Friday, May 05, 2006

Can I trust a Kennedy?

OK. I was ready to defend Patrick Kennedy. As you may know, he ran his car into a security barrier at about 2:45am Thursday morning, but was not at that time arrested or checked for alcohol -- instead he was driven home.

He later issued a statement that he was on two prescription medications which made him drowsy and disoriented. He says he was not drinking. Instead, after taking the medication, he mistakenly thought he was late for a vote, and was driving to the capitol when he ran his car aground.

Obviously this is a republican's dream -- we can make fun of another Kennedy for being a drunk. But when I read about the medication, I was ready to believe his story. After all, there is no testimony that Pat himself ASKED to be let off without a breath test, or that he pulled strings himself. And I could imagine how a mix of prescription drugs could cause one to become disoriented.

Of course, I still wanted him charged for driving under the influence -- after all, we had a guy in Prince William who was sentenced to 5 years in prison for falling asleep at the wheel and causing another driver to swerve of the road. So while I wanted to give him a pass on the deliberate drunk driving bit, we can't let people go scot free just because they weren't fully in charge of themselves.

But now, I'm wondering if I was stupid to believe Pat. I thought it was safe -- I mean, how could he make up a story about the House physician giving him a prescription? That's so easy to check out -- there would be records, the physician could be allowed to testify, there's pharmacy records, and Pat would have the pills.

But today the Boston Herald reports that a woman at a bar saw him drinking hours before the accident:

WASHINGTON -U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy insisted yesterday that he had consumed “no alcohol” before he slammed his Mustang convertible into a concrete barrier near his office, but a hostess at a popular Capitol Hill watering hole told the Herald she saw him drinking in the hours before the crash.

“He was drinking a little bit,” said the woman, who works at the Hawk & Dove and would not give her name.

Now, it could be he just stopped for a drink on the way home, and didn't consume nearly enough to be drunk. A little alchohol, along with his prescriptions, would be a very bad mix.

But now that he seems to have lied about drinking at all, it will be that much harder for him to argue that he DID drink, but just a little bit.

So it could be he didn't do anything wrong, or maybe he got stone drunk and nearly hit an officer's car before crashing into a barrier. We'll probably never know the truth -- but it could well be we'll know Pat wasn't truthful with his FIRST explanation.

Or it could be that this hostess is mistaken. Funny thing is, the police who maybe thought they were doing him a favor may have done him a grave disservice. If they had given him a breathalizer test, we would know for certain whether he was drunk or not. And if it came back clcean, as his testimony would suggest, there wouldn't be this cloud of suspicion around him.

But being a Kennedy, and an elected official, I have to believe he could have easily figured out the political angle that I just mentioned -- in which case he should have INSISTED on a breathalizer -- it's what I would have done. The fact that he DIDN'T ask for one is just another factor which will make people believe he was drunk.

UPDATE: So now Kennedy says he's addicted to --- Painkillers. Odd how the previous statement didn't mention painkillers. Also, he now says he can't remember anything about the accident -- whereas in his previous WRITTEN statement he described details regarding the accident.

Either Kennedy is lying, or he is lying. Neither helps me out in my efforts to defend him.

And oddly, NONE of his statements helps me reconcile the statement by police that they smelled alcohol on his breath.

If he's addicted to painkillers, he should get treatment, and we shouldn't give him a hard time about that -- anybody can get addicted to painkillers. I'm on Vicodin right now, and I'm using it sparingly because I don't want to depend on it.

And if Ambien can make people drive while sleeping, we need better warning labels, or maybe people should hide their keys before going to bed.

But if he was drinking, he should just admit it. He can't be prosecuted for being drunk because nobody took a breathalizer. But when he says he had nothing to drink, if the two witnesses and the police turn out to be credible, his passionate plea for understanding will be seen as simply an attempt to change the subject.

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