Ted Kennedy’s escape from justice
Fifty years ago last week, said Jeff Jacoby, Mary Jo Kopechne died in a submerged car that Sen. Edward Kennedy had driven off a small wooden bridge on Chappaquiddick Island in Massachusetts. A panicked Kennedy freed himself from the car, swam to safety, and left Kopechne, 28, to die; officials later determined she survived for some time by breathing an air pocket in the car until the oxygen ran out. Kennedy never could explain why he failed to summon help, or report the crash to police until the next day—after he had made 16 long-distance calls to aides and advisers. The next day a Kennedy aide swooped in and flew Kopechne’s body out of Massachusetts, beyond the jurisdiction of local and state law enforcement, before an autopsy could be conducted. An inquest later found that Kennedy had engaged in “criminal conduct” that led to Kopechne’s death, but Kennedy was never prosecuted. The Democrat was re-elected to the Senate the following year, and another six times afterward. When Richard Nixon was pardoned in 1974, an indignant Kennedy dared to ask, “Is there one system for the average citizen and another for the high and mighty?” He already knew the answer.