Archive for Friday, May 23, 2008

Respect for Kennedy crosses political lines

May 23, 2008


These days, people on "one side" of the political spectrum are not supposed to cooperate, much less have a personal relationship with anyone on the "other side." Siding with "the enemy" can get you branded a compromiser, a sellout, or fool. While it is true that on too many occasions conservatives have had their ideological pockets picked by liberals whose favor they curried, that is no excuse for hating people because of their political beliefs.

In the case of my 25-year relationship with Sen. Edward Kennedy, our ideological pockets have remained secure, but our friendship has been something I have treasured.

It began in 1983 when I received a call from a Washington Post reporter. I was working for the Moral Majority at the time and a computer had spit out a membership card for Sen. Kennedy and then inadvertently sent it to him. The reporter asked if I wanted the card back. "No," I said. "We don't believe anyone is beyond redemption. In fact, I hope Sen. Kennedy comes and speaks at Liberty Baptist College (now Liberty University)," the school founded by the late Jerry Falwell.

A few days later, I received a call from Kennedy's chief of staff. "The senator accepts your invitation." I was stunned and so was Falwell, but Kennedy came and was well received. He spoke on faith, truth and tolerance and his remarks are as relevant today as they were when he uttered them. (See and read them at;).

While some might disagree on the way he applies such notions to the liberal policies in which he believes, few would contest most of the principles he articulated that night.

Kennedy said: "I am an American and a Catholic; I love my country and treasure my faith. But I do not assume that my conception of patriotism or policy is invariably correct, or that my convictions about religion should command any greater respect than any other faith in this pluralistic society."

What student or advocate of the First Amendment would disagree with that? Is that not what the Founders had in mind when they prohibited a federally established religion while simultaneously guaranteeing its free exercise? Kennedy continued, "When people agree on public policy, they ought to be able to work together, even while they worship in diverse ways. For truly, we are all yoked together as Americans, and the yoke is the happy one of individual freedom and mutual respect."

Again, not bad. He added: "Separation of church and state cannot mean an absolute separation between moral principles and political power. The challenge today is to recall the origin of the principle, to define its purpose, and refine its application to the politics of the present."

The issues outlined in Kennedy's speech still resonate today, except now it is the Democratic presidential candidates who are talking more about faith and public policy, not the Republican candidate.

Getting to know Sen. Kennedy that night and being with him on many subsequent occasions helped me understand him on a level far different from TV images and direct-mail appeals that ask for $25 to keep him from doing things that will "ruin" America (the Left sent out similar appeals for money to save America from my side).

I came to see Sen. Kennedy not as a symbol, but as a fellow human being who does not get up in the morning seeking ways to harm the country. I know of things he has done for the poor and homeless on his own time and in his own way without a press release or a desire for public approval. I know of other hurts and concerns about which I would never speak.

In our poisoned political atmosphere, there are few friendships like this, at least few anyone can speak of publicly for fear of political ruin. It ought to be a privilege (it is certainly a command) for my conservative Christian friends to pray for Sen. Kennedy that he might be healed and restored to health. It is certainly mine and I don't care who on "my side" knows it.

Cal Thomas is a columnist for Tribune Media Services.


christy kennedy 9 years, 10 months ago

So Cal Thomas is apparently not beyond redemption, but the commenters above are still working hard at it.

staff04 9 years, 10 months ago

"If her were a GOP, the liberals would be smearing him on the blogs like nobodys business and the whole normal load of garbage."Oh, you mean like the first few conservative posters have here today?Pot, meet kettle.

Brent Garner 9 years, 10 months ago

Respect for Ted Kennedy?Let me think!Gave aid and comfort to the enemy via his anit-war actions during the Vietnam War. This aid and comfort greatly increased the suffering of our POWs.A public drunkard.An adulterer.Oh, and Chappaquiddick. Add at least manslaugher to the list.Has added language to the defense appropriations bill that had the potential, because it was so loosely written, to make any person who states that homosexuality is a sin guilty of a hate crime.Gives aid and comfort to the IslamaNazis by his public pronouncements castigating our efforts to resist them. Cited by IslamaNazis in their propaganda.Never met a tax he didn't like.Supports abortion on demand 100%.Sorry, Cal, no respect here for Ted Kennedy. I do feel some sadness for him. He will most likely die from this condition which will cause him to crossover and meet his Maker. He is NOT ready for that.

cato_the_elder 9 years, 10 months ago

I wonder how many of the far-left ideologues who regularly post on this site will castigate Mr. Thomas for this particular column.

ReadingSports 9 years, 10 months ago

Hi all, I'm going to again caution conservatives to watch their tongues, and that any Christians should be praying for him. And any Christians should remember that we are ALL sinners and in dire need of God's grace, and that none of us is any better than Edward Kennedy.And I'm going to link to an earlier discussion on this topic. Marion's posts in particular are worth reading.

temperance 9 years, 10 months ago

"I wonder how many of the far-left ideologues who regularly post on this site will castigate Mr. Thomas for this particular column."Not from me. It was a classy column. I can't believe I'm writing that about Cal, but give credit where it's due.Oh Brent, you're so cute in trying to re-fight the Vietnam war. It was a dumb war. Kennedy and the anti-war crowd were right. Get over it already. "Kennedy opposed the Vietnam War" is not a compelling argument unless you're trying to show his prescience.

Uhlrick_Hetfield_III 9 years, 10 months ago

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I_See_Dead_People 9 years, 10 months ago

Mary Jo wanted me to convey a message to you, Teddy darling:"Why? Why did you let me drown in your car. One minute we were laughing and joking and having so much fun, then when you missed that bridge, it was like you turned into a whole different person. Why, Teddy? Why did you let me die there in that cold dark water? See you soon, Teddy, dearest one".

davidnta 9 years, 10 months ago

Why would any liberal chastise Cal on this issue here? Someone who has served this country has gotten sick and all anyone can say is that they have no respect for him?Conservatism does not equal compassion. At least not with the commentators here.

jonas 9 years, 10 months ago

I don't know Cato, it seems to me that the foolish castigating is largely coming from the other side of the political spectrum. What do you think?

I_See_Dead_People 9 years, 10 months ago

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Jim Phillips 9 years, 10 months ago

It's been said before and more eloquently than I will here. I dislike Ted and all he stands for, but I wouldn't wish this on anyone. I hope a cure is there to be found. As far as some of the remarks here go, you Libs were quick to use the same language when Charlton Heston passed. And a great number of the Conservatives who are lamblasting Kennedy here were chastising you Libs for your comparable comments. I guess the one thing we can all agree on is to be hypocritical.

yourworstnightmare 9 years, 10 months ago

Cal wrote a good and honest column here. I want to see more of this Cal Thomas.

bondmen 9 years, 10 months ago

What punk rock group produced a song with the following lyrics? What's the song title?I am governor Jerry BrownMy aura smiles and never frownsSoon I will be president...Carter power will soon go awayI will be Fuhrer one dayI will command all of youYour kids will meditate in schoolYour kids will meditate in schoolCalifornia Uber allesCalifornia Uber allesUber alles CaliforniaUber alles CaliforniaZen fascists will control youHundred percent naturalYou will jog for the master raceAnd always wear the happy faceClose your eyes, can't happen hereBig Bro' on white horse is nearThe hippies won't come back you sayMellow out or you will payCalifornia Uber alles:Uber alles California:Now It Is 1984Knock knock at your front doorIt's the suede denim secret policeThey have come for your uncool nieceCome quietly to the campYou'd look nice as a drawstring lampDon't you worry, it's only a showerFor your clothes here's a pretty flowerDie on organic poison gasSerpent's egg's already hatchedYou will croak, you little clownWhen you mess with President BrownCalifornia Uber alles:Uber alles California:

yourworstnightmare 9 years, 10 months ago

I wish Cal were as subtle and nuanced about other topics as he was with this.It is not a black-and-white world, and I hope Cal remembers that in future columns.

jonas 9 years, 10 months ago

readingsports: I'm a little. . . . confused by your Ceasar reference. The quote is given to one who previously had Caesar's trust and respect, but still betrayed him. I would hope that such was not the interpretation of my post. I have nothing but respect for the article, the "foolish castigating" comment was reserved solely for the posters on this thread, such as Cato, who dropped in a foolish comment and refused to own it or acknowledge it after it was shown to be flawed. Would you care to enlighten me further?

ReadingSports 9 years, 10 months ago

Sorry, It's was just a reference to the You too aspect of the quote. Not to Ceasar. Pace was sniping from behind Kennedy's hospital bed, and I felt like your comment was slightly, but no where near as bad. It was a bit of a generalization. IMHO, there's enough stupid here to go around, from both, all, sides. I have no problem with anyone wanting to pay respects to Kennedy, just don't rip others in order to build him up. As far as I'm concerned his admirers can strip naked, dance around the fire, and sacrifice a chicken. Just don't toss bodily by-products at those of us that choose not to participate. Although, feel free to correct those that "boo" on the sidelines, like "I_see_Dead_People". I think we can leave politics out of this, and not kick the Kennedy when he's down.

pace 9 years, 10 months ago

The far rwingers seem to be consumed with hate fueled by fear. Ted K has done more for this country than the pitiful moral hypocritical majority. War for breakfast and salacious rumor for lunch, the hilarious spending of tax money for corporations for supper, finally the desert of spoiling the earth.This country needs a different diet.

acoupstick 9 years, 10 months ago

""Carma"??"Yes, as in "your carma ran over my dogma."Guess people should not learn spelling from bumper stickers.

yourworstnightmare 9 years, 10 months ago

I think Jello, East Bay Ray, et al. were referring to the assassination of Edward's brothers John and Robert.Frankenchrist was also a terrific record.

jumpin_catfish 9 years, 10 months ago

John yes, Bobby definitely, Teddy, respect, I don't think so. I am sorry he's sick. I wouldn't wish his health issues on anyone.

I_See_Dead_People 9 years, 10 months ago

Of course the kooks that run wild and free on LJW will pine over Kennedy. But I think it's clear that most people really don't care what happens to Teddy, in fact hoping his long and deleterious post in the capitol will end soon, one way or another. If we can get rid of Nazi Pelosi, Harrrrrrry "Traitor at large" Reid, The Clintons and Howard Dean, we'll just let Barack Hussein Obama sink up to his cute little head in disaster after disaster in DC.

Haiku_Cuckoo 9 years, 10 months ago

Several years ago I stood on Dike Bridge in Chappaquiddick and imagined what happened there years earlier: A young girl desperately struggling to escape a submerged car while the car's driver fled on foot, swam across the harbor and returned to his hotel room. Sad, really.

ReadingSports 9 years, 10 months ago

Again, Nice post Marion. I second. Though please don't insult monkeys.

Tom McCune 9 years, 10 months ago

The best line anybody ever wrote about Teddy's private vs. public life: "The man of the night had vanquished the knight of the day."

yourworstnightmare 9 years, 10 months ago

I am constantly amazed at the willingness of morons to debase themselves "just because they did it first".

ReadingSports 9 years, 10 months ago

Pace, I've been quick to correct conservatives for making inappropiate remarks, I would remind you that the article itself comes from a conservative. Et tu jonas.

I_See_Dead_People 9 years, 10 months ago

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acoupstick 9 years, 10 months ago

MarionI must confess I had never heard of Mencken before your post. This quote from 1920 concerning his views of democracy made me chuckle "The larger the mob, the harder the test. In small areas, before small electorates, a first-rate man occasionally fights his way through, carrying even the mob with him by force of his personality. But when the field is nationwide, and the fight must be waged chiefly at second and third hand, and the force of personality cannot so readily make itself felt, then all the odds are on the man who is, intrinsically, the most devious and mediocre - the man who can most easily adeptly disperse the notion that his mind is a virtual vacuum. "The Presidency tends, year by year, to go to such men. As democracy is perfected, the office represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. We move toward a lofty ideal. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron."

jonas 9 years, 10 months ago

readingsports: I guess I understand a little better, but I still feel that perhaps you're maligning me a tad unfairly. Certainly I have no desire to build Kennedy up. I'm pretty equal opportunity when it comes to both politicians and partisan ideologues, I despise both sides fairly equally, but at the point of my post it was pretty clear which direction the negative wind is blowing from.But no harm done, at any rate.

labmonkey 9 years, 10 months ago

I remember that Liberals, such as those on KMBC, played the "Tricky Dick" song for Richard Nixon when he died. I am sorry, but I have no sympathy for Kennedy. He has lived a long life, much longer than Mary Jo Kopechne. He should have rotted in prison long ago.

ReadingSports 9 years, 10 months ago

Jonas, Okay, I apologize. My last one didn't come out right, and I took you comment the wrong way.

ReadingSports 9 years, 10 months ago

Jonas, I read your post again, maybe I saw more there then you meant. Mea culpa. And I also was quick to get out in front of this one. And you were right there too. On any internet message board there's always someone more interested in yelling and personal attacks than in civil discussion. And yes, every side has their share of yellers.BTW. did you get a chance to read the post I sent you a message about? It's was under "Marriage Bond". I just though that you might have thought I meant here, but "Use the link, luke." :-)

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