Andrew Breitbart: Stepping Over The Line

Andrew Breitbart: Stepping Over The Line


All of the above are tweets from Andrew Breitbart’s Twitter feed.

Here’s the deal: you don’t speak ill of the dead, especially when the body is still warm.

Now, before any of the conservatives in the audience get all pissy with me, you should know that I did not always agree with Ted Kennedy (and still don’t). I thought that the way that he treated Clarence Thomas during his Supreme Court Justice hearings was shameful. I think that Chappaquiddick was a supremely shady incident (at best). I think that the idea that Ted Kennedy made his way up the political ladder, and got out of some, err, sticky situations simply because of his surname is downright shameful.

However, unlike other bad people in this world, Ted Kennedy turned himself around and tried to make the world a better place. There’s a great piece over at Politico that talks about that very subject. Money:

He was elected to the Senate 47 years ago this autumn, when nearly 65 percent of Americans now alive were not yet born. And it turns out longevity creates its own kind of charisma and myth-making power.

Forty-seven years was long enough to transform him in popular vocabulary from Teddy to Ted.

It was long enough for him to bleach and in many eyes redeem the most garish stains on his public image. Twenty years ago Kennedy’s name tended to be invoked first in the context of personal excess and scandal, and only secondarily in the context of public service. In later years this order was emphatically reversed.

“From 1980 to this day, I know of no one who has transformed themselves – not overnight, just steady, year by year, bill by bill, problem by problem – to, what do they say – ‘lion of the Senate,'” said former Sen. Harris Wofford (D-Pa.)

After the deaths of his brothers and his own disgrace in the 1969 incident at Chappaquiddick, Wofford said, Kennedy turned his attention to a sustained, deliberate effort to rebuild his reputation.

“He set about being a very diligent, good senator. A powerful one, rapidly, because people liked him,” said Wofford, who served as an aide to John Kennedy. “He was in his own world and he was not under the shadow of either brother. Neither of them was really comfortable in the Senate. He fit in.”

Now, you may not see it that way. Because Kennedy was unabashedly liberal, many conservatives decried that he was ‘destroying our country’. But here’s the thing: anytime you are serving the public as an elected official, you are trying to make our country better. Albeit in your own way, but better nonetheless. Not everyone will agree with you, but that’s what happens when you don’t get 100% of the votes (and who does that?).

For example, I have been very clear that I think Michele Bachmann is out-of-her-mind when it comes to issues like the U.S. Census (truth here). But, I will admit that she is trying to make our country a better place. If (Heaven forbid) she were to get hit by a truck and die today, I would never say thing like Breitbart is saying (tweeting).

After all, you just don’t speak ill of the dead. Sadly, Breitbart is not alone in his callousness.

  • Agnostick
  • pdx632

    Have these people actually ever READ the Bible, the book that they claim rules their lives.

  • http://sidewaysmencken.blogspot michael reynolds

    I don’t accept the “don’t speak ill” rule. Speak the truth, if that’s “ill” then so be it.

    That said, this wasn’t about speaking the truth it was about spreading partisan propaganda. Breitbart’s an idiot.

  • wasabi gasp

    I disagree with the “don’t speak ill of the dead” sentiment, but this tough guy went all Jihad Joe on the dead. What a pathetic little man.

  • TMLutas

    Let’s see, the first is an observation of the media double standard that favored Sen. Kennedy. The second is undoubtedly meanspirited. The third is another observation of media bias. The fourth is also meanspirited. So half your examples don’t actually support your point but are excellent for mau mauing conservatives into not even protesting the old line media over the top gushing.

    I’m not in favor of meanspiritedness but I’ve seen enough of it when hated figures on the right die that it doesn’t surprise me to see the mirror image now when it’s a left winger hated by the right who died.

    The political elite’s civility is degrading and the degradation is accelerating. Breitbart isn’t helping but this is just a symptom of a much deeper, bipartisan disease.

  • Trescml

    You have to remember his audience dislike Kennedy to a huge degree. He is just throwing red meat out to a fairly large group that really hates the guy. Does it cross the line, yes. If he felt that way would it be better to keep quiet under the circumstances, yes. But in the blog/twitter age decent behavior got thrown out the window a long time ago. You don’t get followers on the web by being silent. It is a sad commentary of where we are as a country, but there are more partisan “YOU SUCK” type sites than ones with well reasoned thought.

  • kranky kritter

    “Don’t speak ill of the just passed” is a rule that IMO applies for local consumption. It comes from a time further past than when it took 3 weeks to get news from the next state.

    I am not really down with the mainstream media penchant for lionizing and whitewashing, it makes for tedious viewing. Yet it makes sense when you figure that they probably have some sense of propriety in not offending family and friends. So we can all safely tolerate the focusing on the positive.

    But when it comes to the minor media, blogs, and twitter for example, I’ve got zero problem with folks speaking their mind and speaking the truth as they see it. It’s the logical place for the antidote to the mainstream whitewash.

    Kennedy was what he was, a very flawed figure personally, an insider horsetrading pol of longstanding and with much accumulated power. Power which he used often in a highly partisan way without 2nd thoughts. He achieved much, yet there’s plenty of room for debate as to whether those achievements were all good. And he personally helped thousands of people from Massachusetts. I think it’s hard to argue that his legislative heart was not in the right place, even if you dislike and disagree with some of the results.

  • http://sidewaysmencken.blogspot michael reynolds

    The lionizing and whitewashing also has a cumulative effect. It obliterates the interesting and the nuanced and the informative in favor of the mawkish and the empty.

    Tell the truth. Most people are neither saints nor villains. That’s what makes them interesting.

    Teddy had a hell of a life. He wasn’t a cardboard cut-out, he was good and bad, reckless and prudent, brave and cowardly. Like all people. But with a more interesting job and family and history than most people.

  • Jimmy the Dhimmi

    My favorite take on this issue is from Mark Steyn. Its a must read for the not-to sqeemish types:

    …As Teddy’s biographer Adam Clymer wrote, Edward Kennedy’s “achievements as a senator have towered over his time, changing the lives of far more Americans than remember the name Mary Jo Kopechne.”

    You can’t make an omelette without breaking chicks, right? I don’t know how many lives the senator changed — he certainly changed Mary Jo’s — but you’re struck less by the precise arithmetic than by the basic equation: How many changed lives justify leaving a human being struggling for breath for up to five hours pressed up against the window in a small, shrinking air pocket in Teddy’s Oldsmobile? If the senator had managed to change the lives of even more Americans, would it have been okay to leave a couple more broads down there? Hey, why not? At the Huffington Post, Melissa Lafsky mused on what Mary Jo “would have thought about arguably being a catalyst for the most successful Senate career in history . . . Who knows — maybe she’d feel it was worth it.” What true-believing liberal lass wouldn’t be honored to be dispatched by that death panel?

    What say you, Mike R? Would you sacrifice your sister or your wife to lord Poseidon if it would deliver another 47 years of liberal service to the U.S. Senate, the way these ghoulish writers at the Huffington Post would?

  • Jimmy

    “Now, you may not see it that way. Because Kennedy was unabashedly liberal, many conservatives decried that he was ‘destroying our country’. But here’s the thing: anytime you are serving the public as an elected official, you are trying to make our country better.”

    Completely agree with this – particularly how can you please everyone. Kennedy was heavliy liberal – but was passionate about improving our country..