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The Unrepentant Traditionalist
September 1, 2009

No Holy Grail: The End of Camelot
by Frank Creel

ARLINGTON, VA — Nil nisi bonum de mortuis spake the Romans. So, may God rest the soul of Ted Kennedy.

In the summer of 1958, I grandly informed my parents that our next president would be a Catholic, Jack Kennedy of Massachusetts. My analysis was simple: Kennedy had too much charisma for two-time-loser Adlai Stevenson, staid ol’ Estes Kefauver, and cornpone Lyndon Johnson to compete with. His lock on the Democratic nomination was virtually assured — and, after eight years of the Republicans, people would slide toward the Democrats in 1960.

My folks were old enough to remember Al Smith. They were Catholic converts in Bible Belt Oklahoma. They knew the landscape. They smiled indulgently at my bold prediction. Their skepticism was not entirely unfounded; the fulfillment of my prediction did require some electoral legerdemain in Mayor Daley’s Chicago wards.

I confess. I was a Kennedy fan before I was old enough to vote. But Jack Kennedy was dead before I could vote for president. In the 1964 election I voted neither for Goldwater nor Johnson because I was overseas in the Peace Corps, being swept along in the dreamy tides of Camelot.

Then I got swept along to what the Army called a “hostile fire zone” (for being inside of which I was paid an additional $65 per month). My Camelot died crouching behind a paddy dike in Quang Ngai Province.

So, heeding the Roman decree, I must switch my focus because I can think of nothing else nice to say about the Kennedy boys.

I suppose I could add that Teddy just fell victim to that O tempora o mores thing. Teddy was pro-life at the beginning of his career, at least until 1971. Then along came Roe v. Wade, against which no high official of the labor movement, despite the fact that almost all of them were nice Irish Catholics skipping along hand-in-hand with nice Jewish boys, could muster the courage to protest, or the time, perhaps, having to spend every waking moment, you see, fending off the sinister attempts of gangsterism to infiltrate their noble cause, which was practically synonymous with the Democratic Party.

Then, of course, seeing the Solid South begin to crumble, the party had no choice but to start assembling a new coalition of the disaffected. Chief among these were the radical feminists who had all taken a blood oath to sacrifice their first-born on the altar of the god Roevwade and had taken to comparing themselves to fish and men to bicycles.

Fame has almost always led to wealth, to be sure, but modern America has raised that path to the gold standard. Democrats were first with the acumen to mine it politically. Celebrities, especially those wild and crazy funbunnies in Hollywood, rapidly evolved into a principal funding stream for the new coalition. Many of these celebrities were soon testifying on Capitol Hill to help our representatives fashion legislation appropriate to the trials and tribulations of our time.

Who in his right mind would want to get caught disagreeing in public with Sissy Spacek? One could really get burned.

Finally, although buying votes is an ancient tradition (one of those things Romans were not supposed to mention in connection with the deceased), Franklin Roosevelt had the genius to plop it down square in the lap of the federal government. By doing so, he bought — with funds stolen from a minority of citizens — the gratitude of a majority of citizens. Roosevelt’s Democratic successors, good learners that they are, have honed the practice into a fine art in which the thievery is no longer visible beneath the veneer.

I trust you see my point. Teddy was just a victim of all this. I am not criticizing him, just the sum total of social circumstances in which he was forced to wend his way as a successful politician. With all that momentous change in the air, had he stuck to his guns, had he led a Catholic crusade against the murder of 50 million babies, he would have wound up, not as the distinguished Senator with more than 46 years of service in that august body, but as just another defeated politician like Al Smith.

Oh yes, Ted Kennedy was an avid and accomplished sailor. He trimmed his sails with precision and tied up safely in port. He earned a very proper send-off, with a nice funeral with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, with Cardinal O’Malley in respectful attendance, with Yo-yo Ma playing his cello during the presentation of the gifts, with Placido Domingo singing Panis Angelicus, and burial in Arlington Cemetery, not far from the eternal flame of his dead brother, who had once so inspired me.

With all my heart I pray that Susan Graham’s prayer in singing the Ave Maria had already been answered in Senator Kennedy’s case — that Mary had indeed been praying earnestly for his soul in hora mortis suae, and that, as in the sweet prayer of St. Alphonsus Liguori to Our Mother of Perpetual Hope, Jesus, our Judge, was appeased, by one prayer of Mary, toward the soul of Ted Kennedy in that hour.

Nil nisi bonum de mortuis. This is not about Ted Kennedy. This is about the American people who have not yet died. Let us then remember that a little up the east coast in Philadelphia, the night before Kennedy’s funeral, one of the finest athletes ever to play professional football was struggling — two years away from the game and $20 million in debt — to make a comeback, trying not to get booed as he decided between throwing the ball or tucking it in and running. Fit punishment for the horrendous crime of cruelty to dogs. Redemption comes hard to Michael Vick.

Is this a great country or what?

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The Unrepentant Traditionalist is copyright (c) 2009 by Frank Creel and the Fitzgerald Griffin Foundation. All rights reserved.

Frank Creel, Ph.D., has been a columnist for the Potomac News, Woodbridge, Virginia. His op-ed articles have been published in the Northern Virginia Journal, the Washington Examiner, The Washington Times, and the New York City Tribune. In 1992, his A Trilogy of Sonnets was published pseudonymously by Christendom Press.

See a complete biographical sketch.

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