“Where, where is rightness? when the sacred gift,
Immortal genius, comes not in reward
For fervent love, for total self-rejection,
For work and for exertion and for prayers,
But casts its light upon a madman’s head,
An idle loafer’s brow … O Mozart, Mozart!”
Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Salieri (from Alexander Pushkin’s “Mozart and Salieri”)
In Pushkin’s play, “Mozart and Salieri,” Salieri is eaten alive by his anguish and hatred for the man who achieves the things for which Salieri believes he is so desperately more deserving. So bitter is Salieri that he poisons Mozart’s drink.
Enter Ted Kennedy, carrying a cupful of political hemlock, and looking to spike the root beer mug of the Bush presidency– and the Bush family for that matter. Lately, Kennedy has been doing everything possible to derail Bush. It hasn’t been working, and Ted’s slipping deeper and deeper into the “Salieri Syndrome”.
A glance at several different areas, and it isn’t hard to see the root of Ted’s jealous rage.
Bush: Republican. Comes from a powerful political family with a father who was president, a brother who is governor of Florida, and who himself became president on his first run for the Oval Office. A popular governor of Texas, George W. billed himself as a “compassionate conservative” during the campaign, and gained the White House after a long and heated battle. He is vehemently opposed to partial-birth abortion and respects the sanctity of human life in all stages of development.
Kennedy: Democrat. Also comes from a powerful political family, with a brother who was president, and another brother who was attorney general, and may well have been presidential material had he lived. Issues of personal responsibility have cost Ted Kennedy any hope of ever becoming president, leaving him with a feeling of unfulfilled destiny Ã¢â‚¬â€œ like a beer keg that will forever go untapped. The polar opposite of Bush on the abortion issue, Ted voted “no” on banning partial-birth abortions, continuing to tow the line of: “If abortions are outlawed, only outlaws will be allowed to screw around with a Kennedy.”
Bush: Money made legally in the oil business. George H.W. and Barbara had a daughter who passed away from leukemia in 1953, an incident that still deeply affects them to this day. Otherwise, family tragedy has been limited. They often get together for fishing and hunting trips, or just to sit down and talk about old times, and new endeavors.
Kennedy: Money made illegally running rum during prohibition. Joe and Rose Kennedy had a daughter who they deemed a speed-bump on Ambition Highway, so they sent her away to be lobotomized and kept in an institution. Ironically, the “special needs” daughter got in the way of the family’s political agenda of raising sons who could attain high political office, where they could lobby for the human rights of the less fortunate.
Bush: George H.W. and Barbara have been married for 58 years with no infidelities of which I am aware. George W. and Laura have been in a faithful relationship since 1977. Attempts by political opponents in 2000 to insinuate that the married Jeb Bush had been dimpling the chad of Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris failed to gain a foothold. The family is viewed as morally rock-solid on this issue.
Kennedy: Ted’s father, Joe, was a well-known philanderer, having nothing better to do once the 18th Amendment was repealed. His brothers, Jack and Bobby, would take long fishing trips together, both coming back sporting tan lines in the shape of Marilyn Monroe. Ted himself has had his share of flings, which lately have been fewer and farther between, since it’s hard to find a woman who’s willing to ride in the car with him.
Bush: Runs, swims and lifts weights on a regular basis. Publicly announced that he quit drinking when he turned 40, and since has moved forward with an impressive health regimen, making him one of the most physically fit presidents ever. Cholesterol levels and resting heart rate low.
Kennedy: Occasionally runs to the bathroom. Pants are tailor-made from old bivouac tents he used in the Army. Face flowered with perennial gin-blossoms the size of senate pages. Once tried to split a cab with Jerrold Nadler, and did exactly that. At one time, was photographed shirtless being helped aboard his yacht, making it look like a Navy salvage operation to raise the ill-fated USS Gravyboat. Doctors measure his cholesterol level using a viscosity rating.
Ted Kennedy? Envious? Pushkin’s character of Salieri would be proud to know that he has a brother.