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Sunday, August 30, 2009

The pukefest continues

Somebody forgot to tell somebody that Teddy Kennedy was never President, because for the last four days his supporters have been carrying on as if he was, doing everything but having him lie in state at the Capitol Rotunda.

Somebody definitely forgot to tell the New York Times, the front page of which has been dominated by mawkish tributes for the past four days.

For those of you who don't subscribe -- and I am ashamed to admit that I do -- the following excerpts, from a top of the fold, four column wide article in today's paper, written by Dan Barry, will show how little you're missing (italicized writing mine):

The nation said a final farewell on Saturday to Edward M. Kennedy, who used his privileged life to give consistent, passionate voice to the underprivileged for nearly a half-century. He was the only one of four fabled Kennedy brothers to reach adulthood, and he was remembered for making the most of it. (Joe Jr. wasn't really fabled, and only became famous long after his death for having been a Kennedy; and Teddy was more fabulist than fabled.)

Along the rain-dappled roadways of Boston in the late morning, and then in the sweltering humidity of Washington in early evening, people waited for the fleeting moment of a passing hearse so that they could pay respects to the man known simply as Ted. At the United States Capitol, where Mr. Kennedy had served for so long, his wife, Victoria Reggie Kennedy, stepped out of a limousine to receive hugs, bow her head during prayers, and to hear the singing of "America the Beautiful." (This makes it sound as if Victoria was practically a First Lady; in fact the woman was nearly invisible during the 15 years they were married.)

The gray rainy day began with a funeral Mass at a working-class Roman Catholic church in Boston where the senator had sometimes sought comfort, without entourage or advance notice. Where he once reflected among the hush of empty oak pews, there now sat hundreds gathered in his honor, including President Obama; three of the four living Presidents; dozens of former dignitaries and members of Congress; and, of course, people so familiar to Americans simply because they are Kennedys.

And it was during that portion of the Mass, when prayers of hope are shared, that his grandchildren, nieces and nephews stepped up to the microphone to express once more Ted Kennedy's political and human desires:

That human beings be measured not by what they cannot do but by what they can do. (Doesn't "can" for some human beings imply "cannot" for others?) That quality health care becomes a fundamental right and not a privilege. That the old politics of race and gender die away. (And that they be replaced by the new politics of race and gender, which emphasize those two identities far more strongly.) That newcomers be accepted, no matter their color and place of birth. (Think for a moment about what that means: that US citizenship is a birthright of everyone from everywhere in the entire world. The injection of the word "color," of course, means that you're racist if you're not for unlimited immigration.) That the nation stand united against violence, hate, and war. (Didn't Kennedy approve of the original invasion of Afghanistan? And who's not against "hate"? Yet everybody feels it from time to time, especially someone as partisan as Kennedy.) And, in echo of his famous words, that the work begins anew, the hope arises anew, and the dream lives on. (It is of course impossible to argue with such abstractions, which is why they make for great stump speeches, as Barack Obama demonstrated.)

"We pray to the Lord," each petitioner concluded.

And each time, the mourners answered as one, "Lord hear our prayer." (When has the Times ever been so positive about mixing church and state before?)

After Holy Communion, Mr. Obama delivered the eulogy for the man whose endorsement in the 2008 campaign was like the passing of a sword from Camelot, helping enormously in giving this country its first African-American president. (Ah, Camelot; there was no way that cliche was going to go unmentioned amidst all this purple prose by this obvious Kennedy groupie.)

That was just what was on the front page, believe it or not. The article continues, taking up all of page A14, using the same tone throughout. I will quote just the last paragraph:

Soon, seven riflemen were firing three volleys. Soon, the shadow of a bugler was playing "Taps," as heat lightning stunned the night sky. Arlington was dark; a long day had ended. But come Sunday morning, cemetary officials say, the green of the grass will be smooth again, the hole filled, the sod laid. Only then it will feature a white wooden cross made by the cemetary's carpenter, and a white marble marker that bears the name of another Kennedy, this one as distinct and as human as as accomplished as the others, a man in his own right.

EDWARD MOORE KENNEDY, it will say. 1932-2009

The New York Times is generally known as our newspaper of record. In fact, they've never bothered to hide their biases, but it usually isn't quite as blatant as this. I hope someone there is at least a little embarrassed by this fawning article, which sounds much more like a eulogy delivered by a family pastor who happens to be a frustrated poet.

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