And it’s way more complicated than anyone imagined.
Senator Edward M. Kennedy died Tuesday; he was 77. He first served in the Senate in 1960 when appointed to fill his brother President John F. Kennedy’s seat, after the elder Kennedy was elected to the Presidency. Leader, statesman, legislator, and apparently a pretty good swimmer, “Teddy” was easily re-elected term after term until his death. His brothers John and Robert were both assassinated, while the oldest Kennedy brother, Joseph P. died in a plane crash during World War II. There were nine Kennedy siblings in all, most of whom died young as can be seen from this chart.
Ted Kennedy’s most lasting legacy may be that he lived to get old, as the plethora of dead siblings, neices, nephews, uncles, aunts, and cousins piled-up over his lifetime. Kennedy himself cheated the grim reaper numerous times by surviving plane crashes, automobile accidents, and avoiding being elected president. Others who rode-along with the lifelong Democrat weren’t so lucky: aide Edward Moss died in a 1964 plane crash, while campaign worker Mary Jo Kopechne drowned in a 1969 car accident. Kennedy served in Paris during the Korean War, where he was lucky to avoid various venereal diseases.
Kennedy made one run for the Democratic presidential candidacy in 1980, but dropped-out of the race due to the extreme probability of “health problems”. This was just one of a string of disappointments in his life, starting when he was kicked-out of Harvard for cheating on a Spanish test: “I was on the football team – I thought we were supposed to cheat” he may have said. Over the years he struggled with alcohol, drug, sex, and food addictions, as well as an unfortunate tendency to jowliness and a marked inability to drive safely at night.