By John Kusumi
When the news of the death of Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA) first came down, my initial response was a tweet that was skeptical about his legacy. Very clearly, I was being a “show me” type, in which I too would like to see robust, universally-accessible health care and I asked, “Where is it?” I too would like to see a raise in the minimum wage and I asked, “Where is it?” My tweet wasn’t to be hard on Kennedy, but to lament that these two things that he fought for were not well delivered to the American people. If we read into it, I’m actually on the same side with Kennedy, and my disappointment is really with the American polity, moreso than with Kennedy, who was indeed a public servant and fought the good fight.
That’s the tragedy here. Even though Kennedy fought the good fight, the good fight remains to be won.
That initial analysis of mine was results-oriented. In that point of view, a tree is judged by its fruit — “Show me the health care! Show me the living wage!”
If anyone is a “show me” type, then all of U.S. politics is a wasteland with very little to show for the past quarter centurty. In 2000, a very corrupt President (Bill Clinton) was selling a very corrupt measure (China trade) and urging its passage by saying, “trade will bring freedom.” That was a mantra and the basis of advertising in favor of the bill. “Trade will bring freedom.” I called it the Communist Enrichment Act of 2000, and it was a choice to leave open the barn door for the offshoring of American jobs. I find it very hard to praise Ted Kennedy where he was one of the Senators who voted for China’s “PNTR” measure.
Okay, so China got the trade — now, where’s the freedom? Show me types should say, “Show me the freedom!” PNTR failed to deliver as advertised. PNTR did not improve human rights in China (and for that matter, the Olympics failed to deliver on the same promise). PNTR enriched Communists. PNTR left the barn door open. PNTR increased the trade deficit, reduced American employment, and pressured wages lower. Now, when the government “stimulates” the economy, workers buy Made-In-China products, thereby stimulating the Chinese economy.
The China trade measure is an example where Senator Kennedy veered over to the dark side. Ultimately, his is a mixed legacy. But, now is the time for tributes. Now is the time to praise Ted Kennedy, while making notes for later such as “Show me the health care! Show me the living wage! Show me the freedom!” Throughout Kennedy’s tenure, American politics went down hill and declined to where the whole enterprise is indistinguishable from “a giant sucking sound” which is now the sound of looting in progress.
But Kennedy may have been a good guy among bad guys, who gained the upper hand. Indeed, “the dark side” shot his brothers, and Kennedy may have been the victim in chief. In America, we have a crony class; a toady class; and a victim class. Kennedy fought hard for the victim class, perhaps because his family was such a prime example of being victimized by tragedy. There are indeed parallels between the odyssey of Ted Kennedy and the odyssey of America during the same period.
Can it be said that the decline and fall of the Kennedys was the decline and fall of America? Well, maybe and maybe not.
Ted Kennedy was defeated running for U.S. President in 1980. An entire younger generation is probably now surprised by the perception that he was not such a big deal in life — and now suddenly, he turns out to be a very big deal in death. When I was young (doing high school in the 1980s), the 1960s were ancient history. The death of President Kennedy was before my time. Vietnam was before my time. At the time of Watergate, I was a second grader around age seven. Recently, we had the 40th anniversary of Woodstock, and the 20th anniversary of Tiananmen Square. Those were turning points for Baby Boomers and Generation Xers, but the youth of today are younger than that, so even Tiananmen events of 1989 are ancient history.
However, one cannot understand recent history leading up to today without some awareness of Kennedys, Woodstock, Vietnam, Watergate, Ronald Reagan, and Tiananmen Square. Younger people are getting the picture that these matters will have enduring impact even for their generation, so it may be well to brush up and to come up the curve about them.
And for an older generation, they DO have living memory of President Kennedy (JFK) and all of these things. A lot of older people will swear that America was more liberal in the 1960s, and that the assassination of JFK was the beginning of the end. Everything went down hill from there. I have come to believe that those older people are correct, and that we should re-open an investigation into the death of JFK. Who benefitted by the death was LBJ, the former rival and Vice President to JFK, who became President Johnson upon that death.
There are older, corrupt, powerful people who do not like to admit of any corruption. But I believe that younger Americans would be right to adopt a matching set of four bumper stickers: “Pearl Harbor: FDR Knew.” “JFK: Inside Job.” “Tiananmen Square: Bush Knew.” “9/11: Inside Job.”
I believe that gradually, American history will be rewritten to acknowledge the wisdom of these bumper stickers. Clearly, it is for the younger generation to reclaim American history; to take it back from the corrupt old bats who hijacked it. In this way, the decline and fall of the Kennedys need not be the decline and fall of America. The Kennedys are gone, but we the next generation of Americans are still here. It is not for us to surrender our country into the kind of corruption that it was steered into after the death of JFK.
I believe that we should probe the relationship of the CIA to LBJ, George Bush Senior, and Richard Nixon (and then later, it’s relationship to Dick Cheney and the neoconservatives). I believe that a full investigation there would uncover the origins of the JFK and 9/11 attacks. (They have something in common in that, the laws of physics are defied by the official government explanations of those events. Science would lead us to conclusions which differ from the official fairy tale versions of the stories surrounding those events.)
I am already on the record looking forward to the memoirs of Ted Kennedy. On 8/26/09, in addition to tweeting, I commented on a Kennedy-eulogy article and said — “What I hope is that he has bombshell memoirs soon to be published. I hope that he calls out the CIA for assassinating his brother, and neoconservatives for their crimes against humanity.” LBJ is no longer around to be prosecuted, but America can and should bust the Bush crime family and the Clinton crime family. Now, the death of Ted Kennedy reminds that his was a family of public service — victimized by the dark side.
Even though he voted for PNTR, I’m willing to forgive Kennedy for that and in conclusion, to offer my thumbs up review for his life of public service. Rest in peace, Ted Kennedy, and God bless America!