By: Joseph Sturm  | 

Norman Mailer Speaks On Behalf Of Kennedy; Noted Author Defends Candidate’s Reputation (Vol. 45, Issue 9)

MARCH 20 — The Joseph Dunner Political Science Society sponsored today an address by the renowned author, Norman Mailer, who spoke on behalf of Senator Edward Kennedy. In his opening remarks, Mr. Mailer stated that he would not deal with any of the aspects of the Carter Administration's Israel policy since that issue was “pretty clear.” Indeed, during his twenty minute speech in Rubin Shul, Mr. Mailer did not raise the topic of Iarael nor any other tangible policy question of the presidential campaign, but rather emphasized a distinction between candidate Carter and Kennedy solely on the basis of personalities.

Carter — Negative Energy

Mr. Mailer began his character contrast by noting that although President Carter is “an intelligent and hard working man,” he has been a huge disappointment considering his lackluster performance and the aura of impotence now emanating from the White House. In addition, Mr. Mailer severely censured Carter for being “not only boring but also a negative energy center at the heart of the country.” He further stressed that this lack of liveliness ut the center of the nation may be causing the general fall in productivity now afflicting all segments of the American economy.

“Senator Kennedy” on the other hand is “a man who could bring energy to the presidency,” a man who has been strengthened by the tribulations that have befallen him. Mailer continued, “Kennedy has suffered through the assassinations of his two brothers, his son’s cancer, several turbulent years of marriage with his wife and, of course, Chappaquidick. This trauma would have been enough to destroy any average man, yet Kennedy kept his balance and stability.” In fact. Mailer suggested that the incident at Chappaquidick and the great introspection that Edward Kennedy has undergone since then has transformed Kennedy into “a man who understands the depths of human experience.” Mr. Mailer further observed that Senator Kennedy has worked extremely hard for the past several years and is regarded as a leader in the Senate.

Pressing Chappaquidick

In the brief question and answer period following the speech, Mr. Mailer was pressed by a student on the subject of Chappaquidick. In particular, the student wondered why, if the Senator has truly undergone so much self-analysis, has he not offered a satisfactory full disclosure of the events of that night. Mr. Mailer proposed the hypothesis that Mr. Kennedy might have been “temporarily deranged” that night, forcing him to act in an irrational manner. To this day, says Mailer, Kennedy has not been able to come to terms with that temporary mental derangement. Many students reacted to the speech with mild disappointment due to Mr. Mailer’s failure to discuss any concrete issues. Several students did, however, approach Mr. Mailer after the address for his autograph.