Friday, August 28, 2009

Conservatives on Kennedy's Death: Do As We Say, Not As We Do

Before and after his death, Republicans invoked Ted Kennedy's illness to argue against healthcare reform. Now, they are warning Democrats of political warfare if they invoke Kennedy's name to rally support for healthcare reform.

Much of Kennedy's work as a Senator, however, involved the very type of reform that Democrats have proposed. I think it is abundantly clear who, if anyone, could appropriately invoke Kennedy's name regarding healthcare reform.

Media Matters has more details on this issue. Here's a snip:
Following Sen. Ted Kennedy's death, several conservative media figures -- including Rush Limbaugh -- have attacked Democrats for purportedly attempting to use his passing to stifle debate and enact health care reform legislation. But conservative media figures -- also including Limbaugh -- have used Kennedy's death to attack health care reform, baselessly suggesting that if reform passes, elderly cancer patients -- as Kennedy was -- will be "denied" treatments or that their treatments will be "rationed."
Here's the link: Conservative media attack Dems for playing "death card" while using Kennedy's death to attack health care.


Anonymous said...

Oh no, they're warning of "political warfare". I sure hope this doesn't mean the healthcare debate gets ugly!

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

LOL! Too late to worry about ugly....

Kansas City said...

Here is thelatest about your man Kennedy -- you should just let him rest in peace, pray that there is a highly foregiving God, and move on:

"One of Kennedy’s close friends, former editor of Newsweek and New York Times Magazine Ed Klein, tells the Diane Rehm Show that Chappaquiddick jokes were high up on the list (audio here, at 30:10):
I don’t know if you know this or not, but one of his favorite topics of humor was indeed Chappaquiddick itself. And he would ask people, “have you heard any new jokes about Chappaquiddick?” That is just the most amazing thing. It’s not that he didn’t feel remorse about the death of Mary Jo Kopechne, but that he still always saw the other side of everything and the ridiculous."

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

The Huckster (Huckabee) already went there. He says that Obama's death panels would have tried to make Kennedy end his own life. What a pathetic excuse for a politician -- and minister. Does God like lies?

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

KC: I am amazed(actually I am not) that you have taken this slice of commentary regarding Kennedy as proof that he is [fill in the blank with negative adjectives]. But you try to defend Justice Scalia who ignores racism -- ooops, irrational racial sympathies and antipathies leading to a death sentence -- and even ACTUAL INNOCENCE in order to hasten execution of people petitioning the Court for relief. "Your man" is a callous justice who apparently is unconcerned with anyone's rights -- except for white plaintiffs in affirmative action cases. Sorry, but I'll take Kennedy over Scalia/Rehnquist anyday.

Kansas City said...


You attempt to change the subject to Scalia. I did not post a "slice of commentary." I posted what a good friend of Kennedy reported as a fact.

I did not say Kennedy joking about a situation where he killed an innocent young woman and then lied about it for 40 years was proof of anything. Intelligent people can decide for themselves what, if anything, it proves.

Why don't you tell us what you think of Kennedy joking about Chappaquiddick?

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

I am not changing the subject to Scalia. I just thought your defense of him and criticism of Kennedy show inconsistency on the subject of life/death. IF Kennedy joked about a vehicular homicide, that is WRONG. It is also WRONG for a sitting Supreme Court justice to welcome the execution of someone who can prove "actual innocence" and to admit that racial biases influence jurors but then pretend that the Court is powerless over the situation.

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

KC: I just listened to the NPR interview during which Joe Klein said this. I look forward to reading his book on Kennedy.

But as with all shortquotes taken from a broader conversation, the one you posted leaves out important details.

The inteviewer says to Klein (paraphrasing) that she has been hearing people all day saying that they want to celebrate Kennedy's life. Joe Klein responds by saying -- (again paraphrasing) this is true....Kennedy would not want people to have heavy hearts and to be sad.

The interviewer says -- he'd probably come in laughing and telling a big joke right now. And Klein says that's true. He always tried to look at all sides of things and to tell jokes. Interviewer: at his own expense? Klein says -- yes, and then he launches into the quote you posted (he even joked about that) And then Klein says that Kennedy was very remorseful over her death....

Your quote didn't provide a complete picture. Here's the show -- the conversation occurs around 29:40: Reflections on Sen. Kennedy

Kansas City said...

Thanks for the link.

I agree it provides an additional piece of information and context -- that during the discussion of Kennedy's humor and how he would want people laughing upon his death, the interviewer interjected "at his own expense" immediately before the quoted comment that "I don’t know if you know this or not, but one of his favorite topics of humor was indeed Chappaquiddick itself. And he would ask people, “have you heard any new jokes about Chappaquiddick?”

So, now what do you think the fact that "one of [Kennedy's] favorite subjects of humor was indeed Chappaquiddick" and that he thought is was funny to ask if someone had heard any new jokes about Chappaquiddick? I assume that, if you now anything about the incident, you realize that he almost certainly was going to the beach to have sex with the woman and when he knew he had killed her, he went back to the hotel and tried to plant the basis for an alibi - complaining to the hotel desk about noise at 2:30 a.m. and then chatting amiably with strangers at 7:30 a.m. and agreeing to go to breakfast with them - ONLY GOING TO THE POLICE AFTER HIS AIDS ARRIVED AND THEY WENT BACK TO THE ISLAND AND DISCOVERED THE BODY HAD BEEN FOUND. Essentially, he used his money and influence to avoid jail and never told the truth.

So, it is okay for the big man to proceed with a life where Chappaquiddick is one of his favorite subjects of humor, even if it was in the context of making fun of himself?

ps - I know you detest Scalia, but you have to be fair. He never said anything could be fairly desribed as welcoming the execution of someone who can prove "actual innocence." His recent opinion emphasized that the claims of actual innocence had been repeatedly considered and rejected by the judicial and the executive branches.

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

KC: I do not believe that anyone goes through life without flaws. Some have more than others, but we are all flawed. Yes- RACE,WEALTH, AND POLITICAL CONNECTIONS helped Kennedy get out of a load of trouble (and these things still advantage people in the US).

I welcome questions about how we should reconcile this event with his life's work. But to imply that I have some type of liberal blind spot because I can see his life in its totality is unjustifiable. Kennedy was flawed. So was MLK, Mother Teresa, Jesus, and a host of other heroes. If you look back through the blog, you will notice that I have never discussed any character "flaws" in eulogy posts. If I cannot say anything good about the person, I don't post a rememberance. That's just good southern manners.

For a very emotional discussion of this subject, see: On Sin, Forgiveness and Redemption: A Few Thoughts On The Loss Of My Friend, Senator Kennedy

Kansas City said...


Your liberal bias/blindspot is obvious on your posts about Kennedy. The balancing done by the linked discussion at by the far lefty Tenured Redical is fine, but you don't do that. You simply laud Kennedy. If it was that you refuse to discuss anything about his faults due to his recent death, then that would be one thing. But you respond with excuses, claiming his joking about Chappaquiddick needed to be in context, and waiving the old bloody shirt of Scalia.

By the way, look at the below list of legislative accomplishments cited by the TR - most were bipartisan and not controversial when passed and they ignonre the more important issues on which he was clearly wrong (nuclear freeze, anti-Reagan, Iraq War I, welfare reform). Kennedy was a big deal to liberals because he was their voice; the fact that his brand liberalism lost the battle of ideas over the past 40 years means that he was a far less important political figure than his fans and the liberal media are making him out to be.

managing the Immigration Act of 1965 on the Senate floor; creating the national community health center program (1966); the Bilingual Education Act of 1968; amending the Voting Rights Act to lower the voting age to 18; which preceded a constitutional amendment to lower the voting age (1970); expanding federal funding for cancer research; the Meals on Wheels Act (1972); ending military aid to Chile following the 1974 US-backed coup; the Individuals with Disabilites Act (1975); sanctions against the apartheid regime in South Africa (1985); the Americans With Disabilities Act (1990); the Family and Medical Leave Act (1994); the Child Health Insurance Program (1997). More recently, Kennedy was one of 23 Senators to vote against the war in Iraq.

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

I only started talking about Kennedy's faults in response to your post. I think it's quite an interesting positiong to doubt that I really don't bring up negatives in "death announcements" because I responded to you! LOL. I have posted on Walter Cronkite, Farrah Fawcett, Michael Jackson, Bea Arthur, and Ted Kennedy (at least). Not one negative in any of those posts - until you came along. It is ok to have a debate over these things, but that does not alter my original position. Just do a "search" of the blog, oh yea of little faith.

Kansas City said...

I'm not saying whether you do or do not bring up negatives in death announcements.

Of course, in this case, you were responding to me. As I said, if your response was to simply refuse to discuss his faults at the time of his death, that would be weird but it would be something entirely different than what you did, which was repond to my post in a manner that included excuses for what I think most people would consider pretty callous or at least arrogant behavior in Kennedy considering Chappaquiddick as one of his favor topics of humor. You fist said such conduct would be wrong, then backed off after listening to the recording.

If I may ask, do you consider Kennedy's humor related to Chappaquiddick to be wrong? How would you describe your view of it?

I think people, not just liberals with a blind spot, often have a problem in letting their bias keep them from admitting the obvious. You could easily acknowledge Kennedy's flaws and still argue that he was an effective senator or even a good person.

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

KC said: "If I may ask, do you consider Kennedy's humor related to Chappaquiddick to be wrong? How would you describe your view of it?"

I already answered that question. See prior post.

Kansas City said...


You can't bring yourself to give a direct answer. You would be a horrible witness. Earlier, you conditionally said it would be wrong if he joked about a "vehicular homicide," then backed off a bit when you listened to the tape. This is your site and you can do whatever you want, but I think it would be a pleasant and impressive surprise if you replied to issues more directly.

Of course, it was horrible for Kennedy to treat Chappaquiddick as one of his favorite topics of humor, and you should say so, even if you think otherwise he was God's gift to the world.

It would be comparable to Strom Thurmond or Robert Byrd "humorously" talking about their old days of anti-black conduct.

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

KC: You would be a horrible lawyer asking a witness to make such a wide-opened value judgment (especially on an immaterial point)! And then if you complained about the witness during the questioning, the judge would not be a happy camper.

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