Thursday, Jan. 21, 2010

Ted Kennedy

In a life already darkened by the tragic deaths of his brothers, the Chappaquiddick episode was a constant shadow over Senator Ted Kennedy's career. In 1969 the young Senator from Massachusetts was being considered as a possible candidate for President, but that fell apart after a car accident on Chappaquiddick Island in Martha's Vineyard. Late on the night of July 18, Kennedy was driving with Mary Jo Kopechne, a young staffer from his late brother Robert's presidential campaign, when his car went off a bridge. Kopechne drowned, but Kennedy escaped, and his ensuing behavior — he fled the scene and didn't call authorities until the next morning — left lingering questions over his culpability in the accident, although he never faced criminal charges. While any presidential ambitions were dashed, Kennedy easily won re-election to the Senate in 1972 and served until his death in 2009. To the end of his days, Kennedy rarely addressed the tragedy; in his posthumously published memoir, True Compass, he admitted only to making "terrible decisions" and having an acute sense of guilt.