Where have all the good men gone…
Ever stop and think about the past? Well let’s do that right now. Think back say… 40 years ago (as of July 18th ’09)- and for a lot of you, this might have been before your time (mine too, don’t feel bad). However, there’s no harm in educating yourselves – especially when it comes to those who lead. Those who are in positions of power. Those who think we have to answer to them. Elected officials.
Let me start by introducing you to Mary Jo Kopechne.
Kopechne, born in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, was the only child of insurance salesman Joseph Kopechne and his wife, Gwen. The family moved to New Jersey when she was an infant. She attended parochial schools growing up.
After graduating with a degree in business administration from Caldwell College for Women in New Jersey in 1962, Kopechne moved to Montgomery, Alabama, to teach for a year at the Mission of St. Jude as part of the Civil Rights Movement. In 1963, she moved to Washington, D.C., to work as secretary to Florida Senator George Smathers before subsequently becoming secretary to New York Senator Robert F. Kennedy following his election in 1964. There she worked as a secretary to the senator’s speechwriters and as a legal secretary to one of his legal advisers. Kopechne was a loyal and tireless worker for Robert Kennedy, in March 1967 having stayed up all night at his Hickory Hill home to type a major speech against the Vietnam War as the senator and his aides such as Ted Sorenson made last-minute changes to it.
During the 1968 U.S. presidential election, she helped with the wording of Robert Kennedy’s March 1968 speech announcing his candidacy. During his campaign, she worked as one of the “Boiler Room Girls”, an affectionate name given to six young women who worked from a central, windowless location in Kennedy’s Washington campaign headquarters. They were vital in tracking and compiling data and intelligence on how Democratic delegates from various states were intending to vote; Kopechne’s responsibilities included Pennsylvania. Kopechne and the other staffers were politically savvy; they talked daily with field managers and also served as conduits for policy statements being distributed to strategically-located newspapers.
Kopechne was devastated by the June 1968 assassination of Robert Kennedy and could not return to work on Capitol Hill. However, as her father later said, “Politics was her life, and in December 1968 she used her expertise to gain a job with Matt Reese Associates, a Washington, D.C., firm that helped establish campaign headquarters and field offices for politicians and was one of the first political consulting firms.She was on her way to a successful professional career.
She lived in the Georgetown neighborhood with three other women She was a devout Roman Catholic with a demure, serious personality, rarely drank much, and had no reputation for extramarital activities with men.
Mary Jo Kopechne
Okay, so she worked for Kennedy. So what? – I’ll tell you what:
On July 18, 1969, Kopechne attended a party on Chappaquiddick Island, off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, held in honor of the Boiler Room Girls. It was the fourth such reunion of the Robert Kennedy campaign workers.
Kopechne left the party at 11:15 p.m. with Robert’s brother Ted Kennedy, after he by his description offered to drive her to catch the last ferry back to Edgartown where she was staying. Kennedy stated he made a wrong turn on the way and came upon a narrow, unlit bridge without guardrails. Kennedy drove the 1967 Oldsmobile Delmont 88 off the bridge and it overturned in the water. Kennedy extricated himself from the submerged car but Kopechne died, after what Kennedy said were several diving attempts to free her.
Kennedy contacted several aides that night, but failed to report the incident to the authorities until the car and Kopechne’s body were discovered the next morning. Kopechne’s parents said they learned of their daughter’s death from Ted Kennedy before he reported his involvement to the authorities, and that they only learned he had been the driver through wire press releases some time later.
A week after the incident, Kennedy pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of an accident after causing injury. He received a two month suspended sentence. On a national television broadcast that night, Kennedy later said he was not driving under the influence of alcohol nor had he engaged in any immoral conduct with Kopechne.
The Chappaquiddick incident and the death of Kopechne became the grist for numerous books as well as a fictionalized treatment by Joyce Carol Oates. Questions remained about Kennedy’s timeline of events that night, about his actions after the accident, and the quality of the investigation and whether official deference was given to a powerful politician and family. The events surrounding Kopechne’s death damaged Kennedy’s reputation and are regarded as a major reason that he was never able to mount a successful campaign for President of the United States.
According to his inquest testimony, Kennedy made a wrong turn onto Dike Road, an unlit dirt road that led to Dike Bridge (also spelled Dyke Bridge). Dike Road was unpaved, but Kennedy, driving at “approximately twenty miles an hour”, took “no particular notice” of this fact, and did not realize that he was no longer headed towards the ferry landing. Dike Bridge was a wooden bridge angled obliquely to the road with no guardrail. A fraction of a second before he reached the bridge, Kennedy applied his brakes; he then drove over the side of the bridge. The car plunged into tide-swept Poucha Pond (at that location a channel) and came to rest upside down underwater. Kennedy later recalled that he was able to swim free of the vehicle, but Kopechne was not. Kennedy claimed at the inquest that he called Kopechne’s name several times from the shore, then tried to swim down to reach her seven or eight times, then rested on the bank for around fifteen minutes before returning on foot to Lawrence Cottage, where the party attended by Kopechne and other “Boiler Room Girls” had occurred. Kennedy denied seeing any house with a light on during his journey back to Lawrence Cottage.
In addition to the working telephone at the Lawrence Cottage, according to one commentator, his route back to the cottage would have taken him past four houses from which he could have telephoned and summoned help; however, he did not do so. The first of those houses, referred to as “Dike House”, was only 150 yards away from the bridge, and was occupied by Sylvia Malm and her family at the time of the incident. Malm later stated that she had left a light on at the residence when she retired for that evening.
Why is all of this important, DangerB?
Well, I’ll tell you.
How much will the Senate Health Committee’s healthcare plan cost?
$1 trillion over 10 years. Ballpark. That’s the approximation from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. Their report and a letter sent tonight to Sen. Kennedy and the HELP committee is here.
CBO also estimates that while millions of uninsured Americans would gain health insurance through the plan, they guesstimate that millions of other would lose their current employer-provided health insurance – up to ten percent. This will not go down well with the President and Democrats’ promise that under any healthcare reform, “if you have something you like, you keep it.”
We can also expect MORE CBO numbers tonight or tomorrow. Don’t forget that the Health Committee bill is one of two percolating through the Senate. The other bill is arguably more important; it comes from the Finance Committee and will attempt to pay for healthcare reform.
CBO estimates that under the Health Committee Bill , once the people gaining insurance were offset by the people losing it, there would be a net addition of 16 million people with health insurance.
All these numbers are not much more than ballpark guesstimates, particularly since major aspects of the bill – whether there will be a requirement for employers to either offer health insurance or pay into a fund and whether there will be low-cost publicly-run health insurance option or whether there will be an expansion of Medicare – have yet to be worked out.
Because the glorious Messiah in Chief wants to dedicate his trainwreck of a health care plan as a “memorial”/”tribute” to the one and only Ted Kennedy. That old sack of cancer infested shitballs.