What does a Kennedy have to do to not get re-elected by starry-eyed New England Catholics? Ted Kennedy left Mary Jo Kopechne to die. Joe Kennedy rolled his jeep and left a girl paralyzed. Patrick “Patches” Kennedy was pulled over y the Capitol Police, obviously under the influence, enters rehab for a drug problem, and is coasting to easy re-election as Rhode Island’s US Representative. Keep in mind that this isn’t Patches’ first run in with being under the influence in public.
In fact, he acknowledges that his repeated scandals have helped him. I guess when you’re a pathetic adult male, you get the sympathy vote from Irish and Italian mothers who just want to take care of you.
Kennedy himself says the fallout from the crash has worked to his benefit, at least on this issue.
“The additional press I have gotten from this has obviously given me a bigger platform,” he said. “Clearly, people identify me as someone who knows what they are talking about when it comes to alcohol and addiction.” ... After speaking to a group of seniors recently, Kennedy was surrounded by several women cooing, “Patrick, our Patrick.” The only contrary note was struck by one man in an armchair, who snapped his newspaper in annoyance.
Of course what it boils down to is politics as usual, especially pork barrel politics.
“It’s been a real non-issue in this campaign,” said Darrell M. West, a professor of political science at Brown University and author of a biography of Kennedy. “People no longer see substance abuse as an unusual problem. If you’re in recovery, well, you’re helping yourself, so good for you. And if you’re in recovery and you’re on the Appropriations Committee, then it doesn’t matter at all.”
And that may be why the Kennedys have survived so long: They know how to bring home the bacon.
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