LETTER- Wa-who? Teddy's no UVA saint

Thomas Yeatts' write-up of Edward M. Kennedy's speech at the UVA law school [March 23: "Plucky Ted: In speech, principle trumps politics"] plays more as a piece of hagiography of St. Ted than any act of journalism. Why no mention of Kennedy's controversial days at UVA?

Yeatts mentions that in his introduction, Mortimer Caplin laughed off Kennedy's bad grades, but Kennedy's admission itself created quite a stir after he had been kicked out of Harvard for having a classmate take a Spanish exam in his place. Nevertheless, he was admitted to Mister Jefferson's University.

While attending the law school, he was ticketed for driving infractions four times, including once when for going 90 miles an hour in a residential neighborhood with his headlights off after nightfall. Yet his driver's license was never revoked.

This no-consequences upbringing probably played in his head and heart as Mary Jo Kopechne drowned off Chappaquiddick island in 1969. (Is Splash really the name of his dog?) Doesn't a Virginia return require some mention of this history?

The point is not that Kennedy is the devil, just that he is not a saint. Journalism demands some homework, not just lefty talking points. Kennedy has done a lot of good for the common man from the Senate floor, but the man has led a messy, elitist life that bears scrutiny.

Don't give him a pass just because you agree with his politics. Bring on the same snark you would provide a speech by Senator George Allen! Be an equal opportunity snarker!

If this column is an example of what is to come in Shelf Life, put Yeatts back on the shelf.

Byron Harris