A Chappaquiddick Reckoning At Last? Before the Clintons were the Kennedys… By Steven Hayward.
I paid no attention to the fact that Hollywood was producing a biopic of Ted Kennedy’s famous “accident” at Chappaquiddick in 1969, and would have assumed that it was a typical gauzy pro-Kennedy puff piece if I had known. But Variety magazine, the main trade journal of Hollywood, offers a review that not only says that the forthcoming movie Chappaquiddick is suitably harsh on Teddy, but that he — and the Kennedy reputation — deserve it:
The film says that what happened at Chappaquiddick was even worse than we think. Kopechne’s body was found in a position that implied that she was struggling to keep her head out of the water. And what the film suggests is that once the car turned upside down, she didn’t die; she was alive and then drowned, after a period of time, as the water seeped in. This makes Edward Kennedy’s decision not to report the crime a clear-cut act of criminal negligence — but in spirit (if not legally), it renders it something closer to an act of killing.
But this is just the beginning. The reviewer, Variety chief film critic Owen Gleiberman, piles on: …
Forty-eight years later, let’s be clear on what the meaning of Chappaquiddick is. Ted Kennedy should, by all rights, have stood trial for involuntary manslaughter, which would likely have ended his political career. The fact that the Kennedy family — the original postwar dynasty of the one percent — possessed, and exerted, the influence to squash the case is the essence of what Chappaquiddick means. The Kennedys lived outside the law; the one documented instance in American history of an illegally stolen presidential election was the election of John F. Kennedy in 1960. He lost the race to Richard Nixon, but his father sealed the presidency for him by manipulating the vote tallies in Illinois. That’s the meaning of Chappaquiddick. too.
I don’t say any of this as a right-wing troll. But those are the facts, and they are facts that liberals, too often, have been willing to shove under the carpet. …
As a movie, “Chappaquiddick” doesn’t embellish the incidents it shows us, because it doesn’t have to. It simply delivers the truth of what happened: the logistical truth of the accident, and also the squirmy truth of what went on in Ted Kennedy’s soul. The result may play like avid prose rather than investigative cinema poetry, but it still adds up to a movie that achieves what too few American political dramas do: a reckoning.
I hope Gleiberman has good life insurance, and checks his car’s ignition before he starts up every day from now on. Just to be safe, don’t park next to Oliver Stone. …
The fact that the Democratic Party still reveres Ted Kennedy tells you everything you need to know about how low that party has fallen.
The truth can be told about a leading family of the Democrats, but only 60 years later.