De mortuis nil nisi bonum — Of the dead speak only good.
I've tried, the Lord knows I've tried. Like the Irishman who delved deep into his memory to find something . . . anything . . . praiseworthy to say about a newly dead scoundrel and finally came up with "Well, he was a good speller in sixth grade."
I'm digging deep to find something nice to say about the late Sen. Edward Moore Kennedy. It's an illusive goal.
Bill Buckley once noted that the de mortuis quote was a gentleman's way of saying the deceased was a son of a bitch — and Teddy Kennedy was that — and often worse.
The only kind word I have for the late senator involves his devotion to his family, not of course, including his first wife, whom he helped drive into alcoholism with his serial philandering. Nor his nephew William Kennedy Smith, whom he took out on a drinking spree on, of all nights, Good Friday — a binge that resulted in eventual unproven charges against Smith that he raped a young woman that besotted night.
Admittedly he was a devoted father of his own children and caring father to scores of nephews and nieces who lost their own sires. His behavior, however, left little to be admired or emulated by the horde of younger Kennedy offspring. He had a precedent in that regard — his father and his brother Jack, both notorious philanderers.
Anybody who reads the scathing piece about Kennedy in the late Mike Kelly's voluminous 1990 article in GQ will agree that the sainted Teddy was no saint, to put it mildly. He ended his self-destructive ways after marrying a second time but that wasn't really redemptive — he continued to be a demagogue — the wealthy brat championing the cause of lesser breeds like a nobleman handing out pieces of bread to the common folk while hiding his contempt for them and those from whom he took the bread they earned by their labor.
He showed no respect for the restraints on government power embodied in the Constitution, nor to his obligation to conserve the resources of the taxpaying public. He cast aside doctrines of the Catholic Church as if they were mere suggestions he was free to ignore if they impeded his political career or his sex drive, most spectacularly in championing such aberrations as the murder of unborn, gay marriage and embryonic stem cell research.
He was a bully, visciously attacking good men such as Robert Bork and now-Justice Alito with a ferocity previously unseen in the process of examining Supreme Court nominees.
He wore an impenetrable shield — his status as the last of the Kennedy brothers, now enshrined as secular saints by virtue of having been cut down in their relative youth if not for any real accomplishments while in office. No matter how bad his behavior, he was immune to the strictures of society that govern most of us. He was, after all, a Kennedy — and Kennedys can do no wrong — a bitter lesson learned by the parents of Mary Jo Kopechne.
It has been said that a son of a bitch alive is a son of a bitch dead. Teddy Kennedy wasn't worthy of the adulation shown by many at his death. He was merely just another son of a bitch dead.
Dr. Johnson once observed "The Irish are a basically honest people; they seldom speak well of one another."
I guess I just proved it.
May his soul rest in peace in the hands of an all-merciful Lord.
Phil Brennan writes for Newsmax.Com. He is editor and publisher of Wednesday on the Web and was Washington columnist (Cato) for National Review magazine in the 1960s. He is a trustee of the Lincoln Heritage Institute and a member of the Association For Intelligence Officers. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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