I never believed the official tale behind the Chappaquiddick incident, but folks, the truth is even worse than I thought.
The Chappaquiddick scandal, for anyone who may be too young to remember, happened when Senator Ted Kennedy drove his car off a bridge and into the water on Chappaquiddick Island, Massachusetts. A young volunteer who helped with his brother Bobby’s presidential campaign, Mary Jo Kopechne, was sitting in the front seat.
Ted got his own butt out of the car, left the scene of the accident, and did not call for help for Mary Jo. She might have had a chance to live if he had. But no, Ted just fled. Later he claimed amnesia, claimed a concussion, and claimed a lot of things, all designed to render himself blameless.
Instead, as the movie shows, he ran to get two trusted friends, who went back to the scene with him but also didn’t report the accident, and then called his thug of a father, Joseph Kennedy, Sr. Joe’s had a stroke by this time but manages to struggle out one word of advice for Ted. Wait until you hear it. It’s a doozie! Following that, Joe proceeds to bring in a team to organize the cover-up. After all, to his mind, a girl may have needlessly died, but family honor and family ambition were “more important,” at least to Joe!
Allow me to inject a few words here about Joseph Kennedy, Sr. It’s well-known that one reason he was “driven” to succeed in life, and to later push his kids to political office, took place after his snobby WASP classmates at Harvard refused to include him socially because he was an Irish Catholic.
Well, so am I. Did I go to school with snobs, too? Yes. Did I ever! I could write a book on that, and one day I just might. But did I try to get “in” with those ridiculous people whose noses were so far in the air that if it rained they’d have drowned? Ha, are you kidding? I wanted them to simply leave me be and looked around for decent people to befriend instead. The whole idea of anyone being so “driven” to be “included” by a pack of self-proclaimed elitists that he would go to the creepy lengths Joe Kennedy went to, not only in terms of this scandal but during his whole life, strikes me as 100% crazy. As my Dad always says, if anybody doesn’t include you, just say to yourself, “Hooray for me – to heck with you!”
Well, okay. Dad used a minor variation on “to heck with.” But you get the point. Those snooty types are more of a joke than anything, and they just aren’t worth it.
Anyway, I wonder how American history, not to mention the life of the young girl killed when pampered Teddy’s car flew over the bridge, might have turned out differently had Joe Kennedy been included by the jerks he met at Harvard. He rose to be an Ambassador and two of his four sons ran for President…and both wound up assassinated. Was it worth it, Joe?
Joe Kennedy may not have been driving the car on Chappaquiddick Island, but he was all over the cover-up. If you’re anything like me, you’ll leave the theater wanting to let out an outraged scream over the events that happened in Chappaquiddick, and how they were falsely presented to the world after the fact.
The movie stars Jason Clarke as Ted, Kate Mara as Mary Jo Kopechne, and Bruce Dern as Joseph Kennedy. Ed Helms plays Ted Kennedy’s cousin, Joe Gargan, who becomes the stand-out character in the movie because he’s the one who still has a conscience. All are superb. The photography, especially of the island, is gorgeous and makes me want to visit. This is one of the best movies I’ve ever seen and I’m hoping it wins a lot of awards. BRAVO to the entire cast and crew for telling this well-presented story of a horrific and ultimately chilling event.