Howie Carr on Kennedy: no love lost

Like a lot of other people, I couldn't wait to hear Howie Carr's gloss on Ted Kennedy's death today.

Carr's been on the WRKO airwaves for about 20 minutes now, and here's the Cliffs Notes version: he's warned his callers to keep the discussion civil, but has no interest in trotting out a Mitt Romney-type profession of admiration for someone whose politics he condemns.

Here's the disclaimer Carr offered at the outset:

Let’s just set the ground rules. I know a lot of people did not like Ted Kennedy. I of course would be someone who didn’t like his politics at all. But I’m not going to allow lines to be crossed, at least as best I can. I don’t want this to just become a total hatefest.... I’m the last guy who wants to censor anybody about Ted Kennedy, but let’s try keep it somewhat within the grounds of the usual discourse.

A couple minutes later, Carr offered a preview of a column which--if I understood correctly--he's submitted both to the New York Post and the Boston Herald. Nothing in the summary about Chappaquiddick or other moral failings; instead, Carr's focus was class, an issue near and dear to his heart:

I began it by saying that I am one of that one-quarter to one-third of the Massachusetts electorate who never voted for Ted Kennedy. I would never consider voting for Ted Kennedy.... I read today that he was for the working class. I never thought of him as being for working class. You know--maybe for the non-working class, but he wasn’t for me, and the people I knew, and it was really frustrating.

I mentioned, too, that a lot of the people in this state, including myself, grew up in households--at least my aunt’s household--where there was a picture to one side of John F. Kennedy, the martyred JFK. On the other side was a picture of the Pope. And in the middle there was a palm frond from the most recent Palm Sunday of the year.

Then you grow up and you start voting, and you hear, "Kennedy was the first Catholic president. Oh, he's from the same background as us." And [Ted Kennedy] was pushing all this stuff that's just anathema to anybody who comes out of the working class. He wanted racial preferences for various groups. He was always pro-life until it became fashionable to be pro-abortion; then he became pro-abortion. He backed immigration reform in 1965, saying it would not lead to a flood of immigrants--that’s one reason why we have an illegal alien problem now. He may have done it with the best intentions.

He was for a nuclear freeze. He was against the Reagan tax cuts. I don't know. Again, I don’t want this to turn into a hate fest, but I just gotta tell you--I think most of you know where I’m coming from.

Just to be clear, I have absolutely no problem with Carr trying to make a substantive case against Kennedy's legacy so soon after his death. And I respect his attempt to keep the conversation relatively civil.

It's worth noting, though, that when Carr says "working class," he really means "white working class." It's also worth noting that--Carr's suggestion notwithstanding--you don't have to be rich to be pro-choice or anti-nuke. (Or, for that matter, to take time off to care for a new baby or a sick relative.)

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