Edward M. Kennedy

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Edward Moore Kennedy
Former U.S. Senator from Massachusetts
From: November 7, 1962 – August 25, 2009
Predecessor Benjamin A. Smith
Successor Paul Kirk
Party Democrat
Spouse(s) Joan Bennett Kennedy (1958–1982)
Victoria Reggie Kennedy
Religion Roman Catholic

Edward Moore ("Ted" or "Teddy") Kennedy (February 22, 1932 – August 25, 2009), a Democrat from Massachusetts, was the third longest-serving U.S. Senator in history. He was a leading liberal force in American politics, opposing free market solutions in everything from education to health care. He pushed for federal taxpayer funding of education in the 1960s, poverty programs in the 1970s, disability coverage in the 1980s; education again in the 2000s and immigration (both in tandem with President George W. Bush); throughout his Senate career—and especially in 2009 until the day he died—he promoted socialized medicine.

Ted Kennedy always led the most liberal side of the Democrat Party, from support for taxpayer-funded abortion to same-sex "marriage". Kennedy played the instrumental role in blocking a referendum on same-sex "marriage" in Massachusetts.[1] Kennedy tried and failed to win the White House and was ousted in his Senator leadership role by the Exalted Cyclops Robert Byrd, who defeated him for Majority Whip in 1971.

Kennedy exerted enormous power thanks to his seniority and committee chairmanships, his willingness to work with Republicans, his unusually energetic staff, and the celebrity accorded the most famous name in politics. More than any senator in recent decades he was the master of legislative legerdemain: handling negotiations over broad policy goals, vetting the smallest details, negotiating with the concerned lobbyists, orchestrating the public hearings, briefing and leaking to the media, crafting compromises, cutting deals with the White House and with Republicans, and designing a legislative path through committee and onto the floor to get his legislation passed.

Kennedy garnered the nickname "Lion of the Senate" for his long and vigorous career in public service. In the club-like atmosphere of the U.S. Senate, Kennedy enjoyed personal support from Washington insiders.[2] But outside of Washington, Rev. Thomas Euteneuer had a more objective view of his fellow Catholic: "It is not enough for Kennedy to have been a 'great guy behind the scenes' as we have seen him referred to even by his political opponents. ... Every indication of Senator Kennedy's career, every public appearance, every sound bite showed an acerbic, divisive and partisan political hack for whom party politics were much more infallible than Church doctrines."[3]

The Kennedy Family has been a major part of the Democrat Party for a century, beginning with his grandfather as mayor of Boston, his older brothers President John F. Kennedy (assassinated in 1963) and Robert F. Kennedy (assassinated in 1968) and their special needs sister Rosemary. Despite the family's immense financial resources she was shunted off to an institution in Wisconsin at the age of 23 and spent her entire life abandoned by the family where she died alone in 2005 at the age of 86.[4][5] Ted Kennedy was long a presumptive nominee for president himself, but the Chappaquiddick scandal in 1969 caused him to delay his candidacy until 1980, when he was defeated by the unpopular incumbent Democrat President Jimmy Carter.

Early life

Kennedy was born on February 22, 1932, the youngest of nine children to parents Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr. and Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy.[6] He was born in St. Margaret's hospital, in the Dorchester neighborhood of South Boston.[7] His siblings were John, Joe, Rosemary, Kathleen, Eunice, Patricia, Robert, and Jean.[8]


Kennedy was raised Roman Catholic, and though he disagreed with church leaders on such issues of abortion and homosexual rights, he was described by USA Today "as a devout Catholic who clung to his religion's belief in the potential for human redemption".[9] His mother, Rose Kennedy, was a strong Catholic who often attended Mass twice daily. She once told her now adult son that he was guaranteed to go to heaven if he went to Mass seven straight Fridays. Ted's close friend Dick Clasby recalls, "So Ted and I went seven Fridays, and that was it,".. that was the deal."[10] As a politician, Ted Kennedy aggressively promoted taxpayer-funded abortion and same-sex marriage in direct violation of Catholic teaching.

Regent University School of Government Dean Charles Dunn sees Kennedy as one who turned from his Family's conservative roots.

He gradually in metamorphosis moved from the right of center theologically and politically to the far left of center, so he left the mooring spiritually of his mother and ideologically and politically of his father.[11]

From a 1971 letter to Catholic League member Tom Dennelly, Republican activist and writer Deal Hudson quotes Kennedy as stating,

It is my personal feeling that the legalization of abortion on demand is not in accordance with the value which our civilization places on human life. Wanted or unwanted, I believe that human life, even at its earliest stages, has certain rights which must be recognized; the right to be born, the right to life, the right to grow old.[12]

Kennedy also wrote:

When history looks back to this era it should recognize this generation as one which cared about human beings enough to halt the practice of war, to provide a decent living for every family, and to fulfill its responsibility to its children from the very moment of conception.[13]

Later, in 1983, Kennedy spoke of his faith in a speech in 1983 at the late Jerry Falwell's Liberty Baptist College, now called Liberty University, stating that "I am an American and a Catholic; I love my country and treasure my faith",[14] but expressed that there was no monopoly on truth, while suggesting that "God has taken no position on the Department of Education."[15]

While some Catholics agree with Kennedy's moral policies,[16] other express certain dismay over his promotion of abortion, homosexuality, and other sins which are contrary to the Bible as well as official Catholic teaching.[17] Kennedy had a 100 percent score from the abortion-rights group NARAL on abortions, and 0 percent from the National Right to Life Committee.

Kennedy apparently suffered no official church discipline for his contrary actions, and was reported to be attending Mass regularly in February, 2009.[18] The priest at the Kennedys’ parish on Cape Cod, Mark Hession, made regular visits to the Kennedy home this summer and held a private family Mass in the living room every Sunday.[19]


Among other schools, Kennedy attended Fessenden School, and later the private Milton Academy, earning only C grades. He was admitted to Harvard University as a "legacy", due to his father and older brothers having attended there. In 1951, Kennedy was expelled from Harvard for cheating, having paid a classmate to take a Spanish test for him. His father, Joseph P. Kennedy, former U.S. Ambassador to England, worked with the Boston Globe's top political editor on how to blunt the impact of this revelation. His father further advised him to refrain from cheating, stating, "you're not clever enough." After his expulsion, Kennedy enlisted in the United States Army, applying for a position in Army intelligence at Fort Holabird, Maryland. He departed abruptly after a background investigation "linked him to a group of 'pinkos.'"[20] He received no special treatment according to his sergeant, but his father worked to keep his son out the Korean War. Instead, in 1952 Kennedy was assigned to the NATO honor guard in Paris, France.[21] Kennedy failed to advanced beyond the rank of Private, and upon being discharged he returned to Harvard, subsequently graduating in 1956. Kennedy also graduated from the University of Virginia law school in 1959, where he was the winner of the William Minor Lile Moot Court Competition.[22][23] Harvard University later bestowed an honorary degree on Kennedy when he was 76-years-old, featuring remarks by Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, and a performance by cellist Yo-Yo Ma.[24]

Life and career

Sen. Kennedy (left) President Kennedy and his brothers, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy and Senator Edward M. Kennedy, 08/28/63.
Kennedy married Virgina Joan Bennett on Nov. 29, 1958, and on Nov. 8, 1960, he saw his brother, John F. Kennedy, elected President. After passing his bar exam and briefly serving as an assistant district attorney, Kennedy was elected to Senator in 1962, with the help of his Presidential brother's maneuvering,[25] and was re-elected to that office eight times. On. Nov. 22. 1963, Ted Kennedy suffered the death of his brother and President, due to assassination. Kennedy was seriously injured in a plane crash in 1964, which broke his back in nineteen places. As a result, Kennedy suffered back and neck pain for the remainder of his life.

June 5, 1968 saw the assassination of his brother, Senator Robert F. Kennedy. The following year, Kennedy drove his car off a bridge at Chappaquiddick, Mass., and managed to escape, but failed to rescue his passenger, campaign worker Mary Jo Kopechne from drowning, and did not notify authorities till the next day.

In addition to the death of his two brothers, in 1941, Ted's oldest sister, Rosemary Kennedy, secretly underwent an new operation called a prefrontal lobotomy, which in the 1930s was promoted as a great advance in the treatment of the often violent agitation which the mildly retarded, but previously good natured Rosemary was manifesting in her early twenties. Her father Joseph believed this was best, and apparently without telling his wife, consented to the operation. However, the lobotomy was a tragic failure, resulting in Rosemary living apart from her family for fifty years in a care facility in Wisconsin, until her death in 2005.[26][27][28]

In 1980, Kennedy campaigned to become the Democrat nominee for president, but lost to incumbent Jimmy Carter. Problems with alcohol and martial fidelity followed him,[29] and in 1984 he divorced his wife of 24 years. He later became the object of more controversy in 1991, when after the end of a night out with the senator, his nephew William Smith was charged with raping a woman. Although Smith was acquitted, the media attention negatively affected Kennedy. In 1992, Kennedy married Washington lawyer Victoria Reggie, daughter of the Louisiana political figure, Edmund M. Reggie.[30][31][32] Kennedy also was the subject of controversy regarding his alleged advisement to the Soviet Union during the Presidency of Ronald Reagan.[33]

Sen. Kennedy (left), his wife Virginia, former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich (center) with Mrs. Blagoevich, Barack Hussein Obama is partly obscured, and Michelle Obama (far right).

During his career as Senator, Kennedy is credited with several legislative endeavors, primarily in liberal goals in welfare, civil rights, and education. He was instrumental in passing Head Start (part of the 1964 Economic Opportunity Act), and promoted the No Child Left Behind Act, as well as increases in minimum wage, and fought for unrestricted access to abortion, even in late term, and voted against the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act. He repeatedly sought to pass hate crimes legislation, such as would penalize discrimination against homosexuals and women,[34] and voted against DOMA. Kennedy was a strong supporter of the 1965 Hart-Celler Act, which signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson, which dramatically changed US immigration policy and numbers.[35]

During his tenure on the Senate Judiciary Committee Kennedy was an outspoken critic of conservative Supreme Court nominees, such as Robert Bork, Clarence Thomas, Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justice Samuel Alito. He also supported nuclear reduction treaties, and worked for more student aid for GIs, and led opposition to the Iraq War.

Kennedy's success as a Senator was partly attributed to his ability to manage people. Thomas M. Rollins, former staff director of the Labor Committee, stated, "He's a genius at managing people." "Kennedy uses staff people the way Pony Express riders used horses: Ride 'em hard and then leap to another horse". His staff was one of the Senate's largest, with nearly one hundred professionals and several dozen interns and visiting fellows.[36]

Chappaquiddick Scandal

Maryjo kopeckne body bag.JPG

On July 18, 1969, and close to midnight, Senator Kennedy drove away from a party on the island of Martha's Vineyard with an attractive young woman named Mary Jo Kopechne, 28, a former aide to his brother Robert. In what he later described as an accident, Kennedy made an unusual turn onto an unlit dirt road and then across a small, unrailed wooden bridge connecting Chappaquiddick Island to Martha's Vineyard. The car went off the bridge and landed upside down in the water, where Kopechne then drowned.[37] Kennedy did not report the incident to the police until the next morning, and his statement then was implausible to many Americans.

This death became a national scandal and hurt Kennedy's image. He entered a plea of guilty to a charge of leaving the scene of an accident after causing injury, but did not serve any time in jail in a sentence criticized for its leniency towards a member of a prominent family.

G. Gordon Liddy, the mastermind of the Watergate break in, told an interviewer his unauthorized burglary of Democratic National Committee headquarters was motivated by a desire to find information on the Chappaquiddick coverup.[38]

Ten years after the incident Kennedy was preparing to run for president. His response to a question in an interview with CBS's Roger Mudd may have doomed any chances to carry on the Camelot legacy.

MUDD: Do you think, Senator, that anybody really will ever fully believe your explanation for Chappaquiddick? KENNEDY: Well the problem is that from that night I found that the conduct and behavior almost beyond belief myself.[39]

Kennedy's response in the third person, "the conduct," was viewed by many as failure to accept personal responsibility.

According to Newsweek’s Ed Klein, Kennedy loved to hear and tell Chappaquiddick jokes, and was always eager to know if anyone had heard any new ones.[40]

Presidential Campaign

Kennedy was frequently mentioned as a possible Democrat presidential candidate in 1972 and 1976. However, he chose not to run due to his controversial past and claimed to have family concerns after his two brothers were assassinated. But in 1980 he decided to challenge incumbent President Jimmy Carter for the Democrat nomination. Though Carter was unpopular, Kennedy failed in his effort to supplant him as the party's nominee.[41]

U.S. Senate

Edward M. Kennedy and John Kerry at the time of the slanderous inquest of American servicemen in the so-called "Winter Soldier inquisition". [4]

Kennedy gained a reputation as a very liberal Senator, even further to the left than most Democrats. He had a pro-abortion voting record.[42] He voted against confirming Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court of the United States and was in the minority of his own party to vote against confirming John Roberts to the Court. On immigration Kennedy had been a strong supporter of amnesty for illegal aliens.[43] He voted against the war in Iraq[44] and Kennedy was one only five senators who had publicly announced support for same-sex "marriage".[45]

In 1976, Edward Kennedy presented before the U.S. Senate a bill known as the Kennedy Amendment to modify the Foreign Military Assistance Act in order to exclude Chile from the military aid that his country provided to the Latin American republics that had signed the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance (TIAR). He was in opposition to President Augusto Pinochet Ugarte who was leading the Military Government. The restrictions were approved and began to apply to Chile in October 1977.

In addition to many other bills, Kennedy played a key role in the crafting the language in the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (Public Law 107-110), a massive education bill signed into law by Republican President George W. Bush.[46]

He was most recently Chairman of the United States Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions,[47] where the first bill he pushed through was an increase in the minimum wage by $2.10, to $7.25.[48]

Kennedy and John McCain collaborated in writing much of the 2007 immigration bill, which failed by two votes for cloture despite support by President George W. Bush.[49] The 2007 bill was a follow-up to the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006.

No Fly List

On August 19, 2004, Kennedy made news for being stopped by airport security, because a suspicious individual was using the alias "T. Kennedy". While not actually Ted Kennedy himself, he had been flagged by the TSA and privately acknowledged the embarrassment that the situation created.[50] At a Judiciary Committee hearing in 2005, Kennedy ripped into the unjust nature of the no fly list, because it captures innocent Americans in its web.[51] "I got on the watch list last April," Kennedy said "He couldn't even get my name off the list for a period of weeks. Now if they have that kind of difficulty for a member of Congress - my office has had a number of instances where we've had a leader of a distinguished medical school in New England and the list goes on, how in the world are average Americans who are going to get caught up in this kind of thing - how are they going to be treated fairly and not have their rights abused?"[51]

The issue of Kennedy's last name appearing on the no fly list became an issue during the 2016 presidential election. Candidates Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio discussed the controversy. Some confusion arose on the issue since not only did papers at the time report that he was on the watch list, but Kennedy himself stated "I got on the watch list". However, Factcheck.org attempted to shift focus on the issue and make it seem as if Republicans simply made the issue up.[52]

Russian collusion

In 1978, Kennedy requested the assistance of the KGB to establish a relationship between the Soviet apparatus and a firm owned by former Senator John Tunney (a fellow liberal Democrat), according to a KGB report to the Soviet Communist Party Central Committee, discovered in the KGB archives by Russian investigative journalist Yevgenia Albats in 1992. The KGB recommended granting Kennedy's request, on the basis of Tunney's connection with David Karr, a "competent KGB source."

Sen. Ted Kennedy colluding with Soviet Premier Leonid Brezhnev to interfere in the 1984 Presidential election.
In 1978, American Senator Edward Kennedy appealed to the KGB to assist in establishing cooperation between Soviet organizations and the California firm Agritech, headed by former Senator J. Tunney. This firm in turn was connected to a French-American company, Finatech S.A., which was run by a competent KGB source, the prominent Western financier D. Karr, through whom opinions had been confidentially exchanged for several years between the General Secretary of the Communist Party and Sen. Kennedy. D. Karr provided the KGB with technical information on conditions in the U.S. and other capitalist countries which were regularly reported to the Central Committee.[53]

Two years later, on March 5, 1980, Tunney met with the KGB in Moscow on behalf of Kennedy, who was then running to unseat incumbent Jimmy Carter for the Democrat presidential nomination. In the midst of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, Tunney conveyed Kennedy's concern that "nonsense about ‘the Soviet military threat’ and Soviet ambitions for military expansion in the Persian Gulf ... was being fueled by [President Jimmy] Carter, [National Security Advisor Zbigniew] Brzezinski, the Pentagon and the military industrial complex," according to another KGB report, discovered in KGB archives by defecting KGB agent Vasiliy Mitrokhin and reported by him in a monograph published in February 2002 by the Cold War International History Project of the Smithsonian Institution's Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.[54]

Three years after that, in 1983, Tunney, on Kennedy's instructions, carried a message to Yuri Andropov, General Secretary of the Soviet Communist Party, expressing Kennedy’s concern about the anti-Soviet activities of President Ronald Reagan: "[I]n Kennedy's opinion the opposition to Reagan remains weak. Speeches of the president's opponents are not well-coordinated and not effective enough, and Reagan has the chance to use successful counterpropaganda," according to a KGB report discovered in the KGB archives by London Times reporter Tim Sebastian and published in that newspaper in February 1992. Kennedy offered to "undertake some additional steps to counter the militaristic policy of Reagan and his campaign of psychological pressure on the American population." Kennedy asked for a meeting with Andropov for the purpose of "arming himself with the Soviet leader’s explanations of arms control policy so he can use them later for more convincing speeches in the U.S." He also offered to help get Soviet views on the major U.S. networks and suggested inviting "Elton Rule, ABC chairman of the board, or observers Walter Cronkite or Barbara Walters to Moscow." Tunney also told the KGB that Kennedy was planning to run for president in the 1988 elections.[55]

Basilica and Shrine of Our Lady of Perpetual Help where Kennedy used to pray.

Final Illness and Death

On May 20, 2008, Kennedy was diagnosed with a brain tumor, which was treated with surgery, chemotherapy and radiation.[56] He succumbed to the disease on August 25, 2009.

Despite his pro-abortion stance throughout his life, his Catholic funeral was held at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Basilica in the Mission Hill section of Boston.[57] The senator was buried beside his brothers in Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.

Kennedy's memoir True Compass was published three weeks after his death.

See also


  1. How Ted delivered marriage to Massachusetts
  2. Republican Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said "he's like a brother to me,"[1] while Senator John McCain (R-Arizona) said that he has "the highest respect for him," calling him a "skillful, fair, and generous partner" in the times they have worked together.[2] Barack Obama called Kennedy "the greatest United States Senator of our time."[3]
  3. Human Life International's Statement on the Passing of Senator Edward Kennedy
  4. Rosemary Kennedy dies at 86, USA Today
  5. Rosemary Kennedy's Inconvenient Illness, Newsmax
  6. Ted Kennedy’s Living History, Boston Magazine
  7. After Camelot: A Personal History of the Kennedy Family--1968 to the Present
  8. Who Were John F. Kennedy's Siblings?
  9. Sen. Edward Kennedy, 77, dies of cancer
  10. Peter Canellos; Last Lion: The Fall and Rise of Ted Kennedy pp. 45-48
  11. A Look at Ted Kennedy's Catholic Faith
  12. Sen. Ted Kennedy's Catholicism: First Take
  13. Ted Kennedy, Abortion Advocate and Health Reform Mastermind, Dead at 77, LifeSite News
  14. Watch Ted Kennedy Talk About His Catholic Faith
  15. Tolerance and Truth, Washington Post
  16. Revealing Statistics; Differences Between Denominations
  17. The Father of Lies is the Father of Ted Kennedy
  18. A childhood of privilege, promise, and pain, The Boston Globe
  19. NYTimes.com After Diagnosis, Determined to Make a ‘Good Ending’ (August 26, 2009)
  20. Memo, FBI Assistant Direstor Louis Nichols to FBI Associate Director Clyde Tolson, May 11, 1954. Cf. Athan Theoharis, From the Secret Files of J. Edgar Hoover (Ivan R. Dee, 1993), ISBN 146171799X, p. 322
  21. Peter Canellos; Last Lion: The Fall and Rise of Ted Kennedy, pp. 39,40
  22. Timeline: Generations of the Kennedy Family, Public Broadcasting Service
  23. Adam Clymer; Edward M. Kennedy: A Biography
  24. Harvard to Honor Ted Kennedy, Once Expelled for Cheating, Steve LeBlanc, Associated Press (Monday, December 01, 2008)
  25. Daniel J. Flynn, Ted Kennedy's Last Will and Testament (Aug. 21, 2009
  26. Vincent Bzdek; The Kennedy Legacy: Jack, Bobby and Ted and a Family Dream Fulfilled, pp. 33-35.
  27. Howard Dully, Charles Fleming; My lobotomy: a memoir, p. 67
  28. Michael O'Brien, John F. Kennedy: a biography, pp. 172-74
  29. Richard E. Burke, Marilyn Hoffer, William Hoffer; The Senator: My Ten Years with Ted Kennedy, pp. 225,26
  30. Biography of Ted Kennedy
  31. Press, Timeline of Sen. Kennedy's life.
  32. Bonnie Malkin and agencies in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts, Ted Kennedy timeline (Aug 26, 2009)
  33. Jamie Glazov; Ted Kennedy and the KGB FrontPageMagazine.com (Thursday, May 15, 2008)
  34. Sen. Ted Kennedy's Legacy, Fox News
  35. The Real Kennedy Record, Michael Savage
  36. Rick Atkinson, The Washington Post, "Why Ted Kennedy Can't Stand Still," April 29, 1990.
  37. Richard Lacayo; Ted Kennedy, 1932-2009: The Brother Who Mattered Most', Time Inc. (Aug. 26, 2009)
  38. G. Gordon Liddy Interview by John Hawkins.
  39. Ted Kennedy: The Last Brother, CBS News
  40. Former Newsweek Foreign Editor: Chappaquiddick One of Ted's 'Favorite Topics of Humor', Newsbusters.org, August 28, 2009
  41. Ted Kennedy
  42. Ted Kennedy on Abortion
  43. Kennedy-McCain Amnesty Plan Falls Flat
  44. Kennedy: Vote Against Iraq War My Best
  45. Democrats' platform shouldn't back gay marriage, Kerry says, The Boston Globe
  46. Bill Clinton Blames Kennedy for No Child Left Behind Flaws, ABC News
  47. About: U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions
  48. Minimum wage will go up $2.10 on federal level
  49. Kennedy, McCain try again on immigration, The Boston Globe
  50. Sen. Kennedy Flagged by No-Fly List, Washington Post
  51. 51.0 51.1 FLASHBACK: Ted Kennedy Tears Into The No Fly List [VIDEO], The Daily Caller
  52. Ted Kennedy and the No-Fly List Myth
  53. Yevgenia Albats, "Senator Edward Kennedy requested KGB assistance with a profitable contract for his businessman-friend." Izvestia, June 24, 1992, p. 5. Cf. M. Stanton Evans, Blacklisted by History (Crown Forum, 2009), p. 45
  54. Vasiliy Mitrokhin, The KGB in Afghanistan (Cold War International History Project, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars), 2002), p. 160
  55. Tim Sabastian, “Teddy, the KGB and the Top Secret File,” Sunday Times (London), February 2, 1992 (scribd.com). Cf. Paul Kengor, The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism (HarperCollins, 2009), ISBN 006174099, pp. 207-210, 317-320; Steve Gilbert, “Text of KGB Letter on Ted Kennedy,” sweetness-light.com, December 31, 2006; Herbert Romerstein, “Ted Kennedy was a ‘Collaborationist’,” Human Events, December 5, 2003
  56. Doctors: Ted Kennedy has malignant brain tumor, CNN
  57. Ted Kennedy's funeral planned at Boston church.

External links