Okay, okay. That wasn't exactly what Ted Kennedy said to the Pope on the eve of his death. Sorry. Here is what he really wrote, knowing, of course, that it would be made public after his death:
"Your Most Holiness,
Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned.
At Harvard I cheated, and I paid a friend to cheat by taking a test for me. Spanish was difficult for me. Though the expulsion from Harvard was worse. Forgive me, Father.
During law school at UVA, I was caught driving recklessly four times. Once I even raced a police officer who was trying to pull me over. My speedometer hit 90 miles per hour. Following the speed limit was hard, because it seemed like the rules didn't apply to me.
My first wife, Joan, had a really hard time with Chappaquiddick. You see, Your Most Holiness, I was out whooping it up with my married guy friends and the single "Boiler Room Girls" who had worked on my brother's campaign.
We weren't doing anything immoral but it was wrong of me to go back to my hotel room that night and not report that Mary Jo Kopechne was at the bottom of the pond, trapped in my car, drowning, until the next morning. I was in shock, Your Holiness, and utterly exhausted. Oh, and I had a concussion, too. Forgive me, Father, for my physical frailties.
On another fateful night, at our Palm Beach compound, I woke up my son and my nephew in the middle of the night when I couldn't sleep. I took them out carousing at a local nightclub. When we got back, Willie had sex on the beach with a young woman he'd "picked up." She said he raped her.
Tragically, my credibility as a witness was questioned when several people said I was wandering around the house in my underwear afterwards. Alcohol has been a relentless temptation for me. Forgive me, Father, for this physical frailty.
Then there was the night I went out drinking with my pal Chris Dodd. When our dates were in the bathroom, I threw a hapless waitress into Dodd's lap and then I fell on top of her. I don't think she liked it. But that "waitress sandwich" was so much fun, Your Holiness. Forgive me, Father, for my lack of self restraint."
Most Holy Father, I asked President Obama to personally hand-deliver this letter to you. As a man of deep faith himself, he understands how important my Roman Catholic faith is to me, and I am so deeply grateful to him.I hope this letter finds you in good health. I pray that you have all of God's blessings as you lead our church and inspire our world during these challenging times. I am writing with deep humility to ask that you pray for me as my own health declines. I was diagnosed with brain cancer more than a year ago, and although I continue treatment, the disease is taking its toll on me. I am 77 years old and preparing for the next passage of life.
I have been blessed to be part of a wonderful family. And both of my parents, particularly my mother, kept our Catholic faith at the center of our lives. That gift of faith has sustained and nurtured and provided solace to me in the darkest hours. I know that I have been an imperfect human being, but with the help of my faith, I have tried to right my path.
I want you to know, Your Holiness, that in my nearly 50 years of elective office, I have done my best to champion the rights of the poor and open doors of economic opportunity. I have worked to welcome the immigrant, to fight discrimination and expand access to health care and education. I have opposed the death penalty and fought to end war. Those are the issues that have motivated me and have been the focus of my work as a United States senator.
I also want you to know that even though I am ill, I'm committed to doing everything I can to achieve access to health care for everyone in my country. This has been the political cause of my life. I believe in a conscience protection for Catholics in the health field and I'll continue to advocate for it as my colleagues in the Senate and I work to develop an overall national health policy that guarantees health care for everyone.
I have always tried to be a faithful Catholic, Your Holiness, and though I have fallen short through human failings, I have never failed to believe and respect the fundamental teachings of my faith. I continue to pray for God's blessings on you and on our church and would be most thankful for your prayers for me.Alrighty then. You might love the guy and I might just want my television back. But enough is enough, already. And at least there is one point on which we all can agree: he was a consummate politician, even on his death bed.