Sunday, September 27, 2009

True Compass by Edward M. Kennedy

I've started reading Sen. Kennedy's memoir. Early on, he writes "Another powerful ethic that Dad taught us was to respect the privacy of others and to ignore whatever disrespect of privacy might come our way." During a birthday party for Ted, one of the kid guests, wandered to another room and made a phone call about how bored he was at the party. Ted was passing by the room and overheard this. His father caught him and took him aside. Ted's quote of his father:

" 'Never listen to a phone call that isn't meant for you. Never read a letter that isn't meant for you. Never pay attention to a comment that isn't meant for you. Never violate people's privacy. You will save yourself a great deal of anguish. You might not understand this now, but you will later on.' "

Good advice.


  1. I remember when I lived up in Lowell, Massachusetts, for a year. That was a big turning point for me as I was fresh out of college and was pretty conservative in my views, but here I was in the land of Kennedy and got quite a few lectures in the office on politics. For the most part, I chose to hold my ground, but in time I found myself becoming ever more liberal. I guess in some backhanded way I have Teddy to thank for that.

  2. Well then I thank Teddy Kennedy too!

  3. I don't know how much credit I could give to him, but I grew up in a Republican family. I would have voted for LBJ if I'd been old enough to vote, but my views weren't more fully formed until 1980. I'd registered to vote in NJ as an independent in 1972, but when Reagan started his campaign for President, I registered here in NYC as a Democrat. With Reagan as president, my views became more and more liberal.

    Guess I'd have to thank Reagan.

  4. I would draw the line there Marti!

  5. I hate to admit it, but I voted for Reagan. I was only 18 at the time, so I chalk it up to having grown up in a very conservative Northwest Florida. 1984 was my turning point. I probably have Jesse Jackson to thank as much or more than Teddy for turning me toward the Dems, as I was utterly captivated by his campaign. I had a much harder time wrapping my thoughts around Mondale though, who struck me as too much Democratic establishment. In '88 I was a big Jackson supporter and was very disappointed when he lost the nomination, even moreso when Dukakis essentially turned his back on Jackson and the grass roots support he had generated, siding with Nunn and other "Blue Dogs" in the South, so I voted for some Socialist on the DC ballot while I was living in Washington. I guess by this point I could no longer consider myself conservative in any way.

  6. No, if you supported Jackson, you were at long last headed in the right direction. I had friends who voted for Reagan thinking he was going to somehow be different.... He was different alright!

    I was also a big Jackson supporter in 88. He came to Montana and I took my baby daughter out to meet him. I had friends who worked for him during the campaign. Not sure what kind of president he would have been, but he sure had a great message. And I liked the whole idea of a rainbow coalition. Still do, since it finally seemed to come together for a brief moment.

  7. I'll confess that I voted for Nixon in '72 for my first time vote at age 21.

  8. Well then if you all are willing to make those dark confessions, I'll confess I voted for Nader in 2000 -- but it was in Montana where most non-Republican votes don't count anyway. Not 2004, though, as little as I liked Kerry.

    In fact, I worked so hard for Kerry that my little republican county went for him and Edwards... I became convinced that working for a candidate really can make a difference.

  9. Since 1980, I've voted for the Democratic presidential candidate each time. It hasn't been out of party loyalty. None of the Republicans were acceptable.

  10. Barbara Ehrenreich was born in Butte, Montana and learned this from her mother: "Never vote Republican and never cross a union picket line."

    This is the advice I have passed on to my daughter, particularly since she's never been a member of a union (yet).

    I usually vote Democratic but they can never count on me when there's a good third party, green, or whatever candidate. I even voted against a really good Democrat when there was an excellent alternative because the incumbent was such a hypocrite on guns (for) and the environment (against) just to get elected -- when you knew that wasn't what he really believed because he was very liberal otherwise.

    I have worked hard for some Democrats, local and national, but there have only been a few I've actually liked. There was uh... hmmm..... oh, yeah Jackson! And, sad to say, Edwards. What a sad Greek sized tragedy his life has turned into. And I did once vote for Kucinich in a primary even though I didn't think he was personally a very good candidate -- but again liked his message.

    I voted for Clinton the first time because of Robert Reich and the second time because of his wife. I felt she was the real deal in those days. I don't know what I would have done had she gained the nomination -- she was such a hawk (again, I think, just to get elected.... but that may be her nature too).

    So let's see it has been Jackson, Edwards, and Obama as a second choice, but worked really hard for him (and Kerry) since so much was at stake. And I personally really like Obama, which hasn't been true of the others. Not bad for a lifetime in a democracy to have one president you like out of the bunch. I may not agree with him much right now but really like him and his wife and trust him up to a point, which is a huge leap of faith for me.

  11. Finished Kennedy's book a couple of days ago. Well worth it -- not great but I'm glad to have read it even though I couldn't get it for kindle. Interesting chapters about Carter, Reagan and Clinton.

    At least from TK's point of view, Carter dragged his feet on health care. Wanted something far less than what TK wanted and for it to be incremental. Nothing passed, as we know. TK says that Carter didn't listen to proposals of his and others.

    There is something here about the nephew, William Smith, who went on trial for rape. TK had invited WS and Patrick (TK's son) to a bar and WS left with the woman who later accused him of rape. He went on trial and was acquitted. He was 30-yr. old med student at the time.

    Also goes over Chappaquiddick. Before reading this I'd always thought that Mary Jo Kopechne had worked for HIM, but she was one of 6 women who had worked for RFK and were at the Vineyard for a reunion.

    TK goes over most major issues he was involved with during the long period that he was in the Senate, including supreme court senate confirmations (particularly those he didn't vote to confirm, Watergate, health care, etc.

    Naturally there is a lot about family members and it was good to read his opinions and not some 3rd party's about what went on in the family. No dirty laundry here!

  12. The writing style makes the pages go by without being dumbed down. I think Ron Powers is to be credited for this. It was breezy but smart. Nice change from my reading of Wilderness Warrior, to be sure.

  13. Thanks, Marti. Ron Powers wrote a biography of Mark Twain that I really enjoyed.