It can't be argued that the Patrick Kennedy adventure on wheels is being ignored by the media. But part of the coverage has been suffused in a bit of overweening Kennedy-dynasty sympathy. Washington Post reporter/columnist Dana Milbank, who danced a jig of mockery in orange hunter clothes over Dick Cheney's shooting accident, wrote in Saturday's Washington Post about the "miserable character" who suffered after the crash:
Kennedy tried to ignore the din of shouted questions as he walked to the door, but he couldn't avoid the woman in the front row who asked if he would resign. He shook his head. "I need to stay in the fight," he said. Then the latest victim of the Kennedy Curse disappeared. On the decorative bookshelf behind the lectern where he spoke, there was still a copy of the Warren Commission's report on his uncle's assassination.
The media mob, expecting to duel with a feisty Kennedy who would deny wrongdoing, instead found a miserable character. Before the congressman's appearance, jokes about Chappaquiddick, Ambien and methadone filled the room. After the appearance, some felt bad for him that his father, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), didn't join him. Others said the return to rehab would douse the story. "It's a get-out-of-jail-free card," one producer predicted.
It's bad enough that all the addiction here is treated gingerly as a "disease" and not irresponsible misbehavior, but then to attach assassinations and other tragedies to this mishap, with words like "the Kennedy curse," is betraying that supposedly cynical reporters are feeling Patrick's pain. In a news article headlined "An Heir to a Legacy of Tragedy -- And Misfortune," Shailagh Murray and Juliet Eilperin worried over Kennedy's addictions as a mere "health problem," a "malady."
Kennedy, boyish-looking at 38 with his mop of red hair, has battled drug dependency and other health problems throughout his life. He suffers from chronic asthma, and while in his twenties he endured a 12-hour surgery to remove a tumor from his spinal column, requiring months of recovery time.
But the most persistent malady has been manic depression, which fostered addiction problems that trace to cocaine abuse during his teenage years.
Rep. James Moran, another Irish Democrat, is brought in for more sadness over that Kennedy curse. "He's had his struggle with a life he didn't ask for but he has to accept," Moran said.