Sen. Teddy Kennedy has demanded that the Bush Administration waive attorney-client privilege and release internal memos John Roberts worked on while in the solicitor general’s office at the Justice Department 15 years ago, all of which were supposed to be held in the deepest confidence. Apparently, Kennedy thinks public officials have no right to keep even their attorney-client communications secret.
This surprised me because the senator is such a strong advocate of the (nonexistent) "right to privacy." And not just in the way most drunken, Spanish quiz-cheating, no-pants-wearing public reprobates generally cherish their own personal right to privacy. I mean privacy in the abstract.
I know as much about the "right to privacy" as I know about any other made-up, nonexistent right, but I would have thought that any "right to privacy" would protect confidential attorney-client conversations at least as much as, say, abortions in public buildings.
But I’ll have to defer to the expert.
Consequently, applying the principle even-handedly to members of the executive branch as well as the legislative branch, I demand that Kennedy immediately waive all attorney-client privilege relating to his communications with his lawyer after he drove Mary Jo Kopechne off the bridge at Chappaquiddick. It’s time to clear up, once and for all, the many questions that have swirled around Kennedy since Chappaquiddick.
Oops,"swirled" may have been a poor choice of words there. How about "floated"? Nope . "Surfaced"? Oooh–even worse, in terms of irony. " Come to light"? OK, now I’m just being obtuse. "Beset"? Yes, that’s better.
Youth is no defense. John Roberts was 26 years old when he wrote the documents that Kennedy demands on behalf of the Senate. Kennedy was 36 when he drove Mary Jo Kopechne off a bridge.
If the Senate needs to know what Roberts thought about the law at age 26, then the Senate certainly needs to know what Kennedy thought about the law at age 36, when he drowned a girl and then spent the rest of the evening concocting an alibi instead of calling the police.
This isn’t a "rehash" of Chappaquiddick; it’s never been hashed. The Senate needs to know whether Kennedy was guilty of manslaughter. How else can the Senate be expected to carry out its constitutional duty to expel Kennedy unless Kennedy makes these key documents available?
We’ll pick them up in the same van we send to collect John Kerry’s military records and Bill Clinton’s medical records.
While we wait, here’s my guess as to what those attorney-client conversations sounded like, based on the facts in Leo Damore’s book Senatorial Privilege: The Chappaquiddick Cover-Up:
Interview with client Teddy Kennedy, July 19, 1969:
Teddy: May I approach the bench?
Lawyer: It’s not a bench, Teddy. It’s my desk. And no, you can’t have another Chivas Regal.
Lawyer: Let’s start at the beginning.
Teddy: I’m going to say you were driving.
Lawyer: No, you are not saying I was driving.
Teddy: OK, someone in your family was driving.
Lawyer: They weren’t even in Massachusetts that week. Can we move on? Why didn’t you call the police after the accident, Teddy?
Teddy: I had to protect my political career, obviously. But this wasn’t just about me! I was thinking about future drunk, philandering U.S. senators who may or may not have just drowned some chick they met at a party.
Lawyer: But what about Mary Jo?
Teddy: Yes, precisely! How would it look if I, a United States senator, were driving off to a secluded beach at midnight with a beautiful, nubile female after a private party? How would that look?
Lawyer : But Mary Jo was still alive for two hours.
Teddy: Did I mention my wife was pregnant? You think I should have reported the accident now, Mr. Smartypants?
Lawyer: She was trapped in that car, struggling to breathe!
Teddy: Do you know that two of my brothers were assassinated?
Lawyer: She was still alive! You could have saved her!
Teddy: Yeah, and say goodbye to my presidential ambitions. There was the future of the country to consider–as well as the future of the Chivas Regal company and all their employees. I am a Kennedy. I have a divine right to the presidency. I had to put that ahead of my lawyer’s conscience. Anyway, Mary Jo was driving.
Lawyer: Teddy, we can’t say Mary Jo was driving.
Teddy: What if some phony witness claimed that the driver stopped to ask for directions. Wouldn’t that prove it was a woman driving?
Lawyer: But what about the witnesses?
Teddy: We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. Hey, what’s so funny? Did I just say something funny?
To be continued . . .