Now Kennedy is Really Dead

What faithful Catholic did not ponder late Tuesday night that the election of Scott Brown to the “Kennedy seat” was God’s judgment on Kennedyism. Kennedyism being the proposition that one may defend the sick and the poor in some circumstances but in other circumstances support their deliberate killing.

After all, Brown’s election is the precursor to the final deathblow to Kennedy’s lifetime project to nationalize health care. And though Brown did not run as a pro-lifer, he ran to kill that monstrous bill, which would have been the largest expansion of baby killing in our post-Roe history.

There are reports that Democrats even lost Hyannis Port, that fabled location in our national mythology. Is it possible that the Kennedy contagion has finally and happily passed?

Teddy Kennedy was one of the most poisonous figures in both our national politics and in our Church. His disgraceful and dishonest performance at the hearings for Robert Bork to the Supreme Court was a watershed in our venomous political discourse (He sheepishly told Bork later, “nothing personal,” as if the judge accepted, as Ted did, that sometimes you just have to tell malicious lies in politics.) What’s more, and worse, Kennedy led the way for Catholic politicians and their followers to support the killing of unborn children and still delude themselves into thinking they remained good Catholics.

A few years ago a senior member of Kennedy’s staff called one of the organizers of the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast who had been quoted in the paper that Kennedy would be welcome to come to the breakfast, but he would never get the microphone. The staff member was stunned that one of America’s most prominent Catholics would be spoken of thus. He even tried to convince the prayer breakfast organizers that Kennedy was really pro-life.

A few months ago the Democratic front group Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good hosted a fundraiser featuring the pro-abortion pol Kathleen Kennedy Townsend and referred to her as coming from the most prominent Catholic family in America.

In some hearts Camelot will never die. Not even losing the “Kennedy seat” will douse the flame of their ardor – dreams of ponies, fine-cut lawns, sailboats, touch football, and pool-parties at Hickory Hill. Hickory Hill is now run down and for sale. Nobody wants it, and for most of us Camelot died roughly at the same time that Mary Jo Kopechne gasped unsuccessfully for one more breath.

And so, we may breathe a sigh of relief. No more will this family darken our national discourse. There were heirs apparent. They say the competition was between Bobby’s son Joe III who had dropped out of Congress and now partners with Venezuelan thug Hugo Chavez to sell heating oil in New England, and Jack’s daughter Caroline who turned out to be not so bright or talented in her quixotic quest to be named U.S. Senator from New York. However, neither of them grabbed for the brass ring.

There are other Kennedys around. Of Ted’s progeny, there is drug-and-drink-troubled Patrick who will likely never rise above his current Congressional seat in Rhode Island. Teddy Jr. seems an impressive young man whose eulogy for his father was a high point in an otherwise troubling funeral Mass, but he expresses no interest in elective office.

Among Bobby’s brood, daughter Kathleen has already run through her political career. Except for his brother who died of an overdose, Bobby Jr. had perhaps the most troubled adolescence, even doing heroin with Lemoyne Billings, one of Jack’s PT-109 buddies. Daughter Kerry published a book about how she remains a Catholic though she disagrees with the teachings of the Church. There are others including Shrivers and Smiths, but I could not name them without Wikipedia.

So what of the fourth generation? The Kennedys are fecund and there are many of them. One of the oddest moments at the Kennedy funeral was when a network commentator gushed about the political future of eleven-year-old Teddy III who, in a televised interview that day, seemed both sweet and precocious. He announced he intended to be US Senator from Massachusetts when he turns forty-five. What is it about this family that some cast their dreams on eleven-year-old boys?

While the Kennedys seem thankfully to be finished in politics, what about Kennedyism? Well, of course, it lives on. Think Biden, Pelosi, Kerry, Durbin, Murray and all the other Catholics who sully our politics and our Church by supporting the right to kill unborn babies. These, too, are Teddy Kennedy’s progeny and while I do not judge his soul I have no doubt he has had to answer for them.

But who knows. Maybe little Teddy III will become a faithful Catholic and a pro-life hero. Perhaps he will be like Eunice and not like Grandpa Ted. Even pro-lifers can have their Camelot fantasies.


Austin Ruse is the President of the New York and Washinton, D.C.-based Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute (C-FAM), a research institute that focuses exclusively on international social policy.

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The Catholic Thing is a forum for intelligent Catholic commentary. Opinions expressed by writers are solely their own.

Austin Ruse is the President of the New York and Washington, D.C.-based Center for Family & Human Rights (C-Fam), a research institute that focuses exclusively on international social policy. The opinions expressed here are Mr. Ruse’s alone and do not necessarily reflect the policies or positions of C-Fam.