Thursday morning, when I saw MSNBC's morning host Dylan Ratigan fret that the death of Senator Edward Kennedy, the most polarizing politician of the last 40 years, would supposedly lead to even less bi-partisanship, I put it down to the usual rose-colored obit-talk.
When he called Ted Kennedy a "bridge to the other side," I idly thought, bad choice of words, Dylan buddy, don't you people go over these things before airtime? Then Dylan repeated his ill-chosen metaphor, "Who will be that bridge now? "
Are you kidding? I know MSNBC's ratings are nowheresville, but you don't even have a staff for show-prep?
KLEIN TO WAMU RADIO HOST KATY KAY: I don't know if you know this or not, but one of his favorite topics of humor was indeed Chappaquiddick itself. And he would ask people, "Have you heard any new jokes about Chappaquiddick?" That is just the most amazing thing. It's not that he didn't feel remorse about the death of Mary Jo Kopechne, but that he still always saw the other side of everything and the ridiculous side of things, too.
That's not troubled youth, checkered past, libertinism or even shamelessness.
That is sociopathic behavior.
But since I hesitate to use Edward Klein as a completely authoritative source: Here's Senator Kennedy, himself, telling a Chappaquiddick joke on the floor of the Senate.
SENATOR KENNEDY TO ATTORNEY GENERAL NOMINEE MUKASEY: Similar to many of my colleagues and many American citizens, I am deeply troubled by Judge Mukasey's evasive answers about torture. He has repeatedly refused to acknowledge that waterboarding--the controlled drowning of a prisoner–is torture. Instead, he has said only that torture is unconstitutional without being willing to say whether waterboarding is torture.
As the record makes clear, courts and tribunals have consistently found waterboarding to be an unacceptable act of torture. As Malcolm Nance, a former master instructor and chief of training at the U.S. Navy Survival Evasion, Resistance and Escape School, said of waterboarding: For the uninitiated, it is horrifying to watch and if it goes wrong, it can lead straight to terminal hypoxia. When done right it is controlled death."
What could be a sicker joke than having Mary Jo Kopechne's chauffeur lecturing a dedicated public servant on the agonies of simulated drowning? How many Americans should be sacrificed to keep Khalid Shaikh Mohammed from having sore sinuses for a day?
As Rush Limbaugh pointed out, comparing waterboarding to what happened at Chappaquiddick is like calling an airplane landing at an airport a "controlled crash."
But Senator Kennedy was not content with telling Chappaquiddick jokes on this day. No, in order to score points against George W. Bush, he decided that he needed to slander American intelligence agents doing the difficult — and sometimes ugly — work to protect his right to party at his Palm Beach compound:
Waterboarding is an ancient and barbaric technique. In the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, interrogators of the Spanish inquisition used it. It was used against slaves in this country. In World War II, it was used against our soldiers by Japan … This is the company the Bush administration embraces when it refuses to renounce waterboarding.
Here's the reputed "lion of the Senate," lyin' in the Senate. The Japanese criminals we prosecuted were primarily hanged for mass murder, with water torture a charge included in the bill of particulars. Second, the Japanese water torture involved the pumping of water through a hose into prisoners until their insides burst and they died. The only comparison is that water was involved.
Only one person who is either the subject or the deliverer of the above speech has been involved in killing someone with water.
It would have been nice this week on MSNBC, to see even 1% of the sympathy wasted on waterboarded mass murderer Khalid Shaikh Mohammed expressed for Mary Jo Kopechne.