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Ted Kennedy: Epigraph for a Gangster’s Son


Many people deeply loved Ted Kennedy, and the whole Kennedy family. Like the Beatles, the Kennedys were held in the public’s supreme esteem. Also, like the Beatles, the Kennedys stood for self-indulgence, unbridled passion, profligacy, alcohol, drugs, narcissism, and irresolution. The Beatles preached sin, like the Rolling Stones, but the Kennedys lived it. Interestingly, the Kennedy’s preached patriotism, responsibility, even religion, if indirectly.

Perhaps more than any of them, Ted Kennedy had a troubled conscience. He and his brothers were the heirs of outright hoodlums, the sons of two generations of Irish gangsters in Boston, it must have been difficult to think of oneself as respectable. It must have been quite impossible to live as known hypocrites, loved and respected, knowing that they were little better than street bums with dirty money. Ted struggled with it. Bobby struggled with it. And John suffered from it. The Kennedy brothers were really quite miserable, sad personalities. Crime, sex, alcohol, drugs, immorality, adultery, irresolution, murder, assassination, all the accoutrements of gangster life. Unions, societies, and other disguises of gang behavior, were all part of the Kennedy family.

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