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Thank Goodness for Public Education!

My occasional drinking buddy Robert Stacy McCain points out how Newsweek’s Eleanor Clift seemed emotionally grounded in the fact an entire generation of school children wasn’t taught the full events of the middle of July 1969.

The city editor at a small daily in Iowa sent a reporter out last week to gather reminiscences of Senator Kennedy. “Be sure to ask about Chappaquiddick,” he said, a request that drew a blank look. The young reporter had no idea what he was talking about. When this story was related to me by the editor’s wife, who is a baby boomer steeped in Kennedy lore, I thought how relieved the Kennedy family must be that a generation of Americans doesn’t automatically reflect on the tragedy that for so long clouded Ted Kennedy’s life and career.

Try it’s a generation of kids with history teachers who didn’t bother to inform them Eleanor.

Personally, I never heard the word “Chappaquiddick” let alone could spell the word until I was 15 and it was brought up in a video on the 1960s I watched in my spring semester U.S. History class as a freshman at Kiel High.  My history teacher — a battle-axe of a woman and the type of history teacher who focused on dates and facts they don’t make anymore — Miss Eichelkraut (Miss “Ike” for short), was no political conservative by a long shot, but she knew history was important.  So after we watched video, I wasn’t as politically charged as I am today, slowly raised my hand and recall asking something close the following question:

“Um, Miss Ike. Did Ted Kennedy just leave that woman to die in his car?”

Miss Ike didn’t really stand there dumb-founded, but she did pause in my statement and say something along the lines of “Yes Kevin, in all likelihood he did.”

I didn’t really leave the classroom that day proud I pointed out to my classmates what was the obvious fact of Chappaquiddick.  I left it aghast that a man elected to such high office and held in such high honor by segments of the population would do such a thing, let alone not report it, let alone not be held responsible for it.  At that age, I cared little about professional politics and the back and forth of who won and lost.  All I cared about then was typical teenage stuff of the mid-90s and had a moral compass based on what my parents told me was right and wrong.

That’s why something like this by Chicago Tribune columnist/blogger Eric Zorn is so telling to the American political and media environment.  In it, Zorn laments that if the 24/7 news media environment of today was around in 1969, Ted Kennedy would have been destroyed politically.  That all of Kennedy’s actions that weekend — as well as all actions done by the investigators on Martha’s Vineyard and Cape Cod — would have been under a media heat lamp from the moment the news broke.

Well no duh.

It’s that attitude around the events of Chappaquiddick that astonishes me the most around most media and liberal intelligentsia I’ve run into this past week.  “Oh God, do we have to talk about Chappaquiddick?” seems to be the most telling squeal from a cable talking head.

This is me no doubt speculating, but I often wonder if liberals have ever asked themselves when it comes to Chappaquiddick if they’ve put someone other than Ted Kennedy in his place, what likely would have happened to them when dealt with by law enforcement.  Or does that just not matter, that ‘equal treatment under the law’ and all the other platitudes are just that — empty phrases — when it comes to backing someone who shares the same ideology as you?

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  • Sonny

    Do you often have drinks with people who feel “a natural revulsion” toward inter-racial marriage?

  • Sonny

    Do you often have drinks with people who feel “a natural revulsion” toward inter-racial marriage?