27 August 2009

In the shade of the trees.

It has been brought to my attention that I appear heartless for speaking ill of the dead yesterday.

First of all, I could have said this. What I said seems pretty mild in comparison now, doesn't it? If I had wanted to be mean I would have linked back to the Ted Kennedy Memorial I designed last summer.

Second of all, Kennedy's final political action was this:
Senator Ted Kennedy, who is gravely ill with brain cancer, has sent a letter to Massachusetts lawmakers requesting a change in the state law that determines how his Senate seat would be filled if it became vacant before his eighth full term ends in 2012. Current law mandates that a special election be held at least 145 days after the seat becomes available. Mr. Kennedy is concerned that such a delay could leave his fellow Democrats in the Senate one vote short of a filibuster-proof majority for months while a special election takes place…
What Mr. Kennedy doesn’t volunteer is that he orchestrated the 2004 succession law revision that now requires a special election, and for similarly partisan reasons. John Kerry, the other Senator from the state, was running for President in 2004, and Mr. Kennedy wanted the law changed so the Republican Governor at the time, Mitt Romney, could not name Mr. Kerry’s replacement.
“Prodded by a personal appeal from Senator Edward M. Kennedy,” reported the Boston Globe in 2004, “Democratic legislative leaders have agreed to take up a stalled bill creating a special election process to replace U.S. Senator John F. Kerry if he wins the presidency.”
"Lion of the Senate," my foot. The guy respected power, first and foremost. And I don't respect that. As usual, Don Boudreaux says it well:
While Kennedy didn’t choose a life of ease, he did something much worse: he chose a life of power. That choice satisfied an appetite that is far grosser, baser, and more anti-social than are any of the more private appetites that many rich people often choose to satisfy.
I'd also refer you to Radley Balko's comments, concerning not just Kennedy, but the eulogizing of all "public servants." Here's a Kennedy-specific portion:
I feel no compulsion to praise Kennedy’s life in politics. Kennedy was an elite, and not by virtue of any actual accomplishment (sorry, but we have 100 senators no matter who comes out on top on election night. Getting elected to political office in itself adds no value to society as a whole). Instead, Kennedy was an elite by birthright, by being born into the closest thing America has to royalty. He used his status and political power to procure advantages the rest of us don’t have, whether it was evading responsibility for his role in a young woman’s death, or hypocritically killing off a planned wind farm in Nantucket Sound because the renewable energy project would have sullied the view from the Kennedys’ Hyannis Port compound–to pick two examples that bookend his life in politics.
Finally, I mentioned yesterday that 150,000 people who aren't Ted Kennedy died in the last 24 hours because we should feel empathy for more than just the powerful and well-connected who pass away. Here's a small sampling from the last day or so:
  • Stanley H. Kaplan, the founder of the nation's first test preparation company, died Sunday. He was 90.

  • Austrian skiing great Toni Sailer, who in 1956 became the first athlete to win all three alpine ski events at a Winter Olympics, died Monday. He was 73.

  • William J. Williams Sr., one of the owners of the Cincinnati Reds from their Big Red Machine days, died Sunday. He was 93.

  • William A. Emerson Jr., a journalist and author who covered civil rights flashpoints as part of a cadre of gutsy Southern reporters and later served as editor in chief of The Saturday Evening Post, died Tuesday. He was 86.

  • The Rev. Carl K. Moeddel, a former second-ranking administrator of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, died Tuesday. He was 71.

  • William H. Robbins, a retired NASA scientist honored for improving satellite communications technology, died Saturday. He was 82.

  • T.J. Turner, the former Miami Dolphins defensive lineman, died Monday. He was 46.
Unfortunately only those with a claim to fame get Associated Press obits, so for all the unknowns out there, may you cross the river and rest in the shade of the trees.

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