I was amazed by this post by NRO’s Jim Geraghty on the late Sen. Ted Kennedy and his forthcoming biopic:
“But how do you tell the story of Chappaquiddick and not make Ted Kennedy look like the world’s biggest jerk, a man who should have done jail time?… Whether or not the director and creative team intend it, this movie will do a lot to tarnish — or in our eyes, correct — Kennedy’s reputation.”
Yeah! Way to stick it to a senator from Massachusetts who’s been dead for six years! That’ll move a few votes away from Hillary!
The animosity that conservatives still — still! — hold for the Kennedy clan reaches Hatfield-McCoy levels. It’s all the more fascinating, considering how Camelot’s peak influence ended with the assassination of two of the three brothers in the 1960s. No liberal would disagree that the third was the least powerful of their generation. And yet, here we are, at the end of 2015, and Ted Kennedy remains as white-hot a topic of anger for National Review as immigration, the estate tax or Donald Trump. Geraghty’s piece comes across like a raging, spittle-flecked column denouncing Stokely Carmichael, or the AFL-NFL merger, or Muhammed Ali refusing to be drafted. How timely!
What, he has no new dirt on Marilyn Monroe?
I’m not sure if there is a liberal equivalent to this, a conservative figure or family who triggers such hate long after their death or retirement. Nixon springs to mind, but no, not really. Only the most stubborn Baby Boomer still hates Tricky Dick. Your average liberal wants to actually rehabilitate his image into “He would have been such a great Republican compared to the knuckleheads we have today, if it weren’t for that unfortunate hotel-burglary thing.” See here, for instance. Or his sympathetic portrayal in X-Men: Days of Future Past. (Update: Or institutions no less liberal than Michael Moore and Salon sighing and reminiscing about ol’ Tricky Dick.) Younger liberals didn’t grow up with the reflexive Nixon hate of the Boomers and are able to appraise him honestly, unlike younger conservatives in regards to Nixon’s contemporaries, the Kennedys.
Besides, Nixon was actually president instead of a mere senator. So was Bush 43, the other contender for hatred long after his departure. There is no question he was the worst president we’ve had since James Buchanan. But does anyone hate on him now? He’s been out of office just a few months longer than Ted Kennedy’s been dead. You’d think we liberals would still be raging about him. Nope! Like Nixon, he’s getting the “doesn’t look so bad by comparison” treatment as well! It’s been untold ages since I’ve heard a good Bushitler rant… I’m getting downright nostalgic just thinking about it.
If conservatives were smart, they’d do something similar and talk about how much worse Hillary is than the Kennedys… but they just can’t adapt. I suppose “conservatism” is all about not changing. So for that reason, Geraghty deserves a gold star.