The Tale of Two BridgeGates: Ted Kennedy v. Chris Christie
The political frenzy over Chris Christie and the closing of lanes across the George Washington Bridge is astounding. I don’t know if Christie is lying. He’s a politician, so it’s most likely that he is.
How can BridgeGate get so much attention when Benghazi and the IRS scandals (and more too long to list here) have nearly been declared as non-scandals, much to do about nothing? There’s even a website dedicated to Obama’s scandals: Obama Scandals List. We all know why. Democrats are held to a lower standard.
So how does BridgeGate compare to ChappaquiddickBridgeGate? They both are about bridges but with many, many differences.
The Chappaquiddick story is so well known that the words “Ted Kennedy” and “Chappaquiddick” are inseparably linked for all time. But there are many people who don’t know the story. 2014 will be the 45th anniversary. This means that most voters today weren’t even alive when Kennedy’s bridge incident occurred.
Kennedy was most likely driving under the influence of alcohol on the evening of July 18, 1969, when he drove his car off Dike Bridge and into Poucha Pond, leaving Mary Jo Kopechne, a young campaign worker, to drown.
Kennedy survived politically because of the sentiment the people had for his two assassinated brothers and the fact that he could bring home a lot of political pork to Massachusetts. If Ted had not been a Kennedy he would have been drummed out of office after the facts became known about what happened to Kopechne. He left the scene of the accident, passed homes with their lights on as he made his way back to his hotel, and did not immediately report the accident. Two fishermen reported the submerged car at 8:20 the next morning. A diver was brought in, and Kopechne’s body was discovered around 8:45 AM.
The diver, John Farrar, later testified at the inquest that Kopechne’s body was pressed up in the car in the spot where an air bubble would have formed. He interpreted this to mean that Kopechne had survived for a time after the initial accident in the air bubble, and concluded:
“Had I received a call within five to ten minutes of the accident occurring, and was able, as I was the following morning, to be at the victim’s side within twenty-five minutes of receiving the call, in such event there is a strong possibility that she would have been alive on removal from the submerged car.”
Farrar believed that Kopechne “lived for at least two hours down there.”
Kennedy hoped to contrive a story that would put Kopechne in the driver’s seat and absolve him of criminal neglect for driving too fast for conditions and under the influence in the company of a young woman who was not his wife.
These types of things mattered in 1969, not so much today
Fortunately, no one would go along with this particular lie, although there was still a massive cover-up by the Kennedy political machine to protect the powerful Senator and their own jobs. The Kennedy operatives whisked the other “Boiler Room girls” — who had been with Kennedy and Kopechne at the Lawrence Cottage where the party was held — off the island and removed any evidence that the senator had been drinking.
In addition, there’s the fact that Kennedy’s expired driver’s license disappeared from the Massachusetts motor vehicle office.
Chuck Moss, a journalist for the Detroit News, gets it right in his review of Leo Damore’s Senatorial Privilege: The Chappaquiddick Cover-Up. Damore’s book “reveals the arrogance, the power and the corruption that permitted him to simply walk away into the future, where he can address a nationally televised Democratic convention [in 1988] — on the subject of public morals.”1
So the American media focus on closing lanes on a bridge while they ignore scandals that affect tens of millions of Americans every day. The bridge to our freedoms is being close, and the media are focused on a stupid and childish political stunt that took place last year.
What did Hillary Clinton say about the tragic deaths in Benghazi? “What difference, at this point, does it make?”
- Chuck Moss, “Author Offers Damning, Disturbing Look at Kennedy and Chappaquiddick Tragedy,” The Atlanta Journal and Constitution (August 28, 1988), 13M. [↩]