home at Christmas most years – wasn’t that enough?

    She didn’t understand about his, um, personal requirements, either. As a virile Kennedy male, he had certain manly needs which needed to be ministered to on a daily, sometimes hourly, basis. Not only was she not always available for him, she actually objected when he went elsewhere for that oh-so necessary relief. It was so unfair!

    His sisters had tried to help Joan see her responsibilities –“breathe through your noise” they’d advised her. “Just lie there and pray for it to be over” Mother Rose had counselled – but it was no good. No good at all.

    She let him down with the children, too. She actually had the gall to miscarry his fourth seedling –selfish bitch! It was only a couple of weeks after the thing- we- don’t- talk- about at Chappaquiddick happened, so it wasn’t like he was in any way responsible.

    Ted poured himself another glass of Absolut. Then there was the drinking…the fights, the embarrassments, the public humiliation, the multiple DWIs, the recurring trips to Rehab. It was a terrible burden having to live with an alcoholic. He knew all about that…

    It was the women’s fault, really. All they ever caused were problems. Every time some Kennedy male got in trouble, there was some woman right next to him; getting splattered with his brains or lying on the ground under him getting raped or being paralyzed when he flipped the Jeep over or nagging him that he was flying the plane upside down into the ocean – “I know what I’m doing, Carolyn. Quit screaming!” or hammering desperately on the window as the car filled with water –“Ted! Don’t leave me! I’m afraid!”

    Nag, nag, nag. Me, me, me. I’ve got brains in my hair. I’m paralyzed. I’m raped. I’m drowning. I’m dead. It was always something with them, always something. Joan was no different. His Dad had tried to warn him.

    “What are wives for, Tad?” the venerable tycoon asked as they stood together outside the cathedral on Ted’s wedding day, surrounded by all the teeming, swarming family, the murmuring priests and nuns, the clouds of incense, the banks of flowers, the State Troopers, the Swiss Guards sent over specially from the Vatican, Dad’s old German friends up from Brazil, the dazzling Hollywood royalty –hey! That’s Peter Lawford!

    “To, uh, love, honor and cherish?”

    “No, dummy!” said Old Joe, giving Ted a playful belt in the head with his heavy fist. “What’s the matter with you? Wise up! To bear our kids and take our shit, that’s what. Jeeez. You want plenty of kids, Tad. You always need lotsa back stock in case of accidents and plane crashes or if any of them turn out to be a…disappointment. Take my tip, Tad. Knock her up fast and keep her knocked up. Then she’s always busy with other stuff and you can do what the hell you want”.

    “Like sailing?”

    “Sure, Tad – sailing. That’s what I’m talking about”.

    “I like sailing”.

    “You fucking retard. C’mon; lets go and get this over with…that poor girl”.

    Then, after so many years, it was finally over. She’d clung to his side, a walking Al-Anon poster, through the 1980 campaign, when America had foolishly spurned his bold leadership but after that…well, what could he do?

    He couldn’t be expected to stay home and look after her or try to make her happy, could he? He had his family’s devotion to public service to think about. And anyway, why should he? Not after everything she’d done. It was too late for her to change and, frankly, she’d got in the way of his happiness for too long.

    The divorce was a mess, of course. “Irretrievable breakdown” –ha! She was the one who was broken down, he was doing great. Nothing the matter with Ted! Cost him $4 mil but it was worth it, a bargain, in fact. Getting the Church to bless his second loving union had cost him lots more. Lots.

    Poor, uh, Joan; she, uh, didn’t deserve me, thought Ted, dropping her picture into the wastebasket before mixing himself another gin and tonic. She sure didn’t.

    * “Ted Kennedy -The Dogged Achiever”. TIME cover story April 14, 2006.

    • Colonel1961 says:

      Brilliant! And far too close to the truth…

    • Liberals Make Great Speedbumps says:

      Huh……artboy……I was expecting one of your always hilarious, dripping with sarcasm installments, not a factual recounting of the tale. What’s up with that?

  6. Georgfelis says:

    Sounds like “Major League” Clymer is shooting for a position on the Obama public affairs department.

  7. Right of the People says:

    “All four trips had led to the release of families and individuals, mostly Jewish refuseniks including Natan Sharansky. The 1974 trip also led to an exit visa for the renowned cellist, Mstislav Rostropovich, to leave the USSR.”

    I wonder what state secrets he had to give the Russkies in return? Teddy or as I like to call him, the Fredo of the Kennedy Clan.

  8. 12 Gauge Rage says:

    Ted Kennedy The Lion of the Senate? Yeah right. More like The Lying King if you ask me. The only agenda he ever had was his own.

  9. proreason says:

    As the patriarch of the Kennedy Mob, Teddy with his lawyers was certainly one of The Moron’s primary handlers.

    Note his timely endorsement of Obamy which was a big event in killing off the upstart rival Clinton facist oligarchy. The Kennedy’s had a 40 year head-start in political crime, but had to suck the hind communist tit from 1992 to 2008. They didn’t like it.

    The only important question now is who will replace the evil sot in Obamy’s politburo, or will that slot remain unfilled?

    Maybe it’s a minor issue as we see our country ooze into the sewer, but we do know the Moron, in addition to being illiterate and stupid, is a drug-addled dreamy Marxist type, which Teddy was certainly not (drug-addled yes, but idealist?….snicker snicker).

    So the thing to wonder about is whether you want a Soros-type facism, or a Fidel-type facism.

    Personally, I’m rooting for the Moron to take a larger hand in the plot. He may be a dedicated Marxist, but every day that goes by demonstrates that he is one of the dumbest revolutionaries who has ever lived, and lazy to boot.

  10. 12 Gauge Rage says:

    PR, Ted’s vacancy won’t stay that way for long. As my wife has often said, ‘Nature abhors a vacuum.’ Something has to fill in the emptiness. Or in this case an empty seat. Don’t be surprised if they were already grooming a replacement while the Senator from Chappaquiddick was still alive.

  11. GetBackJack says:

    There is but one consolation I have in Ted Kennedy’s death.

    He is in Hell. He will be in Hell for Eternity. He cannot now escape the sins of his life, and he will pay for those sins through the rest of Time.

    His is eternal torment.

  12. Chuckk says:

    Kennedy lived about a year after being diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. I wonder how long he would have lived under Obamacare?

    • Colonel1961 says:

      He would have lived just as long, as Members of Congress and Senators are exempt from pretty much all the laws they pass. He would have retained his Congressional health insurance and his personal wealth would have smoothed out any rough edges.

      Now, if you want to posit the same question re: humble members of the proletariat…

  13. Whizzer says:

    Bush and Cheney were right! Remember when they were caught on an open mike saying Clymer was “a major league ass-hole”? Details here: http://archive.salon.com/politics/feature/2000/09/04/cuss_word/

    Gotta love it!

  14. MinnesotaRush says:

    Teddy who????

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