By TOBIN HARSHAW (NYT Opinionator Blog) — The death of a public figure, especially a polarizing one, always makes things a bit dicey in opinionland. Do the detractors speak ill of the dead? Do the defenders pre-empt such criticisms, or does that just inspire the critics?
In the case of Ted Kennedy, whose many accomplishments got due recognition everywhere, most chose to duck the fight on anything more problematic. There was comparatively little talk about a Harvard scandal, a very sad end to a first marriage or a controversial rape trial. Even among the pundits and partisans, the name Mary Jo Kopechne was for the most part mentioned only in passing; those on the right who tried to make much of it seemed more petulant than aggrieved — perhaps even shrill — while those on the left who tried to make the best of it sounded patently absurd.