An Email about called "The Last of the Kennedy Dynasty"- Truth! Fiction! & Unproven!

An Email about called “The Last Kennedy Dynasty”- Truth! Fiction! & Unproven!

Summary of eRumor:

A forwarded email about Senator Edward Kennedy called “The Last of the Kennedy Dynasty” criticizing the main stream media for omitting certain facts of his past.  The email lists various items in the history of Ted Kennedy.

The Truth:

This eRumor began circulating more than a year prior to Senator Edward (Teddy)  Kennedy’s death in August, 2009, but it was revived after he died on August 25, 2009 as a result of brain cancer.

Serving in the US Senate for the state of Massachusetts from 1962 to 2009, Kennedy championed many controversial and liberal issues from abortion to immigration reform during his political career.

According to a May 20, 2008 NPR article, after a seizure the Senator was diagnosed with a malignant t glioma, a form of brain cancer in May of 2008. The article said that treatment for this form of cancer usually involves surgery, radiation and chemotherapy.

Some of the points of this email appear to have been taken from a page about Senator Kennedy on the Who’s Who website Some other comments might have been added by others who forwarded this email.    Click for NBDB site. 

Let’s look at them one-at-a-time::

1: Kennedy was caught cheating at Harvard and expelled twice, once for cheating on a test, and once for paying a classmate to cheat for him.   Truth! and Fiction!

Adam Clymer is a journalist who covered Washington for the New York Times who had been writing about Ted Kennedy since he played football for Harvard in the 1950’s. Clymer wrote a book called, Edward M. Kennedy: a biography based on personal interviews with the senator as well as published reports.

According to Clymer’s book, Kennedy was expelled only once from Harvard, not twice, and he never paid a classmate to cheat for him.

According to Clymer, it was in 1951 that Kennedy had a fellow student named Bill Frate take his Spanish exam. Kennedy was concerned his C -minus grade could result in his removal from the Harvard football team. Clymer said, there was no monetary compensation for the cheating episode and as a friend, Frate agreed to take the test in Kennedy’s name. Frate was recognized by a graduate student who proctored the exam when the exam was handed in. The two were reported to and shortly afterwards expelled from the university. They were told that they could reapply in one or two years if their conduct improved. Ted returned to Harvard after 1953 where he worked harder in his studies and earned an A minus in Spanish and eventually graduated with a Bachelors degree in 1956.

2. Kennedy enlisted in the Army for four years.  His father, Joseph P. Kennedy, former U.S. Ambassador to England, intervened to have his enlistment shortened to two years.  Truth! 

According to Clymer’s book, Kennedy spent three or four weeks figuring out what he was going to do after his expulsion from Harvard and on June 25, 1951 enlisted in the U.S. Army.   The Korean War was already a year old and the young Kennedy, unaware of the student deferment policy signed induction papers for a four year term.   Having already lost a son in World War II, His father, Joseph Kennedy, was able to intervene in Teddy’s behalf and reduced his hitch in the Army by two years.

3. While in the Army, Kennedy was assigned to Paris but never advanced beyond the rank of Private.  Truth! 

Clymer said that, after basic training at Fort Dix, in New Jersey Private Kennedy was assigned to Camp Gordon in Georgia for three months for military police training. There were a couple of incidents that resulted in a lot of latrine duty for Kennedy. Among them was a incident when on a cold night he tried to keep warm using a can of Sterno, a fuel made from jellied and denatured alcohol. It caused a fire when his sleeping bag ignited. Once again, at the intervention of Joe Kennedy, the Private was assigned as part of the honor guard for the headquarters of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in Paris, France. Kennedy received an honorable discharge from the US Army in 1953 at the rank of Private.

4. While attending law school at the University of Virginia , he was cited for reckless driving four times.  Unproven!  

Kennedy did attend the University of Virginia Law School in Charlottesville. His biographer said that Kennedy “drove wildly and got several speeding tickets.” The book also said that he once out ran a police car.

5. In 1964, Kennedy was legally intoxicated when his plane crashed.  He hospitalized for several months. The results of the blood alcohol test remained a “state secret” until in the 1980’s.   Fiction!

This makes it sound as though Kennedy was the pilot and that he was flying drunk. He was a passenger, however, and alcohol had nothing to do with either Kennedy or the accident.

The plane crash happened on June 10, 1964. Kennedy, his wife Joan, Indiana Senator Birch Baye, Senator Baye’s wife, and Kennedy’s administrative assistant, Ed Moss, were being flown Washington D.C. to West Springfield, Massachusetts, the location of the Democratic Party Convention. The plane struck the ground during an instrument approach and a later investigation blamed the crash on pilot error.

Kennedy was seriously injured in the crash, spent months in rehabilitation, and was plagued with back pain for the rest of his life. The eRumor said that Kennedy had been illegally impaired by alcohol during this crash but Ted Kennedy but he was not the pilot of this plane.   His Blood alcohol level would have no meaning in any investigation by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), CAB or or National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) .

6. On July 19, 1969, Kennedy attended a party on Chappaquiddick Island in Massachusetts and later  drove Mary Jo Kopechne home.  The car ran off the bridge, flipped, and into Poucha Pond and Kopechne drowned.   It is widely assumed Kennedy was drunk.   Kennedy was given a suspended sentence of two months.  Truth! and Unproven!

This is one of the most famous incidents in Kennedy’s life. It is true that a car that he was driving went off a bridge on Chappaquiddick Island on July 19, 1969 and that a young woman named Mary Jo Kopechne died in the accident.

According to Clymer’s book, it was a hot July day on the island and Kennedy had competed in the annual Edgartown Regatta, a sailboat race, earlier and
finished in ninth place out of 31 boats. After the race, Kennedy returned to his hotel room, soaked his back in a hot bath and drank a rum and coke. He later went to a reunion of Robert Kennedy campaign workers which was also attended by Mary Jo Kopechne who worked for Robert Kennedy as a legislative aide. It is thought that Kopechne might have been feeling ill from exposure to the sun from the day’s events and Kennedy left the party with her after 11:00 PM to take her back to the inn where she was staying.

The fatal accident took place a mile and a half from the cottage where the party was still taking place. The Oldsmobile that Kennedy had been driving went off the bridge on the right side, overturned and landed in the pond where it quickly submerged under the water. Kennedy managed to escape the sinking vehicle but Kopechne didn’t

According to published reports, Kennedy stumbled back to the cottage and two other people from the party then went to the scene of the accident and tried to rescue Kopechne, but without success. One of the lingering controversies of the incident is that no one reported it to authorities. Police learned of it from two fishermen the next morning who happened upon the scene.

The following day, when the police arrived on the scene and began their investigation Kennedy told them that he was not sure how he had escaped the submerged car and that he dove down to to the point of exhaustion see if his passenger was still in the car.

Clymer wrote that the crash left Kennedy with a moderate brain concussion which resulted in memory failure and confusion.

Kennedy was charged with leaving the scene of an accident to which he pleaded guilty. Kennedy testified in the inquest that he had only drank two drinks at the party. He was sentenced to 2 months jail time which was suspended.


8. Kennedy has held his Senate seat for more than forty years, but his accomplishments seem scant- Fiction!

According to the web site, a civil project that tracks congressional and senate activities, Senator Kennedy Edward Kennedy sponsored 380 bills from Jan 14, 1991. and Aug 6, 2009.     At the time of this investigation 273 of these bills are still in committee and 24 have been successfully enacted. Kennedy also co-sponsored 2047 bills during this period.  

Kennedy was widely regarded as one of the most powerful senators of his time and below are some of his recently sponsored bills:

S. 982: Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act Reported by Committee May 20, 2009
S. 277: Serve America Act Reported by Committee Mar 18, 2009
S. 1405: Longfellow House-Washington’s Headquarters National Historic Site Designation Act Introduced Jul 7, 2009
S. 1152: Healthy Families Act Introduced May 21, 2009
S. 1410: Time for Innovation Matters in Education Act of 2009 Introduced Jul 8, 2009
S.Res. 36: An original resolution authorizing expenditures by the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and  Pensions.
Introduced Feb 11, 2009
S. 1580: Protecting America’s Workers Act Introduced Aug 5, 2009
S. 1411: Keeping PACE Act Introduced Jul 8, 2009
S. 619: Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act of 2009 Introduced Mar 17, 2009
S. 560: Employee Free Choice Act of 2009 Introduced Mar 10, 2009
S. 540: Medical Device Safety Act of 2009 Introduced Mar 5, 2009
S. 697: CLASS Act Introduced Mar 25, 2009
S. 909: Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act Introduced Apr 28, 2009
S. 882: Drug and Device Accountability Act of 2009 Introduced Apr 23, 2009
S. 717: 21st Century Cancer ALERT (Access to Life-Saving Early detection, Research and Treatment) Act Introduced Mar 26, 2009


9. Kennedy was prime instigator and author of every expansion of an increase in immigration, up to and including the latest attempt to grant amnesty to illegal aliens. Not to mention the pious grilling he gave the last two Supreme Court nominees- TRUTH!

According to a August 27, 2009 CBS News article, immigration reform was a lifelong cause for Senator Kennedy and he “dramatically changed the United States’ immigration system with the Immigration Act of 1965, which eliminated the quota system and allowed immigration from Latin America and Asia to dramatically increase.”   The article said, “He also worked to pass the Refugee Act of 1980, and in 1986 he supported a measure that allowed nearly three million undocumented immigrants to gain legal status and established penalties against employers who hired illegal immigrants. He supported the Immigration Act of 1990, which increased the number of immigrants that could enter the country, including those who could enter with permanent job-related visas and temporary worker visas.”

In 2007 Senators Kennedy cosponsored the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007 which failed passage.

Because of timing of the original eRumor, it is believed that the two Supreme Court nominees mentioned were Chief Justice John G. Roberts (2005)  and Samuel A. Alito (2006).  Both justices were appointed by President George W. Bush, choices which Kennedy did not approve.

The issue of abortion was the key focus in the confirmation hearing of Judge Alito.   In his closing comments during the hearing, Senator Kennedy said, “He didn’t back away one inch from his view that a woman’s right to make her own reproductive decisions is NOT protected under the Constitution.  He didn’t back away from his criticism of the principle of ‘one person, one vote.'” 

Kennedy added, “And on the cases he decided, in case after case, we see legal contortions and inconsistent reasoning to bend over backwards to help the powerful. He may cite instances in thish he thinks he helped the little guy. But the record is clear that the average person had a hard time getting a fair shake in Judge Alito’s courtroom.”

After the death of William Rehnquist on September 23, 2005,  President George W. Bush nominated John G. Roberts to serve as Supreme Court Chief Justice. 

During Robert’s confirmation hearings for Chief Justice, Senator Kennedy said, ” I do not believe that John Roberts has met the burden of proof necessary to be confirmed by the Senate as Chief Justice of the United States. Sadly, there is ample evidence in John Roberts’ record to indicate that he would turn the clock back on this country’s great march of progress toward equal opportunity for all. The White House has refused to release documents and information from his years in the Reagan Administration and in the first Bush Administration that might indicate otherwise, but without those records, we have no way of knowing.”

Kennedy added, “John Roberts’s nomination are trying to force a nominee to adopt our “partisan” positions, to support our “causes,” to yield to our “special interest” agendas.”

Kennedy also said, “Our Senate responsibility to provide advice and consent
on Supreme Court Justices and other nominations is one of our most important functions. The future and the quality of life in this nation may literally depend on how we exercise it. If we are merely a rubber stamp for the President’s nominees, if we put party over principle, then we have failed in this vital responsibility. Even more important if we go along to get along with the White House we will be undermining the trust the Founders placed in us, and we will diminish the great institution entrusted to our care. Every thoughtful and reasonable “no” vote is a vote for the balance of powers and for the Constitution, so we must never hesitate to cast it when our independent consciences tell us to do so.”

Roberts attended Harvard Law School where he was managing editor of the Harvard Law Review and after passing his bar exam, served as a law clerk for William Rehnquist.   Roberts was confirmed as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and later swore into office of the President of the United States another former editor of the Harvard Law Review, Barack Hussein Obama. 

10. He is known around Washington as a public drunk, loud, boisterous and very disrespectful to ladies- Mostly True!

Kennedy had a well-known problem with alcohol and in his earlier years was described by some as a “womanizer” and a “drunk.”

Biographer Edward Klein said Kennedy was “…like the playboy of the Western world.” Klein said that Kennedy could get attention in his family by being the clown.

CBS News correspondent Michelle Miller described Kennedy as a prolific elder statesman on one side and a brazen bad boy on the other.” She also said that after Kennedy’s first marriage to Joan Kennedy ended in 1980, his reputation with women and booze spun out of control.

Klein described a drunken incident in Alaska in 1969. He said Kennedy began yelling “Es-ki-mo Power!” and saying things like “They’re going to shoot my ass off the way they shot Bobby…” After the trip John Lindsey of Newsweek called Kennedy family friend Lester Hyman and told him about the Alaska incident. He said “Your friend Ted Kennedy is in a lot of trouble psychologically.”

He was known for his boisterousness and loudness. He was famous for spontaneously bursting forth into song—and at a high volume.

In 1991, Time magazine called him a “Palm Beach Boozer” and GQ magazine described him as “an aging Irish boy clutching a bottle.”

Most credit his second marriage to Victoria Reggie Kennedy in 1992 as marking a change for the better in his life.

updated 09/01/09