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Teddy Kennedy - the man who would have been President

PUBLISHED: 15:06 27 August 2009 | UPDATED: 16:24 07 September 2010

The best night editor I ever worked with, a big bear of a man called Dan Kinney, had a favourite phrase: You couldn t make it up. It could be applied to the entire Kennedy dynasty. The assassination of JFK left its mark, indelibly. Like everyone else

The best night editor I ever worked with, a big bear of a man called Dan Kinney, had a favourite phrase: ''You couldn't make it up.'' It could be applied to the entire Kennedy dynasty.

The assassination of JFK left its mark, indelibly. Like everyone else, I still remember where I was when I heard the news, though only 10 at the time. Nor was this the first Kennedy tragedy - the oldest son, Joseph, died in a plane crash over the English Channel during World War Two.

Soon after JFK's death came the murder of brother Robert while running for president. One of Robert's sons would die in a ski-ing accident, another from a drugs overdose. In 1999 John F Kennedy Jnr crashed his aeroplane into the sea, killing himself and his wife.

There have been other calamities too numerous to mention, and now comes news of the death of Teddy Kennedy, the Father of the Senate.

I stood him up for lunch once because my father had died two days earlier. He understood, of course. The Kennedys are well-acquainted with family grief. But we were to meet several times because of his fascination with Ulster, the breeding ground for a dozen US Presidents.

We were on opposite sides of the Irish argument but got on well and he invited me to apply for a Fulbright scholarship at Harvard University and have our next dinner date at the Kennedy home. He seemed full of warmth and humanity, but Chappaquiddick was always at the back of my mind. I suspect it was the same with everyone he met, which is why he never made it to the White House.

So farewell then, Teddy Kennedy - the man who would have been President, but for a single unforgettable and unforgivable indiscretion. You couldn't make it up.

Geoff Martin


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