Thursday, August 27, 2009

Automobiles and History -- a 1967 Oldsmobile Delmont 88, the Chappaquiddick Incident, and the Political Career of Ted Kennedy

On one hand, now is not the time to be making light of the flaws of a man who so readily admitted to his personal shortcomings. By all accounts, Ted Kennedy was a great American. He gave much to the country he loved, and his efforts resulted in legislation that helped many Americans is to be fully celebrated. He was a great man, but even great men can fall to the vicissitudes of the moment when Technology Wounds, to borrow a phrase from the title of a book by Chellis Glendenning. In Kennedy's case it was panic after a late night accident in July of 1967. The fact of the matter is that automobiles are dangerous things, a technological system that can cause lots of hurt, and one that can be lost control of in a split second.
The accident cast a shadow over Kennedy that he could never completely shake. It prevented him from running for President in 1972 and also 1980. Who knows if the nation would have been spared the pains of Watergate and the resignation of Nixon? To this day Kennedy haters are quick to bring up the matter.
It is remarkable that an everyday Oldsmobile Delmont 88 was at the center of an event that changed history in ways we will never fully know.

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