I notice that the New York Times has decided to collect remembrances of Ted Kennedy–including a piece by yours truly–in order to point out that in life, the late Senator was known for a number of controversial and demagogic statements, including, most infamously, his statement on the nomination of Robert Bork. Just in case you forgot what Ted Kennedy said at the time, both the Times and I excerpted Kennedy’s comment in our respective pieces:
Robert Bork’s America is a land in which women would be forced into back-alley abortions, blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters, rogue police could break down citizens’ doors in midnight raids, schoolchildren could not be taught about evolution, writers and artists could be censored at the whim of the Government, and the doors of the Federal courts would be shut on the fingers of millions of citizens for whom the judiciary is — and is often the only — protector of the individual rights that are the heart of our democracy… President Reagan is still our president. But he should not be able to reach out from the muck of Irangate, reach into the muck of Watergate and impose his reactionary vision of the Constitution on the Supreme Court and the next generation of Americans. No justice would be better than this injustice.
There is nothing even remotely true about this comment, as Ethan Bronner pointed out in his excellent book on the Bork nomination and its aftermath:
Kennedy’s was an altogether startling statement. He had shamelessly twisted Bork’s world view — “rogue police could break down citizens’ doors in midnight raids” was an Orwellian reference to Bork’s criticism of the exclusionary rule, through which judges exclude illegally obtained evidence, and Bork had never suggested he opposed the teaching of evolution…
Of course, the truth does not matter to a number of liberal bloggers and writers quoted in the Times piece, who believe that the ends justify the means when it comes to political rhetoric (in light of this, one does not comprehend, of course, why they are not more understanding of the use of terms like “death panels” when it comes to discussing health care reform. Sauce for the goose, and all that). Quite properly, the Times compares Kennedy’s rhetoric to that of Joe McCarthy’s, and I trust that the bloggers and writers in question who reside on the port side of politics will eventually realize that the anti-Bork tactics they applauded might come back to bite them someday. Summarizing the position of just about all of the liberal bloggers and writers on this issue, the Times correctly identifies as their representative, one Tristero, who–in the Times’s words–”knows that it can be proved that Kennedy relied totally on the facts, if only somebody else would actually go and find them.” All hail the Times for the proper and correct use of sarcasm and condescension towards truly deserving targets.
A note to David Frum, whose remembrance is cited at the end: Nice and heartwarming notes are lovely and all, but there is no excuse whatsoever for trying irresponsibly and without foundation to wreck an individual’s career by using one’s power as a Senator and as one of the the last surviving scions of a famous and powerful political dynasty to do so.