On Friday, Hadley Arkes, an Amherst College professor, wrote in a National Review Online forum that the speech was among the senator’s most unforgivable acts. “We’re told that Ted Kennedy devoted his life to lifting up the poor and advancing the cause of equality,” he wrote. “Put aside the question of whether his measures actually conduced to the well-being of those masses he professed to love but rarely saw in Hyannis Port. Even if they had lifted the condition of mankind, they cannot offset the two acts that must mark forever his character: the death of Mary Jo Kopechne and the savaging of Robert Bork.”

William Bennett, an education secretary in the Reagan administration and conservative commentator, noted in a posting Wednesday on the National Review Web site: “They say one should not speak ill of the dead. True. But I am of the view that one should not lie about the dead either. So I will not go on.”