Adam Clymer, former Times reporter and author of an approving biography of Sen. Ted Kennedy, is taking questions on the late Kennedy's legacy at nytimes.com. Surprisingly, Clymer addressed a hostile query early on:
Q: Why do we waste so much time adoring this immoral guy? He was just a political hack put into the office through the financial support of his father. We should be concentrating on the economy and the economic welfare of this country. Who cares about Edward Kennedy? Here in Nevada we could care less.
Clymer responded by expressing admiration for Kennedy's liberal policy achievements:
As to morality, that may be for a higher power than you or me to balance and judge. Certainly his behavior at Chappaquiddick was reprehensible, as he acknowledged.
But there was more to Ted Kennedy than his worst side. If you voted at 18 or were served Meals on Wheels or took advantage of a Medicare drug benefit, he helped get you there. Cheap college loans, children's health insurance, aid to the disabled and a variety of civil rights measures are also to his credit. I don't adore him, but I respect that record.
In his Kennedy biography, published in 1999, Clymer swooned even deeper, while being classlessly dismissive of the memory of Mary Jo Kopechne:
Yet his achievements as a Senator have towered over his time, changing the lives of far more Americans than remember the name Mary Jo Kopechne....He deserves recognition not just as the leading Senator of his time but also as one of the greats in the history of this singular institution, wise in its workings, especially its demand that a Senator be more than partisan to accomplish much.
Republicans never got off so easy with the notoriously sour Clymer, as the Media Research Center documented back in 2000 when President Bush unwittingly returned the favor bytelling Dick Cheney in front of an open mike that Clymer wasa "major-league a-hole."