Teddy Kennedy, His Death and Alcoholism
In combing the Internet about Ted Kennedy, there was very little written about his alcoholism. The New York Times obit made mention of his struggles with booze and although nobody seems to have much of an issue calling his first wife an alcoholic it seems that few wanted to do so with Ted himself. Sure there are lots of jokes about his legendary womanizing and being drunk in Washington hot spots, even that he was out drinking with his nephew the night William Kennedy Smith was charged with rape. Why is it so hard to say that Kennedy was an alcoholic?
When people die, they seem to be canonized. It’ a cultural thing to have respect for the dead. Clearly Kennedy was a complicated man with a tremendous burden on his shoulders and did much to change, in my opinion, for the better social fabric of America. He was accomplished as a politician, apparently a subpar student, and a revered paternal figure albeit far from perfect. To me he seems like the perfect alcoholic that didn’t find recovery. Imagine what this man could have accomplished had he not been so impaired by his drinking. One could argue that his drinking cost him, his family, and the country a presidency. No way to know what he could have done as President. I would suspect he could have done much considering he did much as a senator. It is largely agreed that had it not been for Chappaquiddick, Kennedy would have been President, carrying with him, the Kennedy name, prestige, feeling of optimism, and mystique. That died with the young woman he left at the scene of what seems to have been a drunk driving accident.
Far from perfect, Kennedy was an iconic American figure and yes, an alcoholic. Reading about him there seems to be no shame or hesitation to talk about his cancer, and yet there is still walking on eggshells around his alcoholism. I guess we tip toe around drunks, even after they are dead.