The story

Sen. Ted Kennedy would have had a "very, very difficult" time politically surviving the drowning death of a young woman if it happened in the era of blogs, talk radio and 24-hour news cycles, experts said.

Mary Jo Kopechne, 28, drowned after Kennedy drove his Oldsmobile off a bridge following a regatta party in July 1969. The incident on Chappaquiddick Island, Massachusetts, helped dash the youngest Kennedy brother's chances at the Oval Office in 1972 and 1980.

Massachusetts was more forgiving than the rest of the nation, however, backing Kennedy by a 3-to-2 margin in his 1970 bid to keep his Senate seat. That his brothers, John and Robert, had been assassinated in recent years may have been a factor, experts said. Watch Kennedy attend brother Robert's funeral

"Great expectations and great tragedy has always been the storyline of the Kennedys," said Christopher Arterton, dean of George Washington University's graduate school of political management. "The people of Massachusetts were prepared to forgive a lot of transgressions."

Kennedy vanished to the family compound for days after the incident, huddling with advisers before emerging the following week to plead guilty to leaving the scene of an accident. A judge suspended his two-month jail sentence. Read full article »

All About Edward M. KennedyMassachusetts

A Celebration of Life
CNN covers the death of Sen. Ted Kennedy, including the memorial tonight and the funeral Saturday.
CNN and CNN.com; today-Saturday

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