NYT Pens Hypocritical Tribute to Bork-Basher Ted Kennedy, 'Bipartisan' Believer in Comity and Democracy

March 31st, 2015 11:16 AM

Reporter Julie Hirschfeld Davis penned a hypocritical tribute to the late Sen. Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts in Tuesday's New York Times: "Praising a Senate Mentor, and the Example He Set."

Davis was marking President Obama' speech in Boston at the opening of the Edward M. Kennedy Institute, previously hailed in theTimes.

Not even one "liberal" label managed to squeak in to Davis's tribute to (yawn) "the lion of the Senate," nor did a word of the dark side of the Kennedy mystique, like Chappaquiddick. The most glaring omission of all from the Times' encomiums: Sen. Kennedy's vicious attacks on Reagan's Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork.

After Bork's nomination in 1987, Kennedy took to the Senate floor and thundered: "Robert Bork's America is a land in which women would be forced into back-alley abortions, blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters, rogue police could break down citizens' doors in midnight raids, schoolchildren could not be taught about evolution, writers and artists could be censored at the whim of the Government, and the doors of the Federal courts would be shut on the fingers of millions of citizens."

You wouldn't learn any of that from Davis on Tuesday, who paid tribute to Kennedy via Obama's goopy speech:

President Obama on Monday condemned the demise of bipartisan compromise in American politics that he said had prompted voters to turn away in bitterness and “disgust,” using the dedication of the Edward M. Kennedy Institute to call for a new era of consensus-building.

“We live in a time of such great cynicism about all our institutions, and we are cynical about government and about Washington most of all,” Mr. Obama told about 1,800 people in a speech outside the institute, which was constructed to help repair the reputation of the United States Senate, where Mr. Kennedy represented Massachusetts for 47 years.


In a 26-minute speech by turns hopeful and mournful that evoked both Mr. Kennedy’s thundering Senate oratories and his sometimes impish antics, Mr. Obama paid tribute to the man often called “the lion of the Senate” while acknowledging how the institution he revered had changed.

“It’s a more diverse, more accurate reflection of America than it used to be, and that is a grand thing, a great achievement, but Ted grieved the loss of camaraderie and collegiality, the face-to-face interaction,” Mr. Obama said. “He regretted the arguments now made to cameras instead of colleagues, directed at a narrow base instead of the body politic as a whole, the outsized influence of money and special interests, and how it all leads more Americans to turn away in disgust and simply choose not to exercise their right to vote.”

Kennedy's supposed lamentations against "argument to cameras" would have been a prime lead-in for a balanced journalist to use the Bork example as rebuttal. Davis, who has previously fawned over Obama himself, is not that journalist.

Nor does Mr. Obama’s style or temperament bear much resemblance to that of Mr. Kennedy. Where the president is aloof, disciplined and disdainful of the social aspects of serving in Washington, the senator was warm and often boisterous, and he excelled at the art of feuding by day but socializing by night with political adversaries.

Still, Mr. Obama and Mr. Kennedy forged a bond that helped propel the president to the White House, one that he acknowledged on Monday.

“He was my friend; I owe him a lot,” Mr. Obama said.

(The story's text box: "Recalling an era of compromise and collegiality, and calling for more of it.")

But Mr. Obama said that while colleagues knew Mr. Kennedy as “somebody who was willing to take half a loaf and endure the anger of his own supporters to get something done,” his brand of political courage was a disappearing trait.

“Fear so permeates our politics, instead of hope,” the president said. “We fight to get these positions, and then don’t want to do anything with them.”

Mr. Obama said he hoped that the institute would inspire people to emulate Mr. Kennedy, and as he briefly toured the Senate replica after his remarks, he told a group of visiting students that he hoped they would learn about democracy there.

Kennedy's supposed love of open debate and democracy wasn't visible in 1983 when he floated a secret deal with the Soviets to influence the 1984 elections in favor of the Democrats, as recently recalled by Sean Davis at The Federalist:

According to Soviet documents unearthed in the early 1990’s, Kennedy literally asked the Soviets, avowed enemies of the U.S., to intervene on behalf of the Democratic party in the 1984 elections. Kennedy’s communist communique was so secret that it was not discovered until 1991, eight years after Kennedy had initiated his Soviet gambit.