When the news broke about Ted Kennedy’s death last week, two things became imminent: 1) A televised re-telling of the Kennedy legend, played out over several days; and 2) a well-crafted obituary that criticized Kennedy imagery, penned by Massachusetts’ own Dan Flynn.
My Mom will enjoy Flynn’s take on Kennedy’s dicey version of Catholicism (that allows de facto divorce), but Flynn also discusses the near-royal status the Kennedy family enjoyed and the changing policy positions Ted Kennedy embraced throughout his career that signified a lack of substance beyond his last name. While maintaining a respect for the deceased, Flynn pokes holes in the images that have been all over the TV over the past few days:
The caricature that Ann Richards and others painted of George H.W. Bush — “born on third base and thought that he hit a triple” — more resembled Ted Kennedy, a gregarious rogue enabled by wealth, power, and a famous last name. The privilege that shielded the playboy senator from the consequences of his actions acted as a double-edge sword by ensuring that he also never learned from the mistakes he didn’t suffer from.