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Professors and Teddy

The Mail


To the Editors of the CRIMSON:

It is an unfortunate commentary on the Massachusetts electorate when they can seriously consider the candidacy of so completely inexperienced and un-accomplished a young man as Ted Kennedy for the United States Senate, solely because he happens to be the President's brother.

But the situation becomes even less tolerable when distinguished members of the academic community take to the political hustlings in behalf of a candidate who has only ambition and a name to recommend him for high public office.

With the publication in last Friday's Boston papers of an advertisement signed by sixteen Massachusetts academicians (including eleven from Harvard) supporting Ted Kennedy, such a situation has become a sad reality. The statement on behalf of Kennedy spends most of its 500 words mis-interpreting the positions of Teddy's Republican opponent, George Lodge, and directing the voter's attention to the youngest Kennedy's potential to rubber-stamp his brother's every wish in Congress. It pleads, in effect: "Re-elect John F. Kennedy United States Senator so he can be more effective President."

The benefits to be reaped by the White House from having Teddy in the Senate are--at best--dubious. Most political observers in the national press have already accepted the fact that Teddy's candidacy in Massachusetts is seriously damaging the political aspirations of more worthy Democratic Congressional candidates throughout the country. Such a noted Presidential admirer as James Reston has Teddy's candidacy "is widely regarded as an affront and a presumption." Reston concludes that "it is likely to cost the President more votes in the Senate than Teddy will ever give him." And justly so; for the very fact of Ted Kennedy's candidacy is degrading to the United States Senate.

If the first part of the Professors' Statement is naive, though, the last sentence is insulting. "As academic men, long interested in politics," the sentence comences in bold italics, "we stress the point that in our opinion Mr. Kennedy is highly qualified on his own merits to serve Massachusetts in the Senate."

What "merits"? It is very plain that Teddy has none to recommend him for the high office he seeks; and scholars of such high rank as these are only de-meaning their academic credentials when they blithely assert that he does.

Ted Kennedy has never held elective office in his life. He has refused to confront his two major opponents in open debate, apparently out of the well-found fear that he is no intellectual match for either of them. Out of seventeen opportunities since he was twenty-one, he has voted only four times in local, state, and national elections. He has made no record of accomplishment in any area of human endeavor to suggest that he is remotely qualified for the U. S. Senate. As Professor Mark DeWolfe Howe, an outspoken "New Frontier" advocate, said some months ago of Teddy: "His academic career is mediocre. His professional career is virtually non-existent. His candidacy is both preposterous and insulting."

Our conception of a United States Senator is not of a young man able to out-smile and out-handshake his opponents, who can swallow intellectual pablum spoon-fed him by a group of professors, only to gilbly regurgitate it for a radio and television audience at optimum listening hours. It is rather of a man, hopefully seasoned and matured by capable, intelligent public service, who seeks high office on the basis of his own merits, his own record, and his own ideas. Ted Kennedy certainly is not such a man. Harry F. Greene '63   Hendrik Hertzberg '65   Peter J. Wallison '63

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