Even almost 50 years after the incident, the fact that a movie like “Chappaquiddick” got made and was yet released to theaters is remarkable. The event that happened in July 1969, in the middle of the mission of Apollo 11, in which Senator Teddy Kennedy drove a car off a bridge into a pond at Chappaquiddick Island, and subsequently left a young campaign worker named Mary Joe Kopechne to die was a blight on the legend of the celebrated political family. Kennedy’s actions during and after the accident ended his hopes of ever becoming president of the United States, much to the benefit of the country.

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The cover-up was as horrible as the crime

As the movie depicts, Kennedy left Kopechne trapped in the submerged vehicle caught in an air pocket to die by inches for hours while he walked back to his compound to consult with his staff about how to fix the problem he suddenly found himself in.

He mostly avoided any opportunity to rescue the 28-year-old woman, which he could have quickly done had he sought help immediately.

The solution that Kennedy and his people arrived at was to cast the senator as the victim. The idea would seem breathtaking in its audacity from the point of view of the 21st Century and the #MeToo era. However, the reader had to remember that just a year ago Teddy Kennedy had buried his older brother Robert whose own quest for the presidency had been cut down by an assassin. Six years before Chappaquiddick President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. The forgotten brother, Joe Kennedy, perished during World War II. And now this happened to the last brother, Teddy. The dead woman was just collateral damage in another Kennedy tragedy.

The ‘Liberal Lion of the Senate’

Teddy Kennedy got off with a suspended sentence for leaving the scene of an accident.

However, the trajectory of his life and political career was altered forever. The plan to run for president in 1972 was, of course, shelved. When Kennedy did try for the Oval Office in 1980, he was thrashed at the hands of the sitting president, Jimmy Carter, who went on to be beaten in turn by Ronald Reagan.

With the hopes of the revival of Camelot doomed, Kennedy and his handlers started to craft the legend of the “Liberal Lion of the Senate,” of the senator as a crusader for leftist causes. In reality, Kennedy could better be described as a liberal jackal, engaging in mean-spirited campaigns and unseemly debauchery almost to the time of his death.

The movie now shines a light on that sordid legacy, revealing Teddy Kennedy as a man with little intelligence and fewer morals. An ordinary man would have gone to prison for what he did. Teddy Kennedy had to content himself with being in the Senate for life, though denied the one office he craved more than anything.

Chappaquiddick,” by the way, has a strange warning attached to it for “historical smoking.” For a movie that depicts the death of a human being at the hands of a powerful man and the subsequent effort to cover it up, that is a strange thing indeed.