Emmett Tyrrell

WASHINGTON -- I am immersed in research on the life of he who was called the Lion of the Senate, Edward M. Kennedy, known by one and all as Teddy. Readers of this column will be surprised to hear that I do not think his life was totally devoted to mischief. Oh, yes, there was the Chappaquiddick mishap. And one cannot ignore the slandering of Judge Robert Bork, which was at once ignorant and unconscionable. Judge Bork at the time of Teddy's outburst against him was probably indifferent to abortion and at any rate would not have made the elimination of abortion his obsession if he were raised to the Supreme Court. Obviously it was one of Teddy's obsessions, despite the teachings of his church.

Yet Teddy did some good. He served the people of Massachusetts well. He was, for them and for the country, a far superior senator than the zany John Kerry. He could work with Republicans at times, and he did so occasionally with good result, for instance in education.

Yet he was the embodiment of a particularly noxious impulse often found in the anatomy of the leftist. It is the urge to be constantly engaged. Even when there is no plausible goal or hope of improving things, the leftist is engaged. One sees this mischievous impulse at work in Teddy on the one issue to which he devoted his life: immigration.

From his earliest days in the Senate until his last, he kept struggling for an ever changing, usually worsening, set of policies toward relaxing our immigration laws. He would invoke some pathetic image of a little Irish boy appearing on Ellis Island many moons ago. His nose was running. He had holes in his pants. The waif was supposedly Teddy's direct ancestor, and look how in two or three generations that little boy's progeny created one of the most colossal fortunes in America. Truth be told, by the late twentieth century -- Teddy having worked his will with immigration reforms -- that mythical little Irish boy's modern-day equivalent could not get into the country, and what boys have arrived mostly did so illegally, hazarding life and limb for a job that was tenuous and for a life that was beyond the security and sanctions of the law. We had a workable system for immigration in the early 1960s. By the time Teddy turned up his toes immigration was practically hopeless. I submit to you the Senate's recent 1200-page immigration bill.

Emmett Tyrrell

R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. is founder and editor in chief of The American Spectator and co-author of Madame Hillary: The Dark Road to the White House.
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