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Ak-Sar-Ben Itself Merits Praise Along With King Dick And Queen Suzanne - 10-14-10

Come Election Day, White And Terry Can’t Duck Party Labels Any Longer - 10-07-10

Today, Second-Guessing Other Sports Commentators But Some Thoughts On Current Political Issues, Too - 09-30-10

Gates Gives Somber Non-Political Appraisals Of Iraq, Afghanistan - 09-23-10

At Last, A Prominent Moderate Muslim Speaks Out Against Muslim Terrorists - 09-16-10

Today, It’s All About College Football With Some “As I See It” Commentary - 09-09-10

Danes’ Sensible Approach To Immigration Won’t, Unfortunately, Fly In The U.S.A. - 09-02-10

Mosque Controversy Isn’t About Legal Rights; It’s About Moral Use Of Those Rights - 08-26-10

Time To Answer The Obvious Question: What Chance For Success In Afghanistan? - 08-19-10

Two-Paragraph News Story Offers Scary Prospect For World’s Future - 08-12-10

Outdated Constitutional Language Adds To Today’s Illegal Immigration Mess - 08-05-10

Not Wall Street But Democratic Policy Caused Mortgage Market Crash - 07-29-10

Windfarm Promoters Need More Facts, Less Rhetoric - 07-22-10

Nebraska Democrats’ ‘Find A Candidate’ Problem Began Long Months (Years?) Ago - 07-15-10

When The Subject Is Disasters,Obama Needs A History Lesson - 07-08-10

McChrystal’s Firing Spotlights Afghan War And The Slim Chance Of U.S. Victory There - 07-01-10

Advice For An Egocentric President: “I, I, I” Suggests One-Man Team - 06-24-10

Texas Decision Good For Big 12 But Even Better For The Longhorns - 06-17-10

Europe Is Sobering Up From 'Welfare' Binge; Obama-Led U.S. Moving Toward Similar Crises? - 06-10-10

A New Issue: Does ‘Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell’ Make Military Service Easier For Gays? - 06-03-10

Do State Officials Really Understand The Challenges Faced By Omaha Schools? - 05-27-10

Democrats Continue Cheap Shot Campaign Against Republican Congressman Lee Terry - 05-20-10

Cartoonist Koterba Says It Clearly: Don’t Put All The Blame On Schools - 05-13-10

Citizenship For Immigrants Is Inevitable But Start By Closing The Border - 05-06-10

Punish Wall Streeters If They Deserve It But Liberal Dems Spawned The Mortgage Mess - 04-29-10

Did Legislature, Speaker Mike Flood Deserve All Those Kind Words? - 04-22-10

Tiger Sulks His Way Through Masters— Is Obama Gambling On The Nuclear Issue? Rogue States And Terrorists Won’t Sign Up - 04-15-10

Did Obama/Pelosi ‘Sausage Factory’ Produce A Debt-Increasing Unpopular Health Plan? - 04-08-10

The Stories Behind Some Disturbing Headlines And Some Advice For Avoiding National Bankruptcy - 04-01-10

Four-Vote House Margin Makes Americans Swallow Trillion-Dollar Pill They Don't Want - 03-25-10

Insurance Pays 96% Of Family’s Cost For Seven Years Of ‘End Of Life’ Treatment - 03-18-10

President Angry Replaces President Cool; ‘ObamaCare’s’ Chances Helped Or Hurt? - 03-11-10

Americans To Get ‘ObamaCare’ Even If They Don’t Want It? - 03-04-10

Despite The Headlines, There’s Progress In Curbing Violence In North Omaha - 02-25-10

Corporate Expenditures Bad For Politics Except When They Benefit Liberal Candidates? - 02-18-10

Wind Energy Industry Faced Disaster; V.A. Hospital Not Personal Obama Choice - 02-11-10

Some Remarkable Legislative Comments And Some Questionable Media Performance - 02-04-10

When The Subject Is Nebraska Wind Energy, ‘Green’ Is The Color Of Money - 01-28-10

The “Teddy Kennedy Seat” Lesson Might Benefit Both Democrats and Republicans - 01-21-10

Some Legislative Issues—Like Gambling—Deserve Quick Death But Water Issues Deserve Careful Attention - 01-14-10

Today: ‘Big Daddy’ Government Wrong Again, And How Justified Is Cornhusker Title Talk? - 01-07-10

Dan Neary Worthy Of The Honor--
Today Some Upbeat Comments But "Obama Care" Debate Demands Attention
- 12-30-09

Even Without That Health Bill Vote, Another Term For Nelson Was Questionable - 12-23-09

Let’s Talk Football And Why Nebraska’s Suh Deserved The Heisman - 12-17-09

Image of Immigrants Would Be Helped By Less Cinco de Mayo, More 4th of July - 12-10-09

Image Of Islam Is Badly Damaged By ‘God-Approved’ Slaughter Of Non-Muslims - 12-03-09

Close Call For NU Research, Reputation; Thanksgiving Reminder: Count Your Blessings - 11-25-09

NU’s Reputation And Research Role Are Both At Stake When Regents Vote - 11-19-09

Obama’s ‘Yes We Can’
Changing To ‘Maybe We Can’t’?
- 11-12-09

Review The History Before Renaming A Street; Memories Of Sarah, Our Sweet Senior Dog - 11-05-09

“Socioeconomic Diversity” More Important Then Academic Achievement In “Learning Community”? - 10-29-09

A Visiting Sports Columnist Agrees: ‘There Is No Place Like Nebraska’ - 10-22-09

Might Obama Wish He Had A Chance To Say ‘No, Thanks’ To Early Nobel Prize? - 10-15-09

Don’t Overlook The Variety Of Aid Which Goes To ‘Poverty Level’ Families - 10-08-09

Smorgasbord Today: From UN’s “Nutcake Day” To Obama Performance Here And Abroad - 10-01-09

Must Defense Continue To Cover For Huskers’ Anemic Red Zone Offense? - 09-24-09

'Energizer Bunny' President Continues To Add Proposals For Reform - 09-17-09

Today, Variety: Football, Golf And Why No President Should Televise Himself Into The Nation’s Classrooms - 09-10-09

Massachusetts Gave Kennedy Significant Second Chances - 09-03-09

Obama’s Problem Not Just With GOP
But With A Great Many Americans
- 08-27-09

Tiger Could Use Sportsmanship Lesson—And Less Coverage From Fawning Media - 08-20-09

Gallup ‘Competitive’ Label, If Accurate Long Term, Is Good News Not Only For Nebraska Democrats - 08-13-09

Democrats Go All-Out Negative:
Trash Private Insurance Industry
- 08-06-09

Journalistic Watchdogs Turned Lapdogs When Obama Called That ‘News Conference’ - 07-30-09

Look Back, Mr. President: Opposition Is Catching Up - 07-23-09

Dem Lynch Mob Might Hang President’s Hopes - 07-16-09

Dems Start Oust-Terry Effort In The Political Gutter - 07-09-09

Despite Liberal Media's Views, Nation Better Served By Viable GOP - 07-02-09

A Varied Menu For You To Consider - 06-25-09

Freshman President Learning Some Political Realities? - 06-18-09

Voices Of Reason Raised Too Late To Slow Rush To Wind Power? - 06-11-09

Public Will Be Watching Prosecution Of Three Teen-Age Creatures - 06-04-09

Wealthiest Paying Less, In Taxes?
It’s Simply Not True
- 05-28-09

Notre Dame And Obama
Offer A Splendid Lesson
- 05-21-09

Special-Interest Liberals
Shouldn’t Badger Obama
- 05-14-09

A Surprising Source: Obama
Cites Positive Results of Iraq War
- 05-07-09

Media Transfer Their Love
From Candidate to President
- 04-30-09

Suttle Campaign Subtly Two-Faced? Or ‘Just Politics’? Voters Will Decide - 04-23-09

If America Is "At War
With Islam," It's Self-Defense
- 04-16-09

Seven Iowans Change Marriage
Tradition For 3 Million Others
- 04-09-09

Will Liberal Democrats Continue
Escaping The Verdict Of History?
- 04-02-09

Multi-Focused President
Upsets Even Liberals
- 03-26-09

Richard Nixon—Appropriate To Recall The Good As Well As The Dark Side - 03-19-09

Not Reducing Mortgage Costs; We’re Simply ‘Modifying’ Them - 03-12-09

Fair Warning From NY Times: Obama’s “Breathtaking Plans” Would “Transform American Society” - 03-05-09

A Look At Academy Awards Nastiness, But First A Plug For My Book, “Life With Marian” - 02-26-09

Let’s Not Move Slot Machine Cancer From Iowa Casinos To Nebraska Race Tracks - 02-19-09

Whiteclay Is Wrong Target;
Aim At Alcoholism Problem
- 02-12-09

For The Best “Stimulus” Formula:
Put Economic Recovery First;
“Remaking USA” Can Wait
- 02-05-09

Journalistic Hounds Are Still
In Full Pursuit Of Bush
- 01-29-09

‘First Black President’ Celebration
Shouldn’t Further Distract Us
From Job We And Obama Face
- 01-22-09

‘Adults In Wonderland’
Need To Get Real
- 01-15-09

Advice For Husker Fans:
Rejoice—But Be Realistic
- 01-08-09

Kennedy Dynasty History
Includes Shameful Chapters
- 12-31-08

Today Some Merry Christmas Thoughts But A Few Political Barbs, Too - 12-24-08

This Time It’s Indians
Who Break The Treaty
- 12-18-08

Me? A Grumpy Old Man?
One Reader Thinks So
- 12-11-08

Obama Steers A Moderate Course
But Congressional Democrats Veer Left
- 12-04-08

Too Many "Non-Blessings"
This Thanksgiving Week
- 11-26-08

Let’s Hear More About
The Principal ‘Crisis’ Victims
- 11-20-08

Color-Blind Issues Voting
Showed No Turn To The Left
- 11-13-08

Election Made History
But Big Questions Remain
- 11-06-08

Today, A Choice of Topics:
Politics Or Football—Or Both
- 10-30-08

Splitting Electoral Votes Good Idea? Then Why Do 48 States Reject It? - 10-23-08

Dems Take 11th Hour Low Road
In 2nd Congressional District Race
- 10-16-08

Another Government “Welfare Program,” Bargain Mortgages, Caused The Crisis - 10-09-08

Words Can Lose Their Meaning
When A Government Program Is Involved
- 10-02-08

—Have We Learned This Lesson?— Crisis Results When Individuals, Encouraged By Financial Institutions, Try To Live Beyond Their Means - 9-25-08

Bonds To Build Four-Lane Highways?
Where Would The Money Come From?
- 9-18-08

Today, a Large Load of Political
Commentary After a Brief Plug For
My Book, ‘Life With Marian’
- 9-17-08

Major News Media Look Bad
In Non-Coverage of
Edwards’ Sex Affair Story
- 9-11-08

Disadvantaged Students Can Be
Helped Without Discriminatory ‘Affirmative Action’
- 9-04-08

My Favorite Olympic Champion?
It Wasn’t Michael Phelps
- 8-28-08

Will Chinese Get Away With
'Out Air Is Clean' Scam?
- 8-21-08

Windmills, Solar Won't Do It;
Time To Get Real On Energy
- 8-07-08

I Doubt That God or Jesus
Have Heavenly Money on Either Team
- 8-07-08

‘Pop Star’ Obama Lacks Experience,
McCain Lacks Clear Campaign Strategy
- 7-31-08

Top Athletes Should
Know When to Quit?
- 7-24-08

Would Odor of Politics
Taint Fire Chief Choice?
- 7-17-08

Will Hospitality, Qwest Center
Lure Swim Trials Back to Omaha?
- 7-09-08

Omaha Stars Again
On National TV Stage
- 7-02-08

Omaha's CWS Reputation
Gets New "Rave Reviews"
- 6-25-08

S.D. Vote Could Lead
To National Abortion Battle
- 6-18-08

Don’t Let Niobrara Go The Way
Of The Republican And The Platte
- 6-11-08

Voters Didn’t Impose Term Limits
To Rid Legislature of Chambers
- 6-04-08

“It’s Our Turn” Pitch Might
Not End With Hillary Defeat
- 5-28-08

Prime Nebraska Political
Battleground This Year:
2nd Congressional District
- 5-21-08

The 'Browning' of America:
How Far Will It Go?
- 5-14-08

Obama ‘Stumbling’ To Victory? - 5-08-08

"Does Homebuyer Bailout
Reward the Irresponsible?"
- 4-30-08

"Was McCain, Not Clinton,
The Real Winner in Pennsylvania?"
- 4-25-08

"Cleaner Skies Advice For Gore:
Pressure On China, More Nuke
Power If Jane Fonda Will Allow It"
- 4-16-08

"Why The Big Fuss Over
Tiny Gasoline Cost Increase?"
- 4-09-08

"Quietly, Nebraska Yields
All-Public-Power Status"
-  4-02-08

"Obama’s ‘Historic’ Speech Left
Big Questions Unanswered "
-  3-25-08

"Overweight Moore Produces
“Sicko,” Finds An Ally In Creighton Doctor"
-  3-19-08

"Bush Sings, Praises Press
At Annual Gridiron Dinner"
-  3-12-08

"Obama Would Be Least
Formidable Opponent For McCain"
-  3-7-08

"‘Charisma’ Not Always a Good Thing" -  2-27-08

"Could Citizen ‘Packing Iron’
Have Stopped Von Maur Killings?"
-  2-20-08

"Obama’s Style Without Substance
Exciting, But Is It Presidential?"
-  2-13-08

"Barack Obama and John McCain:
A Major Contrast in Egos? "
-  2-07-08

"‘First Black President’
Emphasis Wouldn’t Help Obama"
-  1-30-08

"Kimball Lauritzen: Think of Her
As Joyous on Some New Dawn"
-  1-23-08

"What 'Tough' Election Contest
Was Ben Nelson Talking About?"
- 1-16-08

"Overhyped New Hampshire
Offsets Overhyped Iowa"
- 1-10-08

"Coach Bo Now Well Welcomed;
Time to Start Thinking of NU Wins"
- 1-2-08

"Words of Jews Most Moving
To Me This Christmas Season"
- 12-25-07

"AT LAST: TALK OF PREVENTION
JOINS MOURNING OVER KILLINGS"
- 12-19-07

"Killer Is Getting Just What He Wanted;
Let's Add Anger and
Action to Our Sorrow"
- 12-12-07

"Bo Brings Emotional Fire to NU Job;
Scary News: Huckabee Gain in Iowa"
- 12-05-07

"Callahan Outclasses Loudmouth Critics;
Tom Osborne Treated Him Fairly"
- 11-28-07

"A Thought for Thanksgiving Day:
Tell Them You Love Them"
- 11-21-07

"Callahan Critics: Is Loss to CU
The Only Way to Satisfy Them?"
- 11-16-07

"Crybaby Fans, Sports Commentators
Distracting Players From Their Job?"
- 11-09-07

"Did Bob Kerrey’s Decision Avoid
the Likelihood of Defeat?"
- 11-02-07

"Nosy Congress Makes
Three Bad Calls"
- 10-26-07

"Is This The Way to Run UNL´s
Athletic Program?"
- 10-19-07

"Right Decision Could
Help Both Fair, UNL"
- 10-12-07

"Stop Trying To Make God A Republican" - 10-6-07

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As I See It
Harold W. Andersen is a retired Publisher and Chief Executive Officer of the Omaha World-Herald Company. Full biography.

A number of you have told me that you don’t look forward to reading the column on your computer screen. That’s not necessary if you have a printer. Print out the column and take it with you to the breakfast table or wherever else you choose to read printed material. (You can also call up past columns in case you missed them.)

And, if you haven’t already done so, let us know your e-mail address so that we can send you a weekly reminder when a new column is available.

First, a reminder:

Attractive, hardbound copies of “Life With Marian”—a book which a good many readers have said they would be interested in owning—are still available for purchase (for $22.50) at The Bookworm in Countryside Village.  If more convenient, you can now also send a check payable to Harold W. Andersen for $26.66 (includes tax and postage) and mail to me at P.O. Box 27347, Omaha, NE, 68127.  A copy will be sent by return mail.

Massachusetts Gave Kennedy
Significant Second Chances

September 3, 2009

Today’s column is based on the assumption that my readers—or at least a majority of you—would be interested in a broader perspective than that which dominated the flood of news media coverage which followed the death of Senator Edward Moore “Ted” Kennedy eight days ago. 

Herewith one journalist’s effort to present some of the other side of the Kennedy story:

It might be said that during his lifetime, Ted Kennedy had four significant second chances.  (A good many less-favored mortals don’t get a single second chance to right their lives following serious adversity.  But, remember we’re talking about a Kennedy here, a member of the closest thing to a royal family which a mixture of relentless ambition, Irish charm and favorable media attention can produce in a democracy.)

The first of these significant second chances came when Harvard University readmitted Ted Kennedy as a student after he had been expelled for cheating as a sophomore.  He subsequently graduated from Harvard and the University of Virginia Law School.

The second second chance could be said to be the fact that the voters of Massachusetts reelected him after his shameful conduct in connection with the death of Mary Jo Kopechne.  (It might also be said that a second chance was given to him by the authorities who charged him only with a misdemeanor, leaving the scene of an accident, when the possibility of a manslaughter charge existed.  More about Kennedy’s sorry performance in connection with Mary Jo Kopechne’s death later in today’s column.)

Massachusetts forgave his shameful conduct and continued to reelect him.

‘Brief, Inept’ Campaign Mainly Wounded Carter

The third significant second chance followed Kennedy’s effort to deny fellow Democrat Jimmy Carter a second term in the White House.  The Washington Post said that his “brief, inept campaign managed mainly to wound Carter.” 

The low point of Kennedy’s campaign to replace Carter as the Democratic nominee in 1980, it is generally agreed, was a one-hour interview with CBS journalist Roger Mudd in November, 1979.  Columnist Mark Schields commented that Kennedy’s muddled, stammering response to Mudd’s questions made Yogi Berra sound like a statesman.

Again, the voters of Massachusetts gave Kennedy another chance and continued to reelect him to the Senate after he had helped contribute to fellow Democrat Carter’s defeat.

Kennedy’s fourth and final significant second chance resulted from his marriage to Victoria Reggie at age 60. 

A variety of news accounts credited Reggie, whom he married in 1992, with Kennedy’s moral and political redemption during the last 17 of his 77 years. 

‘Kennedy Sat Mute, Silenced By Palm Beach Scandal’

A New York Times story said that when Kennedy and Reggie met in 1991, it was “the worst year of Senator Edward M. Kennedy’s life since Chappaquiddick, 22 years earlier. 

 “With scandal unfolding that spring in Palm Beach, Fla., involving his nephew, the senator was humiliated by tabloid photos that showed him in a nightshirt after their boys’ night out, an aging, dissolute playboy.”

In 1991, the Times story continued, Kennedy was engaged in a difficult struggle over a major civil rights bill and later that year, with accusations of sexual harassment dominating the Clarence Thomas Supreme Court confirmation hearings, “there was the televised spectacle of Ted Kennedy, long a champion of women’s rights—sitting mute and powerless, silenced by the Palm Beach case.” 

The Washington Post described Kennedy’s 1991 “low point” in these words:  “…a particularly unflattering portrait of him as hard-drinking and juvenile was emerging at the rape trial of his nephew, William Kennedy Smith.  After years of public carousing, Ted’s popularity in his own state was plummeting, and he was in danger of losing his seat to a Mormon businessman named Mitt Romney.” 

This picture was changed dramatically as Kennedy took advantage of this most significant second chance and married the remarkable woman named Victoria Reggie.

Behavior At Chappaquiddick Was Shameful
But Authorities Went Easy On A Kennedy

A full account of the Chappaquiddick story took up 7-1/2 pages of a printout of the Wikipedia Internet encyclopedia.  Following are highlights which were not included in the brief references in the Kennedy obituary stories which I read:

Kennedy, some friends and his driver were attending a small party on Chappaquiddick Island—a reunion for a group of six women who had worked in Kennedy’s brother Robert’s 1968 presidential campaign.  Kennedy asked his driver for the keys to his Oldsmobile and left at approximately 11:15 p.m., Mary Jo Kopechne accompanying him, leaving her purse and hotel key at the party.

Kennedy turned down a dirt road leading to a bridge (Kennedy later said he had made a wrong turn) and the car went off the bridge into a shallow tidal pond.  The car overturned.  A diver later testified that in his expert opinion, Kopechne could have survived for up to two hours in a pocket of air trapped in the overturned vehicle and could have been rescued if help such as his had been summoned promptly.

But Kennedy, who said he dove repeatedly in efforts to free Kopechne from the overturned vehicle, swam across a narrow bay and checked into his hotel room where he was staying in Edgartown during his participation in a sailing regatta. 

The hotel records showed that Kennedy complained at 2:55 a.m. that he had been awakened by a noisy party.  By 7:30 a.m. the next morning, he was talking “casually” to the winner of the previous day’s sailing race.  The overturned car was reported to authorities around 8:20 a.m. by two fishermen.  At 10:00 a.m., Kennedy finally entered the police station in Edgartown and dictated a statement, which was given to the police.

At an inquest into Kopechne’s death, Judge James A. Boyle concluded that Kennedy’s turn onto the dirt road had been intentional, a speed of 20 mph as Kennedy testified to was at least negligent and possibly reckless, and “there is probable cause to believe that Edward M. Kennedy operated his motor vehicle negligently…and that such operation appears to have contributed to the death of Mary Jo Kopechne.”

The district attorney chose not to charge Kennedy with manslaughter, despite Judge Boyle’s conclusions.

Penalty Was Equivalent Of Legal Wrist Slap

Instead of manslaughter, Kennedy was charged with leaving the scene of an accident after causing injury.  He was sentenced to two months in jail, the statutory minimum for the offense, but the sentence was suspended.  His driver’s license was suspended for a year.

Kennedy went on national television the evening after Kopechne became trapped and he swam away.  He said his wife (his first, the mother of his three children) did not accompany him to the regatta because of health reasons.  He also said that he was not under the influence of liquor and his conduct following the accident “made no sense to me at all.” 

He went on to ask the people of Massachusetts to decide whether he should resign.  Ironically, he concluded by quoting a passage from his brother John F. Kennedy’s book, “Profiles In Courage.” 

Massachusetts voters gave him another chance.

In addition to the one-paragraph references to the Chappaquiddick/Mary Jo Kopechne story, scattered elsewhere in the flood of sympathetic coverage of Kennedy’s life and final illness were some examples of journalistic candor which helped balance the portrayal of President Barack Obama’s choice as “the greatest United States senator of our time.”  (The Washington Post compared Kennedy favorably to legendary senators Daniel Webster and Henry Clay.)

Among those relatively few comments which put Ted Kennedy’s troubled and controversial public and private lives in more balanced perspective were these: 

A Wall Street Journal story which described Kennedy as “one of the most polarizing political figures of his time.”

Well down in a generally favorable story dealing with Kennedy’s career, a reader could find reference to Kennedy as “one of the most divisive figures in American politics.”

‘Liberal Lion’ Achieved Less Than He Sought
But Is ‘Indelible Part Of Our Political History’

A Wall Street Journal column spoke of “a viciously unfair, effective attack” on Judge Robert Bork when he was nominated for the Supreme Court in 1987.  The same column included this language: 

“It is one of the mysteries of American politics how the cool centrism of John Kennedy became the passionate liberalism that is taken now as the Kennedy family legacy.”

I thought that conclusions reached by two publications with widely different political philosophies—The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times—captured in relatively few words the essence of Ted Kennedy, the “liberal lion”, and his success—or lack of it—in that role.

A Journal column concluded with the comment that Ted Kennedy’s “dream of an ever more expansive federal government seems not to have inspired as many Americans as he hoped.”  But “the man who served longer in a U. S. Senate than all but two others is now an indelible part of our political history.”

And the concluding paragraph of a generally favorable article in The Times read like this: 

“But if the art of government did not redeem Mr. Kennedy, it radiated him and the liberalism he personified.  At a time when government itself had fallen to disrepute, Mr. Kennedy applied himself diligently to its exact discipline and wrested whatever small victory he could from the machine he had learned to operate so well.  Whether or not his compass was finally true, he endured as a battered, leaky vessel through which the legislative arts recovered some of their lost glory.”

* * *

To finish on a lighter note, one of my favorite cartoons:

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