It’s not that during Kennedy’s lifetime there was total silence about his uglier habits; it’s that they weren’t seen as disqualifying. But with these facts on the public record for decades, and the evolution of our culture over those years, more critical portraits of Kennedy are thankfully emerging, if in fits and starts…
Owen Gleiberman, a self-described liberal, explained why that’s important in his Variety piece, “Why Every Liberal Should See ‘Chappaquiddick.’” The movie, he writes, “doesn’t attack Ted Kennedy’s politics; it says that he betrayed his politics — betrayed the progressive dream — by refusing, at a crucial moment, to live within the rule of law.”
In a way, though, we betrayed ourselves. Kennedy violated our values of decency and justice and we celebrated him. In a free society, portraying history accurately is acutely important, as future generations rely on that information to make important decisions.
A more honest appraisal of Kennedy’s life would enhance the moral authority of Trump critics. When congressional Republicans ignore his antics, liberals can say they tried to clean up their own house first.