The deification of the Kennedys: Act II

You’d think the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston, and the non-stop hagiography of the man by his admirers, would be enough. But no. Another monument to the Kennedys is going up, this one the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate on the campus of the University of Massachusetts Boston.

Given that Ted Kennedy was only one of more than 1900 Senators in U.S. history, you might expect his extended family and vast network of acolytes would have been satisfied with a Ted Kennedy Room in the adjacent $20.8 million, 135,000 sq. ft. John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, all constructed with private funds.

But that obviously wouldn’t do. The 68,000 sq. ft. $79 million Edward M. Kennedy Institute, actually costing more than President Kennedy’s library and museum when adjusted for inflation, is expected to open to the general public on March 31, 2015. It will be a temple to Ted, complete with a full-scale replica of the current U.S. Senate Chamber, inaugurated in 1859.

The Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate

The Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate

Rendering showing a replica of the U.S. Senate chamber that will be the central feature of the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the U.S. Senate

Rendering showing a replica of the U.S. Senate chamber that will be the central feature of the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the U.S. Senate

Ted Kennedy’s shrine will also have extensive museum space for exhibits, a café, classrooms, conference facilities and a gift shop. About all it’s missing is an eternal flame.

The gift shop, presumably, will not include replicas of the 1967 Oldsmobile Delmont 88 that Ted Kennedy drove off Dike Bridge into the channel between Chappaquiddick and Martha’s Vineyard in 1969, drowning 29-year-old Mary Jo Kopechne. Nor is it likely to display a plaque noting that Kennedy left the scene and did not notify the police of the midnight incident until the following morning.

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy's car is pulled from the water on July 19, 1969 after going off a bridge in Chappaquiddick the night before. The body of Mary Kopechne of Washington, D.C., was found in the rear seat. Her death was attributed to drowning.

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy’s car is pulled from the water on July 19, 1969 after going off a bridge in Chappaquiddick the night before. The body of Mary Kopechne of Washington, D.C., was found in the rear seat. Her death was attributed to drowning.

Nor is it likely the Institute will highlight tales of his drinking and raffish behavior that were part of his public persona, according to the Washington Post.

The extravagant monument to Ted Kennedy is also a monument to the ability to tap into federal money, with $38 million of its construction budget coming from the federal government. Former Massachusetts Senator John Kerry and Rep. Edward Markey tried to get even more appropriated to the lavish project, but failed.

That was a small victory for taxpayers, but with all the more pressing priorities in this country , the whole project should have been scuttled.

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