May 13, 2004

The protein wisdom interview:  Ted Kennedy

Mary Jo who now?  I'm sorry, I have no idea what it is you're talking about.

A Democrat from Massachusetts, Edward Moore Kennedy was first elected to the United States Senate in 1962 to finish the term of his brother, John F. Kennedy, who had become president in 1961. “Teddy” was reelected in 1964 and then again for six additional terms, most recently being reelected in 2000. He has a reputation as a hard-working liberal on issues such as education and health care, but his personal life (stories of drinking and womanizing) has frequently been a hot topic for gossip columnists. Kennedy ran for president in 1980 but was defeated for the Democratic nomination by incumbent president Jimmy Carter.

protein wisdom: “Let’s get right to it, Senator. Are you calling this administration an evil gang of liars?”

Kennedy: “Good afternoon, Mr. Wisdom. Well, that’s a bit abrupt, but yes, I suppose I am.”

protein wisdom: “– Just thought we should get that out of the way –“

Kennedy: “– No, I think it’s helpful to be candid, you’re right. But allow me to clarify my answer. Basically, when President Bush became president, I was very hopeful that we could work together in the areas of education reform. And we did. And President Bush had asserted, as I did, that you needed two things for education reform. You — you needed reform and you needed resources. What we did is we passed a bill that had reform, but we haven’t had the resources. And that, I think, is similar to other kinds of issues that we’re facing in public policy. I think this administration misled the American people in the war with Iraq. Iraq didn’t have weapons of mass destruction, it wasn’t tied to al Qaeda. What we should have been focusing on is al Qaeda. And we’ve also seen that with the Medicare bill. And I think one of the most important things that we can do is to have an administration that we can work with. We’ll have philosophical differences, but I found that I could work with President Reagan on arms control. I worked with Bush senior on the Americans with Disabilities Act, along with Tom Harkin and others, who’ve worked in a bipartisan way. I was rather startled. I was rather surprised that after we had the downpayment on education, suddenly we stopped the funding, and it went in a different way.”

protein wisdom: “Senator, when you say ‘misleading,’ do you mean to suggest that the administration is distorting things deliberately, or is this more a case of perhaps not having all the facts? What are you –“

Kennedy: “– Well, it’s very, very clear with regards to education. We had reform plus funding. We just passed a $2.4 billion budget for this next year. We would have needed $8 billion out of the $2.4 trillion for the — for funding the No Child Left Behind. We got zero money in it. We don’t want to misrepresent that we’re doing something for children and then not do it. This was true in terms of the Medicare system — Medicare reform, where the Medicare — our seniors need prescription drugs. But they also need it at a price that they can afford it. And what we’re going to have is a Medicare bill that they have at the present time with prescription drug prices that are right up through the roof.”

protein wisdom: “I’m sorry. Not to get off topic here, but your head is absolutely enormous. Seriously. I’m having a really hard time concentrating. It’s like I’m interviewing a planet –“

Kennedy: “Yes, I have a large head, sir. You’re not the first to point that out, believe me. But to stay on message here, let me just say that basically, we’ve had differences with Democrats and Republicans, but this is an administration that has, as I mentioned, manipulated, distorted, misrepresented information. They did with regards to Iraq. They’ve done it with regards to education. They’ve done it with Medicare. They’ve done it with our economic policies. And we need a basis of trust so that we can try and work through even differences in philosophy. That’s the big difference that we have with this administration compared to other Republican administrations –“

protein wisdom: “– I mean, it always looked big on TV, your head, but I must say that up close…well, it’s stunning, frankly.”

Kennedy: “This is the head I was born with, sir. This is the head I was born with. Now if I may continue. In one sense, I certainly consider the — well, I have a personal relationship with the president. But I also feel very strongly about the issues that are at stake. I’ve been fortunate enough to represent Massachusetts for 40 years in the United States Senate. I’ve been on the Education Committee. Education is very important to me. It is to families across the country. And so when you see the opportunities that are missed, and then you see the distortion, misrepresentation, that isn’t just making me upset, but it’s upsetting the students, who are putting out at 100 percent — as well as the parents, the school boards, all of those involved in education and reform. They’re the ones that are the — the ones that are being left behind. I’m an advocate for the people that I represent, and I welcome the opportunity to do so. But I take these issues seriously.”

protein wisdom: “Yeah, that’s nice, but let me ask you this: has that head of yours ever gotten, y’know, stuck in a revolving door, anything like that? Because with a head that size — and I’d like to stress again for the benefit of my readers just how huge it is up close — I can’t conceive of your not having trouble getting it through a revolving door. Without incident, at least –“

Kennedy: “No. I’ve never had a problem with revolving doors, Mr. Wisdom. But as I was saying, when I think of the economy, I think of a number of factors. I think of the issues of the jobs. And we know that all — with each of the new jobs, they are averaging $8,000 less in pay than the jobs they replaced. And we’re still two million jobs less than the jobs that we had at the time that this administration, the Bush administration, took office. We — certainly the 300,000 that were added last week is a hopeful sign. But when we’re talking about the economy, we’re talking about the jobs that are paying less. The average pay is about 21 percent less for the new jobs created. We’re also thinking about the cost of health care. The average cost for working families has gone up 43 percent. And so many people have dropped health care. The economy is also reflected in the fact that tuition has gone up 23 percent. And the tax cut nowhere near comes near to paying those. So working families — working families are working much longer. They’re working much harder. And they’re falling further behind. And that is the description — that is what I’m concerned about. And also, we have an administration that opposes raising the minimum wage for seven years. We’re paying $5.15. This administration has been opposed and is also threatening to take away overtime for workers. And even for those that have been unemployed, now let the unemployment compensation fund lapse. You know, it just seems that working families, working people are just left behind with this administration, in a way which is really quite different from past administrations.”

protein wisdom: “Yes, working people left behind, blah blah blah, gotcha. Seriously, though. It’s like your neck gave birth to a giant ham, if you don’t mind my saying. I expect you can’t wear any kind of pullover sweaters, am I right? — it’s all V-necks for you…?”

Kennedy: “Not at all. I mean, I have pullover sweaters and I have V-neck sweaters. I try not to limit myself to just one sweater style. Pullover-wise, I like Irish fisherman sweaters. From Galway. I have about 30 of them, in fact. And for the record, I’m quite proud of my head — just as I’m proud of my service to this country and of the label ‘liberal.’ I don’t run from the label. But I think what Americans are looking for, more than labels — I think this administration would like to run on labels, because they have a basically weak record. Certainly they do in domestic affairs and in dealing with the economy and education and health care. But the fact is the American people want more than labels, and they want more than slogans. They want to know which of the candidates, whether it’s this administration or John Kerry, is going to offer a vision and see a restoration of our economy, and an expanding and growing economy. And also a vision about what this country is going to be, not only for the people of this country, what we’re going to represent around the world. John Kerry is going to have a positive, hopeful message — “

protein wisdom: “– Kerry’s got a big head, too, come to think of it — kind of long and thin, like you’d expect to find on a racing dog… But it’s nothing like yours. A fleshy, magnificent anvil with ears is what you’ve got. It’s spectacular –“

Kennedy: “– And that, I think, is what Americans are going to really respond to. I think this administration is going to continue to try and look at labels, slogans, cliches, negative ads. I don’t think over the long term Americans will buy that. What they’re looking for is really — they’re looking for addressing the kinds of issues that people are most concerned about in their daily lives: education, health care, health care costs, accessibility of health care. And quit it with the big-headed stuff, okay?”

protein wisdom: “I’m afraid that’s impossible, Senator. It’s like I’m sitting across the table from a full moon. I have to stare. But I will ask you this: you said several weeks back that Iraq is George Bush’s Vietnam, and that this country needs a new president. Vietnam was started under a Democratic administration. How do you compare the two, Senator Bighead.”

Kennedy: “We’re facing a quagmire in Iraq, just as we faced a quagmire in Vietnam. We didn’t understand what we were getting ourselves into in Vietnam. We didn’t understand what we were doing in — in Iraq. We had misrepresentations about what we were able to do militarily in Vietnam. I think we are finding that out in Iraq, as well. That is basically the similarity. And we have to find new leadership in order to — to be able to resolve this with a sense of dignity and with a sense of respect, which is going to make sure that we’re going to see an independent Iraq, that Americans are brought home with dignity.”

protein wisdom: “Cutting and running — is that what passes for dignity in the land of the Big Heads? Tell me, do they have lots of pie in Big Headed Land, Senator? Because you look like you enjoy a slice or two of pie from time to time. Am I right? — lots of pie in Big Head land? A dietary staple of the giant headed people –?”

Kennedy: “Name calling. That’s all you people do –“

protein wisdom: “– ‘you people’, Senator? You mean people who can buy their hats right off the rack –?”

Kennedy: “– I mean, here we had Mr. Clarke come up and make his presentation, and we saw the most vicious kind of attacks on him by the administration. We had General Shinseki on the Armed Services Committee make projections and predictions of what was going to happen in Iraq. And they dumped all over him. This is a technique. And I would hope that this aspect of the administration’s assault on those that have been critical of the Iraqi policy and are showing to be correct in their predictions — I would hope that that kind of character assassination would be set aside. Beyond that, what we want to do is to find out what are the lessons that we can learn from this experience, that can hopefully give us a course, a path to the future so it can be avoided in the future.”

protein wisdom: “Yes. We must avoid ‘it’ at all costs. Wanna know the lesson I’ve learned from this experience, Senator?”

Kennedy: “You’re going to say something about the size of my head, aren’t you? You’re like a one-trick pony –“

protein wisdom: “Oh, you’re so close! I was going to point out that your head is the size of Paul Simon — that it’s like you’ve got an entire Jewish singer-songwriter poking up out of your collar — “

Kennedy: “Yes, how serendipitous for me. But if I may, I’d like to talk about the June 30th deadline for handing over power to the Iraqi governing authority. The date has been set. And obviously, to try and get the target, the bullseye, off the backs of Americans, as they are represented as occupiers and not liberators, that has to be something that we have to be successful at or we’re going to have a very long, bloody, difficult, costly — additionally costly fight. The idea of transitioning into the Iraqi sovereignty makes some sense, but that date of June 30 — I believe when it was set, it was timed more to American elections than it was with regarding the development of the Iraqis to be able to achieve their own sovereignty –“

protein wisdom: “– You’re speaking, of course, of the early July elections that take place in the Land of the Giant Headed Senators, correct –?”

Kennedy: ” — the real question now, I think, is who are they going to turn the power and authority over to? Certainly, that is not very clear today, and that is something that has to be addressed.”

protein wisdom: “What do you gather is public opinion concerning Iraq, Senator Enormous Head?”

Kennedy: “Very divided. I think the Americans still believe that somehow Iraq was involved in the — in 9/11 and that Saddam had some connection with it and that there was a danger of nuclear capability that would have threatened the world. And that if we didn’t do something immediate, that Saddam was going to turn all of his weapons of mass destruction over to terrorists. There was complete distortion and misrepresentation among the Armed Services Committee. I not only listened to the testimony, but you could listen to the open testimony, and if you listened to those military men, highly decorated, highly competent, that predicted what was going to happen there, you would have voted no. I did vote no. But the point — the most important point is that Iraq has been a distraction from our attack on al Qaeda. I think most people believe now if we’d given the full force and attention that we gave to Iraq and put that in pursuit of Osama bin Laden, we could have been successful in locating him and could have dealt a fatal blow to al Qaeda. And now what we’re facing is a hydra-headed terrorist group around the world. And it’s more complicated, more difficult. And as I said, Iraq has become this administration’s Vietnam –“

protein wisdom: “– ‘Hydra-headed,’ heh. That’s a good one. I’m going to have to remember that one –“

Kennedy: “– And I’m standing by that assessment. I believe that there has to be an alteration or change. I believe that there is no way that this administration can develop the confidence internationally from any of the neighboring states in order to be able to build the kind of a policy where we could see the United States see a free and developed, independent Iraq and American forces brought home. I think you — there is no credibility left for this administration, and that part of the world needs a change. I think John Kerry has the background, the war experience, somebody that’s seen war, understands war, and the foreign policy experience to give us a new opportunity to see this resolved, where we can bring Americans home with honor. That’s what we’re all interested in. And I think he’s the man to do it.”

protein wisdom: “Yes, perhaps he’ll bring them home with honor, then accuse them all of raping babies and the like. I look forward to it. But I’d like to get back to that head of yours, which as I say is gargantuan. Where do you buy headphones, may I ask? Do you have them custom made? I mean, can the Japanese — a smallish people, generally speaking — even conceive of making headphones big enough to fit that skincovered beerkeg of yours –?”

Kennedy: “The Japanese, Mr. Wisdom, conceived of Godzilla, did they not? Not that I wish to dignify your question, but facts are facts are facts. Getting back to Senator Kerry, though… I think you’ll see from Mr. Kerry a hopeful message, an upbeat message, a vision about what he wants to do here at home, particularly with regards to the economy, which is the key to all the hopes and dreams of families. And also, I think you’re going to get a sense from this campaign the kind of leadership that he would provide in terms of national security here at home, in dealing with the challenge of terrorism abroad, and how he would be a leader within the free world community and get this issue behind us and address many of the other international issues.”

protein wisdom: “Yes, I know. He’ll go to the UN, swell, I feel safer already… Tell me about car windows, though. Can you poke that giant melon of yours out of a car window to, say, check your blind spot? Without smacking it into street signs or telephone poles, I mean –?”

Kennedy: “I don’t wish to talk about driving, thank you –“

protein wisdom: ” — Oh, yeah, that bridge thing, right… That had to suck, eh? Anyway, sorry –“

Kennedy: ” — too much to ask to get through an entire interview without trotting out that tired old chestnut — “

protein wisdom: ” — And thanks so much for doing this. All very edifying, Senator. Now go. It’s Happy Hour. Order yourself some mozzarella sticks, some potato skins, have yourself a drink or something. You’ve certainly earned it. And your hands are beginning to shake, I see –“

Kennedy: “– A drink? As in one drink? No offense, son, but where the hell have you been…?”

update: Not a protein wisdom interview.

update 2: Also not a protein wisdom interview.

Posted by Jeff G. @ 8:30pm

Comments (32)

  1. Jeff:

    I think you’ve, um, distilled things quite nicely here.  The upcoming election is an epic battle between the Fatheads, for whom policy & performance matter, and the Pinheads, who revel in aspersion, however hilarious.  Really, this interview strikes me as perfectly capturing what a conversation between Kerry and Bush would be like.  Can’t wait for the debates.

    Too, I would imagine that Teddy Largocephalic has driven no more times drunk than George, nor do I believe has he killed any more passengers than Laura.

  2. Dunno about that last bit.  Plenty of bodies of water to drag around the Cape.

    And let’s face it:  everybody looks pinheaded next to Teddy.  He’s get one of them college-sized refrigerators on his shoulders.  Stuffed with beer, too.  But that’s just incidental.

  3. if only he would finally just lay down, take one last breathe and fall asleep like the normal configured people

  4. GOD.



    (your tip jar is SO getting hit in 10 seconds…)

    “Seriously, though. It’s like your neck gave birth to a giant ham, if you don’t mind my saying. I expect you can’t wear any kind of pullover sweaters, am I right?”


  5. whoa, thought Jeff was practicing a little Narcissism there Jeff BBbbbB.  Not that he wouldn’t… and not that there’s anything wrong with that.

    And obviously Ted Kennedy moonlights as Mayor McCheese.

  6. I know – I sow confusion wherever I go, with my inconvenient first name.

    Jeff G, change your goddamn name, okay?  Make it easy on me.

  7. If Instapundit is correct and he and other bloggers have killed the newspapers as traditional sources of news, you have just done the same, Sir, to Saturday Night Live with respect to comedy.  Thanks very much for that laugh. This should go on the Greatest Hits list with a bullet.

  8. That was the funniest thing I have ever read. Thank you. It actually made me forget Berg knew Moussaui.

  9. That was beyond hilarious.  This thing will spread through the blogosphere like wildfire.  We all maybe need to lighten up occasionally.  Thanks

  10. Brilliant.

    But I would like to know more about the scandalous conditions under which innocents are held against their will, forced to submit to sexual abuse and rape, and are humiliated while those in authority do nothing to enforce discipline among those they are responsible for.

    Abu Ghraib? No. The Kennedy Family’s Palm Beach Estate.

  11. wait a minute… did you graduate in ‘83 from Randallstown?

  12. Right school, wrong year. But close.  Do I know you?

  13. You forget to add “Now you listen to me, Protein! You may have it with other places but you don’t interrupt me when I’m talking!”

  14. The reason that Teddy Kennedy’s head is so large is that his liver decided to move up there when it figured out his brain wasn’t using the blood supply.

  15. Brainstorm: the Ted Kennedy Head Kegerator.  Oh man, I’m going to make a killing off this.

  16. That interview is all the more profound since you seem to have caught Ted in that fleeting time between the end of a hangover and the beginning of an all-out binge.  I swear, the number of times he calls himself “The Senior Senator from Massaquiddick…”

  17. I went to Randallstown HS.  Until I was a junior and then God and Exxon moved us to Texas [thank you Lord!!!!]

    I hear they have drive-by shooting in the curriculum nowadays.  Sorry I had to miss that.

  18. So Mr. FancyPants,

    “I was going to point out that your head is the size of Paul Simon—that it’s like you’ve got an entire Jewish singer-songwriter poking up out of your collar—“

    One question Goldstein, what have you got against Garfunkel, you bastaaaahd?

    On a serious note, did the Paul Simon reference have anything whatsoever to do with, like, like, like a bridge over troubled waters? How dare you bring up

    Oh, how do I say it …??? … you … you, Goldstein … you’ve got a gift.

  19. Would Ted Kennedy be Senator if there was a web cam in the car while Mary Jo drowned?

    I bet that he can really understand Saddam’s burying alive of an entire family in their car, and probably does wonder what the big deal is.

  20. Unfortunately, that big melon is composed of mostly bone, with a walnut-sized brain directly between those big red ears. If the DoD could develop a helmet of that density there would be few head wounds.

  21. Two times I read this, and still can’t find the device. Gotta be here somewhere, these are the senator’s own finest phrases, undoctored, the best combos of precision sounds the minions of the Royal TennisBums can trotsky out of their unstables for little Tedligula to honk westward across hickdom! How in the world did this interview do that? No wonder the sinater from the state of Massivedumbshits so desperately desires to be so full of hot air! Would that he had such substance! His leadership such meaning!

  22. That’s funny, I always thought Ted Kennedy was beginning to look like Marlon Brando in his old age….

  23. Errah, that was an, uhm, um, outstanding, errah, intahview with an an uhm, err, Kennedy.

    thanks for um, errah, um, edahting out all of the err, uhm, awkward, err, uhm pauses that the Kennedys are, errah, umm…known for.

    thankfully not all of the Irish up here are alcohol-addled morons like this embarassing clan

  24. Jeff;

    No one could work harder at dividing us than Teddy. But who listens to an old drunk?

    I’d like to see Terrorists try and cut his head off! It was probably easier to take down the towers.

    George B.

  25. It might do some good, and then again it might not. But can you imagine Teddy’s gin-blossom face when I send a copy of this petition for his resignation to every member of the Senate… with comments included?

  26. “A fleshy, magnificent anvil with ears is what you’ve got. It’s spectacular –”

    Classic – you said ‘fleshy’….

  27. IT SAID: “…funny, I always thought Ted Kennedy was beginning to look like Marlon Brando in his old age…”


    Would that he looked like Brando now.

    Q: If God truly invented whiskey to keep the Irish (from which I’m descended) from ruling the world, then why did he invent Teddy?

    A: That pesky “omniscience thing,” coupled with the sudden realization that he’d invented waaaay too much whiskey probably tipped him off that making Teddy would be cheaper than having to pay the SooperFund disposal fees.

    Cheaper for Him, but not to us.

    Also, if the Jimmy Carter and the lawyers ever get hold of this, I fear for the timeliness (“punctiliosity” minus the obsequiousity) of my impending rapture.

  28. Yipee! THANK YOU. This interview is my favorite, it really “well, it’s stunning, frankly.”

  29. Thank you, Mr. Wisdom !

  30. One of the best interviews Ted Kennedy has had in a while. smile

  31. This is still one of my all-time favorite posts, at any website. Truly a classic.

  32. Pingback: Corey Haim’s “Notes from the afterlife,” 18 | protein wisdom