The most ridiculous spectacle of the 2008 campaign season might be 75-year-old Ted Kennedy, a man who has spent his entire career in politics, a man who has often personified divisive, attack-based politics, a man who owes his very existence on the national stage to his famous name, getting on the Barack Obama “change” bandwagon. The nation ought to be laughing up our collective sleeves about it, but instead Kennedy is treated seriously not just by the Clintons and Obama, but by the press as well.
Even the NYT’s resident “conservative,” David Brooks, is succumbing to Kennedy’s gaseous “mystique.”
Last week there was the widespread revulsion at the Clintons’ toxic attempts to ghettoize Barack Obama. In private and occasionally in public, leading Democrats lost patience with the hyperpartisan style of politics — the distortion of facts, the demonizing of foes, the secret admiration for brass-knuckle brawling and the ever-present assumption that it’s necessary to pollute the public sphere to win. All the suppressed suspicions of Clintonian narcissism came back to the fore. Are these people really serving the larger cause of the Democratic Party, or are they using the party as a vehicle for themselves?
And then Monday, something equally astonishing happened. A throng of Kennedys came to the Bender Arena at American University in Washington to endorse Obama. Caroline Kennedy evoked her father. Senator Edward Kennedy’s slightly hunched form carried with it the recent history of the Democratic Party.
This is the same Ted Kennedy who worked with the USSR to undermine President Reagan’s foreign policy. This is the same Ted Kennedy who falsely accused President Bush of concocting the war in Iraq for political reasons. Kennedy put his stamp on that slice of “Bush LIED” Trutherism and has never retracted it. Why does Brooks give this loathesome, hypocritical toad a pass?
Well, it will go over well at the weekend cocktail parties. What else explains it?
And what else explains why anyone would listen to one of the chief architects of the politics of division and personal destruction and one of the longest-serving dynastic politicians in the country when he talks about the need for “change?” Everything about Kennedy screams stasis, not change.
If Ted Kennedy really believes that the country needs change, he should start with himself and retire.