I met Senator Ted Kennedy in 2000 when I was working at MassComm College (now called AI New England). It was an election year and Kennedy was stopping by the college to talk about communication issues and press the flesh. (I don’t remember if he ran unopposed that year.) Pre 9/11 I leaned more to the left than I do today. (I voted for Nader that year. Doh!)
I was excited to meet him because of his brothers. This was the brother of JFK and RFK! Chappaquiddick never entered my head.
Kennedy arrived around noon and the college had a luncheon spread for him and the staff. The one thing that struck me was that he never looked anyone in the eye. It was strange. Even if you were standing face to face, he always looked off to the left or right, never straight on. He started his speech and I could tell he was on auto pilot. The opening was a quick few lines about the importance of modern communication technologies but the rest of the speech was a canned stump speech.
His staffers kept looking at their watches to make sure sure he wasn’t running behind on his schedule. Besides this wasn’t Harvard or MIT, MassComm was just a small 2-year school. After his speech, Kennedy posed with staff for a few pictures and then he was escorted back to his tinted-windowed sedan.
At the time, I was not anti-Kennedy but I remember being disappointed. He seemed a shell of a man. Goodness knows what was going on with his health or in his personal life. Since that encounter whenever I noticed him on t.v., I watched to see if he was looking at the person he was talking to or away.
It was hit or miss.