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Ted Kennedy On The Rocks--But Collateral Damage For Chris Dodd?


Up now on GQ’s Web site is the late Michael Kelly’s exhaustively reported, beautifully written “Ted Kennedy on the Rocks,” a lengthy evisceration of Massachusetts’ senior Senator which was published in 1990.

I’m glad to see it online, finally, because it’s one of my favorite magazine profiles of all time. But I wonder what it means for Senator Chris Dodd’s nascent Presidential campaign. Because while Kelly’s piece primarily takes dead aim at many of Senator Kennedy’s shenanigans, it takes secondary aim at Dodd’s, who in the piece is identified as Kennedy’s “drinking buddy.” (Dodd’s office, wrote Kelly, “did not return numerous calls.”)

The usual caveats apply: all that’s portrayed in the piece happened a long time ago, and major pieces about Dodd today note his status as a happily married father of two small children.

That said: Kelly quotes an inveterate DC observer describing Kennedy and Dodd as “two guys in a fraternity who have been loosed upon the world,” and cites testimony to some rather astonishing drinking:

In a “standard evening,” she [a waitress at a favored haunt] says, each man would knock off half to three quarters of a bottle of hard liquor, then switch to wine or champagne, and sometimes then to after-dinner drinks: “They would [sometimes] stay at the restaurant till three o’clock in the morning, just drinking and drinking. By the time they got up, they could hardly stand.”

What’s worse is there’s also Dodd’s complicity in one instance of Kennedy’s drunken acting-out that I have the distinct feeling my BusinessWeek bosses would prefer I not describe here, but which can be found on this page.

(And which prompts this pithy Kellyism, “Drunks are notoriously poor judges of distance, including the distance between fun and assault.”)

I’ve yet to see much reference to Dodd’s past as described in this article surfacing in the press, and I can’t imagine his aides are thrilled it is now.

And, I just have to say this again: Kelly’s piece is a fabulous, fabulous piece of writing.

UPDATE: The New Republic’s The Plank weighed in on this a few days ago.


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