The Plank

Ted Kennedy On The Rocks

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GQ has made available on its website former TNR editor Michael Kelly's classic "Ted Kennedy on the Rocks," one of the best pieces of political reportage I have ever read. As the article clearly demonstrates, Chappaquiddick did not do much to stave Ted Kennedy's recklessness, but, since marrying again in 1992, Kennedy has tempered his behavior. Interestingly, the article also features Kennedy carousing with current long-shot presidential candidate Chris Dodd. According to Roll Call's then-gossip columnist Bill Thomas, "[Kennedy]'s off the reservation ... out of control ... He has no compunctions whatsoever." Kennedy and Dodd, Thomas said, were like "two guys in a fraternity who have been loosed upon the world." Here's some more:

It is after midnight and Kennedy and Dodd are just finishing up a long dinner in a private room on the first floor of the restaurant's annex. They are drunk. Their dates, two very young blondes, leave the table to go to the bathroom. (The dates are drunk, too. "They'd always get their girls very, very drunk," says a former Brasserie waitress.) Betty Loh, who served the foursome, also leaves the room. Raymond Campet, the co-owner of La Brasserie, tells Gaviglio [a waitress] the senators want to see her.

As Gaviglio enters the room, the six-foot-two, 225-plus-pound Kennedy grabs the five-foot-three, 103-pound waitress and throws her on the table. She lands on her back, scattering crystal, plates and cutlery and the lit candles. Several glasses and a crystal candlestick are broken. Kennedy then picks her up from the table and throws her on Dodd, who is sprawled in a chair. With Gaviglio on Dodd's lap, Kennedy jumps on top and begins rubbing his genital area against hers, supporting his weight on the arms of the chair. As he is doing this, Loh enters the room. She and Gaviglio both scream, drawing one or two dishwashers. Startled, Kennedy leaps up. He laughs. Bruised, shaken and angry over what she considered a sexual assault, Gaviglio runs from the room. Kennedy, Dodd and their dates leave shortly thereafter, following a friendly argument between the senators over the check.

The two Senators, men of privilege and heirs to political dynasties both, were notorious in Washington for such antics. I am not one to make an issue out of politicians' personal lives, but I think the Democratic party is crossing a line by tolerating this sort of old-school, old-boy D.C. misogyny.

--James Kirchick

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