Bob Shrum Actually Describes Ted Kennedy as 'Entirely Principled'

Loyalty is one thing, delusion another.

Former Kennedy speechwriter and campaign operative Bob Shrum outdid himself on Ed Schultz's radio show Wednesday, gushing about Ted Kennedy and the maudlin video tribute to him at the Democratic convention. (audio) --

SCHULTZ: You were very close to Ted Kennedy, ran a number of his campaigns, you know the family very well, your impressions of last night.

SHRUM: Well, I mean, I thought it was a very moving evening. It's one of the few times that I can remember when you have a video that's not for the nominee where everybody stops and watches it. And I think it was a testament to what he stood for, what he meant to the party over a very long period of time, the fact that he was a liberal lion, entirely principled, but could actually get things done.

Liberals hear Shrum and nod in recognition. Conservatives cringe in disbelief.

Expect more such mush from Mr. Shrum over the next two months if for no other reason than he ran Ted Kennedy's campaign for re-election to the Senate in 1994 against Mitt Romney, making him a hot commodity among the chattering class.

With that in mind, how I wish that this bizarre liberal obsession with Romney placing the family dog in a pet carrier fastened atop his car for a family vacation 30 years ago was raised when Romney challenged Kennedy in 1994. (The revelation, from Romney's sons, emerged in a Boston Globe series on Romney during the 2008 campaign).

Had this been known in 1994, liberals would have condemned Romney for the rank insensitivity of strapping a pet carrier on a car roof. And conservatives would have responded with three words -- Mary Jo Kopechne. Who might still be alive had she gotten a ride with Romney instead. Because Romney would have left the party around 7 to get up early the next morning. Seeing how it was a weekend and he had lots to do around the house.

Shrum's hagiographic buffing brought to mind a more subtle form of Kennedy revisionism during the convention when NBC reporter Andrea Mitchell interviewed Kennedy's two sons, Ted Jr. and Patrick, shortly after the video tribute to their father was shown, Mitchell mentioning Shrum in her remarks --

MITCHELL: You know, I was there in 1980 as well, covering that convention, and those words, the dream will never die, written by Bob Shrum who's a longtime speechwriter for your father, that was a moment, that was terribly emotional. That was a crushing blow because you knew he would never be president.

TED KENNEDY JR.: Well, you know, but what dad did is he recognized, you know, I gave this my best shot and you know what I'm going to do? I'm going to go back to Washington and be the best United States senator that I can be. And you know what? That's exactly what he did.

Liberals in media want to believe this and the Kennedys are happy to play along, but it's not true -- Ted Kennedy did not abandon his ambition for the presidency after his humiliating defeat to Jimmy Carter in 1980. The proof of this is in the public record. 

In December 1985, the Associated Press ran a story about Kennedy's decision against running for president in 1988. One paragraph stands out --

It was the second time in three years that Kennedy, 53, has withdrawn from a presidential race. In 1982, he called a news conference in Washington to say that, though he wanted to be president, his "overriding obligation" was to his three children.

Two years after his "dream will never die" speech at the Democratic convention in 1980 and halfway through Ronald Reagan's first term, Kennedy clung to hope that the presidency was within his reach.

The AP story from 1985 also noted that Kennedy would announce his decision at a press conference in Boston. The possibility that Kennedy might run again was still seen as entirely plausible during Reagan's second term.

As it turns out, 1988 was probably Kennedy's last chance at a second presidential campaign, when another Massachusetts politician, Gov. Michael Dukakis, was nominated by the Democrats. Four years later, the party won with Bill Clinton, who went on to serve two terms.

It was not until the 1990s, after Kennedy remarried and put decades of carousing behind him, that this liberal lion became "the best United States senator" he could be.

Jack Coleman
Jack Coleman
Ex-liberal from People's Republic of Massachusetts