For months now, government officials have debated whether to continue issuing driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants. What I want to know is, how much longer are we going to keep giving them to Kennedys?

Congressman Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.) is, by all accounts, not a smart man. Washingtonian magazine regularly lists him as one of the dumbest members of the U.S. Congress — an impressive feat in an organization whose membership includes both Cynthia McKinney and Henry Brown.

Patrick Kennedy is, by his own account, hopelessly addicted to drugs. According to regulars at Capitol Hill bars, he’s also a serious drinker. In just the past five months, he’s been in rehab twice, been charged with seven driving related offenses, caused two car wrecks, and, before all this, he even managed to wreck a yacht.

Oh, and Patrick Kennedy is one more thing: A lead-pipe cinch to be re-elected to the Congress of the United States. He’s the Marion Barry of Congress. Nobody is ever going to hold him responsible for his actions. Least of all himself.

And so it came to pass that, just days after Rep. Kennedy went careening through the streets of Washington, stoned out of his gourd and smelling of gimlets, the Democratic Party overwhelmingly nominated him to another term as their Congressman. Patrick, alas, was unable to attend. At that very moment, he was checked into the Mayo Clinic’s drug rehab center.

There was a time when candidates wouldn’t allow themselves to be photographed holding a glass of Merlot at a fundraiser, much less admit a decade-long addiction to opiates on national TV. There was a time when female staffers slipped up the hotel’s back stairs to spend some, er, “face time” with a candidate — married or single.

This week, Congressman Patrick Kennedy actually incorporated the fact that he was in bed with a “female friend” into his alibi. He was sacked out at her place, he insists, and not out drinking at the Hawk and Dove. She tried to get him to stay in bed — honest!

OK, Congressman, Whatever you say…

So what does a Democrat tell himself as he marches proudly into the polling place to cast his vote for Pill Poppin’ Pat? That handling billion-dollar budgets on the House Appropriations Committee while stoned out of your mind is no big deal? Do you really want to trust the details of running our democratic republic to the hands of a man who can’t be trusted with a CVS card?

I couldn’t. But that’s why I’m not a Democrat. If I got caught with a fistful of prescription drugs or an armload of intern, I’d resign from office out of sheer embarrassment. How stupid of me.

Not a single Democrat — not one — has said publicly that Patrick Kennedy’s drug addiction and reckless public behavior makes him unfit for office. The Clinton Standard is now official: It’s impossible to embarrass a Democrat.

Ashamed of Patrick Kennedy? Of course not. Democrats and their media pals are proud of him. He’s “courageous” for coming out publicly and admitting his addiction. Dana Milbank of the Washington Post called him a “victim of the Kennedy curse.”

Cursed. A courageous “victim.” The next time you’re sitting on the side of the road waiting for a cop to write up that speeding ticket destined to ruin your driving record and raise your insurance rates, be comforted by this thought: At least you’re not a Kennedy.

Patrick Kennedy made no courageous confession. A courageous confession is the kind you make before you get caught. Courage would be to admit: “Hey, I’m too stoned to do this job. I’m leaving to go get help.”

The Kennedys have “Chappaquiddick courage.” Hide out for a day after the crime, get special treatment from the cops, then come up with some bizarre, unbelievable story like, “Ambien turned me into an out-of-control, sleep-driving zombie!”

On Thursday, Kennedy remembered everything he’d done on the night in question, in particular that he never asked the cop he almost ran over for “special consideration.” On Friday, Kennedy suddenly couldn’t remember a thing, except for his sudden recollection of taking some prescription drugs he hadn’t mentioned earlier.

By Saturday, Kennedy had already been declared a hero and absolved of all sin. The Capitol Hill police official who stopped him from getting a field sobriety test is in more trouble than the Congressman is.

“People love him,” Rhode Island Democrat Bill Tavares said proudly. “People accept the Kennedys. Everyone knows they’re going to get in trouble — and everyone knows they’ll get out of it.”

Curses? If so, they’ve been foiled again.

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