Saturday, August 29, 2009

On praise of Kennedy by Republican fellow Senators

Doesn't it strike you that almost all of the "he was a nice guy even though I disagreed with his politics" praise that Kennedy gets from his Republican colleagues, really reduces to nothing more than, "If you were somebody, like me, whom Kennedy found it useful to charm, then he could be very very very charming indeed?" It's as if Republican politicians have completely forgotten that charm and virtue have nothing whatsoever to do with each other, that charm is the indispensable requirement of every S.O.B. who wants to be able to get away with outrageous and sociopathic behavior, and that furthermore charm is the primary professional skill of the professional politician. Kennedy could charm you if he thought it worth his while. Okay. And that says what, exactly, about his character?

If I want to know what kind of person a man is, I don't ask how he treats the people he thinks he might need favors from later -- which would include, in Kennedy's case, pretty much every member of the media and every member of Congress. I ask how he treats the people whom he thinks he can treat as he wants without fear of repercussion...waitresses, for example, or starstruck young staffers whom he has gone to the trouble to get drunk, or young ladies who have been assaulted by his close relatives. If you tell me, sure, Kennedy left Mary Jo to a lingering death by asphyxiation and then spent the rest of his life collecting and being amused by Chappaquiddick jokes, but that's not so bad because when I arrived in Washington as a fellow Congressman he made an effort to charm me...sorry, but that doesn't make me think well of Kennedy's character. It just makes me think badly of your intelligence.

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