Mary Jo Kopechne, Chappaquiddick, and the REAL Cover-up
CHAPPAQUIDDICK, MA: Tuesday’s earthquake in Massachusetts has brought to mind an incident now over 40 years old. Some visitors to our YouTube channel have reminded us about it with their comments on our video “The Truck That Ran Over Socialism.” It seems appropriate that I comment on the tragic drowning of Mary Jo Kopechne as I was there shortly after it happened on July 19, 1969. I believe there is a lesson yet to be learned regarding that tragic evening, a lesson worthy of our attention here at the NIP.
The Drowning. While vacationing on Martha’s Vineyard Ted Kennedy attended a party. He left the party early with a young girl, Mary Jo Kopechne, a staff member who served on his brother Robert’s 1968 presidential campaign. Kennedy took the unusual step of taking the car keys from his chauffeur, leaving his driver to fend for himself. Kennedy, driving back home with Mary Jo, left a paved road and made an abrupt turn onto a bumpy dirt road leading to a secluded beach. It was a dark night, with less than 1/4 moon for light. Kenney drove a considerable distance until he inadvertently drove off a bridge over what amounted to a drainage ditch for Poucha Pond. The car capsized and Kennedy escaped while Kopechne drowned.
I visited Chappaquiddick not long after the accident back in the summer of 1969. As an eye witness to the conditions of the roads at the time, I can personally testify that there is no way that Kennedy was “lost” or made a bad turn. The road was very bumpy (a condition not reported by anyone as far as I know). This road was barely a one lane dirt track. It was such a contrast from the 2 lane paved road that no one could have made the mistake of following that route and thinking it was leading back to the ferry for Edgartown.
Kennedy drove some distance on the dirt road before reaching the bridge, a distance long enough that both he and Mary Jo would have realized that they were on “the wrong road.” It took Kennedy to a beach that, even on the sunny day when I was there, was very secluded. That midnight Kennedy knew it would be deserted.
The Attempted Cover-up. After the drowning, instead of heading to the nearest house 150 yards away and calling for help, Kennedy’s thoughts appeared to revolve around how he could cover it up. After escaping from the flooding car, Kennedy hiked a considerable distance and swam across the dangerous 500 foot channel between Chappaquiddick and Edgartown to return to his room at the Harborside Inn. The next morning Kennedy appeared for breakfast, strolling casually, chatting about the previous day’s sailing race, acting like nothing was amiss.
From the NIP’s perspective Kennedy was prevaricating about every aspect of the incident, from his wrong turn, his failure to call for help, his failure to report, and his acting role the following morning. He at the time saw himself as a presidential contender and did not want to be known as a married man taking a young woman out to a secluded beach for some hanky-panky, getting her killed in the process.
Although 1969 was well into the sexual revolution, when Kennedy climbed out of the ditch at Poucha Pond he knew immediately that America would not like to waken the next morning hearing about his sexual exploits. We will never know what plans were hatched during that night to cover up the drowning, nor what derailed their plans, but it is fair to assume that the next morning Kennedy thought he was going to get away with covering up his involvement in Kopechne’s death.
The Real Cover-up. We of course think that Senator Kennedy has paid the price for this tragic incident. It was an accident, after all. Had he actually called for help would it have even helped? John Farrar, the diver who pulled her out thought she could have been saved. If true, one wonders if Kennedy actually has paid the price. Our point is that Kennedy should have called for help, and in all likelihood would have, had he been thinking of Mary Jo’s life instead of his own career.
Forget Kennedy’s attempt at covering it up. Instead, call your attention to the real cover-up. Back then, and for 40 years since, the press, the influential, and those on the left, have all conveniently whitewashed or totally ignored Kennedy’s attempt at covering up his involvement in the drowning. After all, Ted Kennedy had so much to offer, and his agenda was so important.
America’s politicians and the influential seem to think the rules apply to the rest of us, but not to them. Congress writes laws mandating how we must live while specifically exempting themselves. This pattern of condescending behavior continues today. Pelosi knows that America is overwhelmingly against her healthcare bill, but her thirst for power over one-sixth of the American economy cannot be quenched. Pelosi vows to pass it even in light of Brown’s victory in Massachusetts.
Had Senator Kennedy sought help that dark midnight, had he come clean, things might have been different for him. If today’s Congress would come clean and quit their pattern of deceit, things might be different for us.