ARLINGTON, VA — Nil nisi bonum de mortuis spake the
Romans. So, may God rest the soul of Ted Kennedy.
In the summer of 1958, I grandly informed my parents that our next
president would be a Catholic, Jack Kennedy of Massachusetts. My analysis
was simple: Kennedy had too much charisma for two-time-loser Adlai
Stevenson, staid ol’ Estes
Kefauver, and cornpone Lyndon Johnson to compete with. His lock on
the Democratic nomination was virtually assured — and, after eight
years of the Republicans, people would slide toward the Democrats in
My folks were old enough to remember Al Smith. They were Catholic
converts in Bible Belt Oklahoma. They knew the landscape. They smiled
indulgently at my bold prediction. Their skepticism was not entirely
unfounded; the fulfillment of my prediction did require some electoral
legerdemain in Mayor Daley’s Chicago
I confess. I was a Kennedy fan before I was old enough to vote. But Jack Kennedy
was dead before I could vote for president. In the 1964 election I voted neither
for Goldwater nor Johnson because I was overseas in the Peace Corps, being swept
along in the dreamy tides of Camelot.
Then I got swept along to what the Army called a “hostile fire zone” (for
being inside of which I was paid an additional $65 per month). My Camelot
died crouching behind a paddy dike in Quang Ngai Province.
So, heeding the Roman decree, I must switch my focus because I can think of nothing
else nice to say about the Kennedy boys.
I suppose I could add that Teddy just fell victim to that O
tempora o mores thing.
Teddy was pro-life at the beginning of his career, at least until 1971. Then
along came Roe v. Wade, against which no high official of the labor movement,
despite the fact that almost all of them were nice Irish Catholics skipping along
hand-in-hand with nice Jewish boys, could muster the courage to protest, or the
time, perhaps, having to spend every waking moment, you see, fending off the
sinister attempts of gangsterism to infiltrate their noble cause, which was practically
synonymous with the Democratic Party.
Then, of course, seeing the Solid South begin to crumble, the party had no choice
but to start assembling a new coalition of the disaffected. Chief among these
were the radical feminists who had all taken a blood oath to sacrifice their
first-born on the altar of the god Roevwade and had taken to comparing themselves
to fish and men to bicycles.
Fame has almost always led to wealth, to be sure, but modern America has raised
that path to the gold standard. Democrats were first with the acumen to mine
it politically. Celebrities, especially those wild and crazy funbunnies in Hollywood,
rapidly evolved into a principal funding stream for the new coalition. Many of
these celebrities were soon testifying on Capitol Hill to help our representatives
fashion legislation appropriate to the trials and tribulations of our time.
Who in his right mind would want to get caught disagreeing in public with Sissy
Spacek? One could really get burned.
Finally, although buying votes is an ancient tradition (one of those
things Romans were not supposed to mention in connection with the deceased),
Franklin Roosevelt had the genius to plop it down square in the lap
of the federal government. By doing so, he bought — with funds stolen
from a minority of citizens — the gratitude of a majority of citizens.
Roosevelt’s Democratic successors, good learners
that they are, have honed the practice into a fine art in which the
thievery is no longer visible beneath the veneer.
I trust you see my point. Teddy was just a victim of all this. I am not criticizing
him, just the sum total of social circumstances in which he was forced to wend
his way as a successful politician. With all that momentous change in the air,
had he stuck to his guns, had he led a Catholic crusade against the murder of
50 million babies, he would have wound up, not as the distinguished Senator with
more than 46 years of service in that august body, but as just another defeated
politician like Al Smith.
Oh yes, Ted Kennedy was an avid and accomplished sailor. He trimmed
his sails with precision and tied up safely in port. He earned a very
proper send-off, with a nice funeral with the Holy Sacrifice of the
Mass, with Cardinal O’Malley
in respectful attendance, with Yo-yo Ma playing his cello during the
presentation of the gifts, with Placido Domingo singing Panis
Angelicus, and burial in Arlington Cemetery, not far from the eternal flame of
his dead brother, who had once so inspired me.
With all my heart I pray that Susan Graham’s prayer in singing
Maria had already been answered in Senator Kennedy’s case
— that Mary had indeed been praying earnestly for his soul in
hora mortis suae, and that, as in the sweet prayer of St. Alphonsus Liguori
to Our Mother of Perpetual Hope, Jesus, our Judge, was appeased, by
one prayer of Mary, toward the soul of Ted Kennedy in that hour.
Nil nisi bonum de mortuis. This is not about Ted Kennedy.
This is about the American people who have not yet died. Let us then
remember that a little up the east coast in Philadelphia, the night
funeral, one of the finest athletes ever to play professional football
was struggling — two years away from the game and $20 million in debt
— to make a comeback, trying not to get booed as he decided between
throwing the ball or tucking it in and running. Fit punishment for
the horrendous crime of cruelty to dogs. Redemption comes hard to Michael
Is this a great country or what?
The Unrepentant Traditionalist is copyright (c) 2009 by Frank
Creel and the Fitzgerald Griffin Foundation.
All rights reserved.
Frank Creel, Ph.D., has been a columnist for the Potomac
Virginia. His op-ed articles have been published in the Northern
Virginia Journal, the Washington Examiner,
Times, and the New York City Tribune. In 1992, his A
Trilogy of Sonnets was published pseudonymously by Christendom
See a complete biographical sketch.
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