Herbert: Kennedy 'Had to Fight Back After Chappaquiddick'

May 24th, 2008 6:32 AM
My circle of friends lost a fine man, a husband and father of several children, to brain cancer not long ago. He fought with courage and optimism, and received fine treatment, but the disease simply proved too strong. I sympathize with the plight facing Ted Kennedy, his family and loved ones. I'd add that in the course of the current coverage, I've learned of Kennedy's admirable history of extending kindnesses to many, putting him in something of a different light for me.

That said, I cannot help but comment on Bob Herbert's NY Times column of this morning, Tears for Teddy. The gist is that this is but the latest of many challenges that Kennedy has faced. And it's certainly true that the senator's life has been touched by more than its fair share of tragedy.

Even so, read this line, the one the Times placed on its op-ed web page to promo the column, and see if the same thing doesn't come to your mind as did to mine:
The press will tell you that this is Senator Kennedy’s toughest fight. I don’t even know if that’s true. Who knows what the toughest fight has been for someone named Kennedy?
My reaction was to immediately think of Chappaquiddick, and to try to imagine the fight that Mary Jo Kopechne made. And so I was drawn to read the column, to see how Herbert might address the matter. He first made an elliptical reference to it, writing of the Kennedy clan's "tragic failings." But then came these lines, which immediately followed the "toughest fight" one cited above [emphasis added].
This is a guy who has experienced every kind of horror, who went down in a plane, who had to fight back after Chappaquiddick, who has had two kids stricken with cancer, and on and on. So who knows?
That's right. Without a word for the horror Mary Jo Kopechne experienced, or of condemnation of Kennedy, Bob Herbert sees Chappaquiddick as just one more challenge the senator has had to overcome.