Hans Remembers- 50 years ago today- Friday July 18, 1969- Chappaquiddick.
- On the evening of Friday July 18, 1969 Senator Ted Kennedy hosted a party, a reunion of sorts for some campaign workers for his brother Bobby’s ill-fated Presidential campaign of 1968. Six men were there and six women ‘the Boiler Room Girls.” At around 11:15pm Kennedy and one of the women Mary Jo Kopechne, 28 left with Kennedy. To make a long story short- Kennedy drives off the bridge, escapes from the car and leaves Kopechne in the car do die. Kennedy said he tried to rescue her. Kennedy then goes back to his hotel room. He doesn’t report the accident until 10 AM the next morning ten hours after the accident. Earlier that morning at 8am a fisherman and his son saw Kennedy’s submerged car and reported it to the authorities who came- had the car pulled out of the water and discovered. Kennedy’s answer to why he didn’t report the accident in a timely matter-he was “in shock.”
President Richard Milhous Nixon when he found out what had happened immediately sent an investigator quietly to Chappaquiddick to get all the information he could get. Nixon no doubt had been tossing and turning in The White House over the potential of having to face Senator Kennedy in the 1972 Presidential election. After losing to JFK in ’60 the Kennedy’s were always in his nightmares. Kennedy of course being a Kennedy got off with a slap on the wrist. If this was the average John Doe would he have been so lucky? He was also fortunate that there was an even bigger story going on at the time- Apollo 11 going to the Moon. I think as a presidential candidate Kennedy was always reluctant. He did run for the democratic nomination in 1980 against President Carter but lost. He would serve in the U.S. Senate until his death ten years ago. If he had been a better driver there is a good chance he could have been president. The lack of judgment that night in waiting 10 hours to report the incident in a lot of minds disqualified him from ever getting their vote. If this is how he reacts to a crisis- how would he react to a major crisis as POTUS?
Often overlooked in this story is the death of Mary Jo Kopechne- who made the fatal mistake of getting in the car with Kennedy. She was 28. She was her parents only child. They received $141,000 in an insurance settlement from Kennedy’s insurance company but that wouldn’t bring their daughter back. They never received an apology from the son of privilege. Maybe he didn’t think he had done anything wrong?