Whose Chappaquiddick was Chappaquiddick?

If jesting Pilate would not stay for an answer to his famous question, he owed it to himself to hang around long enough to check out a certain website, where he would surely have discovered what truth isn't. The Huffington Post is the sort of place kids used to call a nuthouse. For lefties at once swollen with their Weltschmerz, aggrieved, yearning for a more sensitive time when anti—American atrocities go unpunished, and sniggering, affecting knowledge and sophistication they simply don't possess, it's a watering hole. 

They congregate there to lie about George Bush and Dick Cheney. A single theme is endlessly reworked, without logic or evidentiary reasoning ever intruding on the monotony of the variations: Bush and Co. are liars. Simplistic and essentially dishonest, it has to be hammered home relentlessly. That requires sacrificing even the most minimal standards of objectivity on the altar of the one transcendent liberal truth, a truth so nebulous and elusive that its exact nature continues to baffle taxonomists.

Not that any of the regular contributors are losing sleep. After all, Arianna Huffington, patron saint of apostates, was recently a conservative pundit. Following her husband's defeat in his bid for a U.S. Senate seat, she jettisoned him, along with all of her previously—avowed principles, and remade herself overnight, Madonna—style, as a liberal pundit. Deeply held convictions, for one who has been initiated into the cult of The Anointed, are so vulgar.

The spectacle of a partisan of the right saying nasty things about the left is guaranteed to induce yawns. Each side routinely accuses of the other of lying (the left does little else), and nobody pays attention, except the silly people whose job is to get themselves all hot and bothered. Well, there's something to that, but allow me to advance a proposition.

Confrontations between liars and honest souls tend to benefit the liars.

The very act of exchanging identical—sounding charges establishes for the undiscerning public, i.e., most voters, a qualitative equivalence. A real problem arises when one side is reality—based, while the other relies heavily on falsehood and distortion. In the absence of critical thinking skills, it is impossible to tell the knights from the knaves. And The Huffington Post is crawling with knaves.

Finding them is as challenging as finding beer cans at a softball game. You might be legally blind, but you'd still trip over your share. Just to take a random stab, here's a notice culled from the Des Moines Register. Far—left blowhard Tom Harkin has decided that the recent violence in Iraq constitutes a civil war. Stop the presses! Democrats have been praying for a civil war for three years and, to their keen disappointment, they don't have one yet. Can you guess what Harkin's solution is? 'The senator, an opponent of the war, said the only solution to the surge of sectarian violence is [fanfare, please] to begin withdrawing U.S. forces.' What's the Senator's rush? C'mon, all together now: 'In order to extricate ourselves from the quagmire there.'

Propaganda has to be repetitive to be effective, and it doesn't get more drearily, mind—numbingly predictable than this. But every so often, just when you thought you've heard everything—when you're certain that the limits of shameless effrontery have been reached—— along comes something of such surpassing moral idiocy that it doubles you over like a Joe Frazier left hook to the liver. You're left gasping: They can't possibly be going there.

In the wake of Dick Cheney's accidental shooting of his friend Harry Whittington, a loony—left blogger on the Huffington Post, one using the name R.J. Eskow, wondered if the incident was 'Cheney's Chappaquiddick.' Honest to God.

Now, where to begin?  The temptation is to try to say everything that cries out to be said all at once. We'll let Eskow set the stage:

Tucker Carlson confronted me on 'The Situation' tonight about the fact that Willeford's husband was apparently on the ranch at the time of the incident. It seems that he and others must think my comparison of the Whittington shooting and Chappaquiddick must be all about sex.

Confused? How on earth does sex figure in the shooting accident? Actually, it doesn't figure one tiny bit. Mr. Eskow, seeker of truth that he is, fabricated this angle out of whole cloth.  Two women not married to either Cheney or Whittington were members of the hunting party. Their husbands were aware; there is not the faintest hint of any sort of impropriety. Don't waste any indignation here—our boy is just getting warmed up.

There were more important factors than sex behind my Chappaquiddick analogy. (That analogy seems to drive conservatives insane, by the way. The hate mail and threats I've received are beyond anything I've ever seen. I guess the word's been such a treasured icon of hate for them that the possible loss of it drives them into a frenzy.)

I suppose there would have to be more important factors, as sex is a nonexistent one here. Clearly, a very sleazy mind, glutted with party politics to the exclusion of all other thoughts and feelings produced that innuendo. And please note the implication that conservatives who resent Teddy must be harboring an irrational hatred.

...It's about power, drinking, irresponsibility, and dishonesty. If there was no romance going on, the issues are still the same...

All right, maybe the guy is simply pulling our legs. By a show of hands, how many people out there out there can think of a mildly significant difference between the two Chappaquiddicks?

The very first order of business is to state for the record that in Teddy Kennedy's Chappaquiddick, a.k.a. 'Chappaquiddick,' a real, flesh—and—blood woman died. By sharp contrast, Harry Whittington received immediate medical attention and was whisked off to a hospital.

No, that's not quite sufficient. We need to review how that woman died. Very briefly, omitting all speculation about Teddy's amorous intentions, the young woman, a Kennedy staffer named Mary Jo Kopechne, had the misfortune to be his passenger when he drove the car off a bridge. Somehow, he managed to extricate himself and swim to safety. She remained trapped in a pocket of air—for who knows how long—and eventually drowned.

This next part should be underlined: The Conscience of the Democratic Party did not attempt to alert anyone to her plight. He went home and met with two of his advisors the following day to map out a strategy to a) obstruct justice and b) preserve his political viability. He didn't report the accident until after it was discovered ten hours later.

Please reread the preceding paragraph several times. Committing it to memory wouldn't be a bad idea.

Ask a liberal/leftist why he, or more incredibly, she isn't horrified, revolted, appalled by behavior that can best be described as horrifying, revolting, appalling, and you're likely to hear a recitation of Teddy's legislative accomplishments.

No, really, he saved himself and let her slowly run out of air and drown.

Well, he's accomplished a lot of good things...

(You might want to restrain yourself from grabbing the zombie by the shoulders and shaking vigorously.)

Do you hear me? He left a woman, still alive, in a submerged car, got himself to shore, AND WENT HOME! He didn't think to pound on the nearest door or yell for help. He didn't do what almost every human on the planet would have done without a moment's hesitation.

No, they don't care. They don't care even slightly. The voters of Massachusetts, to their everlasting shame, re—elect him every six years. And don't fall for the myth that Chappaquiddick cost Teddy his birthright, the Presidency of the United States. When he announced his challenge to incumbent Jimmy Carter back in 1980, preliminary polls showed him with a huge lead. The born—again Jimmuh waged one of his characteristic slash—and—burn, no—blow—is—too—low campaigns, savaging his opponent and completing the job begun by Roger Mudd: the exposure of Kennedy as one the dumbest men ever to sit in the Senate. Voters didn't reject Teddy's morals. They simply found him unfit for the office.

Purely as an exercise, try to imagine something Teddy could do, short of murder, that would damage him. After giving it your best shot, ask yourself if what you've conjured up is worse than what he did, bearing in mind that he wins easily each time he runs. Eskow dissembles:

'It's about character. It matters.'

Character means nothing to a morally tone—deaf fraud willing to stoop to anything to smear politicians whose policies he disapproves of. Everybody pays lip service to the notion that character matters, so nobody seriously ponders the question of why it should. How heavily would you weight character and integrity if you were a voter in the 1972 presidential election? For all his whiny sanctimoniousness, George McGovern had a decided edge over Tricky Dick. Would you, therefore, vote to install in the White House someone who had a terrific shot at losing the Cold War for the West? I confess that wrestling with this question makes me extremely uncomfortable.  I will insist, however, that lines must be drawn somewhere.

Teddy Kennedy left Mary Jo Kopechne to die on a night in 1969. Over a third of a century has passed without anyone elucidating the ideological component in the tragedy. What is right or left about condemning behavior that is so utterly beyond the pale? Massachusetts is the bluest of blue states: Are there no other reflexively anti—military socialists who are capable of representing it?

In the most bizarre two sentences of his frighteningly twisted blog—always assuming that whole thing is not merely a very dark satire—Eskow writes:

'Ted Kennedy eventually came clean on his accident, and by all by all reports he's straightened his life out. All of our leaders should do the same.' 

Yes, yes, I know: Heaven help us if our leaders do the same. But for anyone who doesn't know, there is the magnificent essay 'Ted Kennedy on the Rocks,' which appears in the collection of Michael Kelly's work, Things Worth Fighting For (Penguin Books 2004). Kelly's untimely death in Iraq deprived the world of an elegant stylist and a good man.

My submission to the Understatement of the Century Contest is: Ted Kennedy has not come clean on his 'accident' nor has he quite straightened his life out.

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