In light of the fact that Sen. Teddy Kennedy feels lawyer-client privileged materials should be produced in the case of a public servant – such as John Roberts – we now continue with my imaginary version of Teddy’s confidential communications with his lawyer the day after he drove Mary Jo Kopechne off a bridge at Chappaquiddick.
Interview with client Teddy Kennedy, July 19, 1969 (based on the facts in Leo Damore’s book “Senatorial Privilege: The Chappaquiddick Cover-Up”):
Lawyer: Let’s get back to the night of the accident. Why didn’t you call the police?
Teddy: Stop nagging me! Mary Jo was driving. I wasn’t even in the car.
Lawyer: No, Teddy. People saw you leave the party together.
Teddy: I had spurned her sexual advances and the poor girl was distraught. That’s probably why she drove off the bridge.
Lawyer: A police officer saw you behind the driver’s wheel speeding toward the bridge with a blonde in the passenger seat shortly before the accident.
Teddy: I asked Mary Jo to take the wheel after realizing I was too drunk to drive.
Lawyer: Now I know you’re lying.
Teddy: How would that cop like a new NASA facility named after him?
Lawyer: You were soaking wet when you got back to the cottage.
Teddy: I went for a swim.
Lawyer: Fully clothed?
Teddy: I like to go for a little dip after a night of drinking and attempted extramarital sex. It clears my head.
Lawyer: There were any number of houses with lights on near the bridge – these are people who like you, Teddy – but they can’t understand why you didn’t ask them to call for help.
Teddy: I can’t remember anything that happened that night! It seems like I was wandering for days, dizzy from the loss of oxygen after my heroic attempts to rescue Mary Jo. If you think about it, it was a lot like my brother Jack’s rescue of his men on PT-109. He was driving when the ship got hit, and he didn’t save all of them either. (Teddy singing now) The car was in, the Chappaquiddick bay, fearless man, who jumps and swims, a man who means, just what he says …
Lawyer: What are you doing?
Teddy: It’s a song I’m writing. I call it “The Ballad of Mary Jo.”
Lawyer: You already told your confidant Paul Markham and your cousin Joseph Gargan the truth.
Teddy: Yes, get those names. They’ll back me. Mary Jo was driving.
Lawyer: You’re going to ask all these people to perjure themselves for you?
Teddy: I already have. They’re balking of course, but I left them no choice.
Lawyer: What do you mean you’ve left them no choice?
Teddy: When they dropped me at the dock after they tried diving for Mary Jo, I told them I would report the accident the moment I got back to my hotel. But they knew I was lying. An hour went by and no police had come by to question them? They knew I hadn’t reported it. They’re as guilty as I am!
Lawyer: Well, arguably, you are more guilty, inasmuch as you drove off the bridge —
Teddy: Mary Jo was driving. And I’ve been drowning my sorrows ever since. Get it? “Drowning my sorrows”? Can I at least have a beer?
Lawyer: – and then you went to absurd lengths back at the hotel to create an alibi for yourself – drying off and changing clothes, making a point of complaining to the hotel owner about the noise from the next room even though everyone was sound asleep at that hour, asking the hotel owner to tell you what time it was.
Teddy: That was a nice touch, wasn’t it?
Lawyer: How can you explain that behavior as anything other than trying to create an alibi?
Teddy: Are you listening? I’m a married man! Mary Jo was a babe! I was drunk, speeding toward a secluded beach with her. Do you think we were going to look for seashells? Now how would that look?
Lawyer: Hey – what are you doing with that neck brace?
Teddy: Look! Now it’s a hat! Hey – there aren’t any cameras in here, are there?
Lawyer: I don’t know how I’m going to get you out of this …
Teddy: Do you know who I am? I am a Kennedy! JFK, Jackie O, Camelot, Prohibition-era rum-running Kennedy clan – any of that ring a bell? The judge is a Democrat, and the weenie DA keeps sending me mash notes promising not to prosecute. Ha ha! He must think I need a new chauffeur!
Lawyer: You are in a lot of trouble, Teddy.
Teddy: I’ve got it all in hand. Hey, I’m feeling a little loaded. Which side of this neck brace is up? My press conference is in 10 minutes.