After having been buried for almost fifty years.
The new film “Chappaquiddick” is, to date, the most brutal and honest account of what happened that night. But it’s also something else: an indictment of our collective hero worship at the altar of Brand Kennedy, which bred so much corrosive entitlement that surviving brother Ted, the family beta male, went home to sleep it off after leaving a loyal young staffer to die alone.
As portrayed by Jason Clarke, the young senator is a venal, self-pitying coward, thoughtless and remorseless, ambition his only care. He treats loyalists and groupies with equal contempt, and as the weekend begins, he toasts them all for “wanting to prove yourselves worthy of…the Kennedy name.”
The film depicts Ted as drinking and driving before his black Oldsmobile 88 flies off a small wooden bridge and into a pond, crash-landing upside down.
According to contemporaneous accounts, the tide was dead low, the water only 5 or 6 feet deep. Both of the passenger-side windows were blown out. Kennedy later testified that Mary Jo might have been hitting or kicking him in her frantic struggle to escape. He claimed to have gone back under for her six or seven times but there is no proof. He was seen at 2:25 a.m. in dry clothes by a hotel desk clerk.
When Mary Jo’s body was recovered the next morning, it appeared that she died not of drowning but suffocation. She likely lived for hours. There she had been, her head and neck jammed at a sharp angle up against the foot board, gasping through a small air pocket. Was she wondering where Kennedy was? Was she convinced he was on the verge of coming back for her? That he had gone to get help?
After all, who would leave someone in this situation alone? Least of all someone who had suffered so much loss so young?
Ted Kennedy passed by nearby lighted homes and the local fire department as he walked back to his inn, away from the pond he’d later claim was deep and at high tide. He slept that night as Mary Jo took her last breaths.
The next morning, Ted refused to appear at the scene when summoned, demanding that the chief of police come down to the station. There, the chief finds Kennedy behind the cop’s own desk, reading a carefully worded statement. He doesn’t mention Mary Jo by her full name because he doesn’t know how to spell “Kopechne.”
Ten hours had passed since the car went in the water.
But Ted’s only concern is that he’ll never be president. Criminal charges don’t concern him, nor does he ever consider he might go to prison. He is, after all, a Kennedy.
Ted flees the island, helps block an autopsy, and attends Mary Jo’s funeral wearing a fake neck brace. For a time, he considers blaming the dead girl and telling the police that she was driving. Instead he blames the bridge, he claims exhaustion, he tells The New York Times he has a concussion and is on sedatives until The Times reporter informs him no doctor would ever give sedatives to someone who’s concussed.
In the end, Ted Kennedy pled to nothing more than leaving the scene of an accident and received a suspended sentence of two months’ jail time. He would never be president, but he spent the rest of his life held in high esteem by the Democratic party. When he died in 2009, Chappaquiddick and Mary Jo Kopechne were barely mentioned. Instead he was canonized by the Senate as its Liberal Lion, a fighter for the poor, the dispossessed and, yes, women.
The Kennedy family consists of unleavened scum almost to a man, and Ted was the scummiest of them all. Incredibly, though, the callous, self-serving negligence that caused Kopechne’s death was only the beginning of a long, storied career of abuse, immorality, criminality, and outright treason, from “waitress sandwiches” to innumerable dirty Senate deals to his clandestine trip to the Soviet Union to plead with Andropov for help in rigging the 1994 election and make him president.
The man was filth, a pustule, utter swine. He was a groteque perversion of the ideal of manhood, bereft of redeeming quality. If he ever committed a truly selfless or altruistic act, I never have heard of it. That his existence as a creature at liberty to indulge his every whim was tolerated by his fellows disgraces the very idea of human decency; that he never for a moment feared a legal reckoning of any kind for his loathsome depredations makes a mockery of any notion of justice and renders the principle of equality before the law a nauseating joke. That he remains a revered, cherished icon for the Democrat Socialist Party, their liberal-media handmaidens (who perpetuated the “Camelot” lie for decades, and still are), and Progressivists generally certifies their depraved iniquity better than any other single thing could.
Every man Jack of those diseased reprobates is well-slimed by the Kennedy sleaze. But Teddy still tops ’em all, and not by just a little bit. It’s great that the real story of Chappaquiddick is out there for mass-audience consumption at last. It’s appalling—and damning—that it only took fifty fucking years before it finally got done.
“The Lion of the Senate” lived far too long, and enjoyed a life spent wallowing in decadence, unearned affluence, privilege, and complete indifference to the harm he did to others without care or consequence far more than was just. If God could forgive him, then He is great indeed. Kennedy can roast in Hell for all eternity without succor or surcease for all me.