Over at the Acton Institute, I penned a review of the new film “Chappaquiddick.” My main point was to go deeper than the political partisanship that largely still drives the tragic incident from almost 50 years ago. The major critical players in the saga are now dead so it’s essentially unhelpful to use the tragedy as a talking point to try and claim any partisan superiority.
Chappaquiddick derailed a possible future presidency for the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy. The abuse of power and cover-up by the Kennedy clan was immense, but I think the film allows us to see the limits we need to place on government too. We sometimes believe government can transform society and make for us a new beginning, but the people leading us are so often deeply flawed. They too are constrained by our fallen nature, often more so because of the temptation and lure of power. Ronald Reagan once asked, “But if no one among us is capable of governing himself, then who among us has the capacity to govern someone else?” Chappaquiddick definitely helps to reinforce that truth.
From the review:
The crash occurred just two days before the Apollo 11 moon landing on July 20, 1969. While the lunar landing knocked the tragedy off the front page, it also contrasted man’s highest technological achievement with our deeply fallen and sinister nature. The 1960s, particularly at the decade’s outset, was a time of high ideals. President John F. Kennedy heralded a “New Frontier.” It was a decade too of enormous political and moral failings that reminded Americans that while it could land a man on the moon and safely return him home, there remain limits at the core of man’s being, depicted so well at decade’s end through Chappaquiddick.