Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Edward Kennedy 1932-2009

We all knew this day was coming after the Senator's diagnoses of Brain Cancer. He put up a good fight and lived a full life. This was a man that stood by his principals, his country and the state of Massachusetts. Having grown up in Mass, I want to thank the late Senator for his services over the years. My heart and thoughts go out to his friends and Family. The Senators hard work and leadership will sorely be missed. Edward Kennedy passes at age 77.

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The Boston Globe
Beyond Camelot: His shining moments endure
By Peter S. Canellos, Globe Staff | August 26, 2009

Ted Kennedy played a leading role in perhaps the greatest political drama of the 20th century - the dawning of the New Frontier and the soul-crushing assassinations that followed - but he will be remembered by history for his legislative achievements in health care, education, civil rights, and immigration.

The fact that his tangible accomplishments transcended his mythic role in the Kennedy drama attests to the vast extent of his legislative impact. In each of four areas, he dominated legislative politics for more than four decades, spanning ten presidencies, and played a large role in transforming the government’s relationship to the people.

Bill by bill, provision by provision, he expanded government health support to millions of children and the elderly, helped millions more go to college, opened the immigration doors to millions of new Americans from continents other than Europe, and protected the civil rights bulwark of the ’60s through a long period of conservative domination.

And by the time his life ended yesterday, surrounded by loved ones in a gentle scene that contrasted sharply with the violent deaths of his brothers, Ted Kennedy had built a nuts-and-bolts legacy to stand beside that of his presidential brother as a figure of hope and his senatorial brother as a figure of compassion.

“He was always prepared, always worked hard, really managed to get things done,’’ said Michael Corgan, history professor at Boston University. “He’ll be remembered as the foremost senator of his day.’’

Much of the world, however, is only starting to catch up to Kennedy’s legislative accomplishments, having long ago closed their memory bank on him.

There are still tens of millions of detractors who tuned him out in the ’80s, when, as a symbol of liberal excess who was unable to control his appetites, he seemed to belong to the past.

There are, as well, an equal number of admirers who remember him from an even more distant past, as the young man standing up in the face of unspeakable grief, having lost a second brother to an assassin’s bullet.

“My brother need not be idealized or enlarged in death beyond what he was in life,’’ the 36-year-old senator declared, “but be remembered simply as a good and decent man who saw wrong and tried to right it, saw suffering and tried to heal it, saw war and tried to stop it.’’

Many may never be able to separate him from his brothers, believing him to be either an undeserving heir or a noble keeper of the flame. And for them, his death will close the book on a long-running saga that cut a major swath through American political life.

“Most people will remember him best for his brothers, for picking up the Kennedy flag, and for a series of truly unforgettable speeches,’’ said Don Kettl, dean of the University of Maryland School of Public Policy. “But history will likely remember him best for his legislative accomplishments and his ability to build bipartisan support to translate ambitious ideas into lasting law.’’

In fact, Ted Kennedy was always more consistent than his brothers, a pure liberal who believed in the government’s obligation to help the less fortunate. While Jack Kennedy ran for president as a centrist, and Bobby followed a zigzag path from the anticommunist right to the antiwar left, Ted was always a fixed point on the political map.

While most of his colleagues’ eyes would glaze over at the details of spending bill, Kennedy could easily recite the difference between a formula that gave benefits to families up to 30 percent above the poverty level and one that gave benefits to those 40 percent above. He could say just how many families were in that extra sliver and envision the human beings behind the statistics.

Ironically, the lasting scar on his record will be an incident in which he appeared to show insufficient concern for the life of a woman, Mary Jo Kopechne, who died while riding in his car on Chappaquiddick Island. Kennedy didn’t report the accident for eight hours.

“I think he finally put Chappaquiddick behind him not so much by doing penance but through public service,’’ said Corgan.

That assessment won’t be universally accepted. There are many who will not forgive Kennedy for Chappaquiddick, just as there were many who instantly forgave him out of respect for his family. This was his fate. Memories of deaths - of Jack’s, Bobby’s, Mary Jo Kopechne’s - shadowed him wherever he went.

He found an escape in good works. And it is for those many deeds that he will be deeply and honestly mourned.

The Boston Globe has a good mini series about Senator Kennedy here is the link for it


Anonymous said...

I know they are treating him like he was a king/lion, but if you know much about his past it is not impressive. He was kicked out of college for cheating, was involved in an incident with a girl that cost her her life. He didn't report the accident for 9 hours. Who was he worried about her or himself. His actions turned his wife to the bottle. I will say in the last 15 years he has done better but overall he was not that great a man.. If this happened today he would have been put out of the senate and probably served time... Sorry to change the mood!!
I am not republican and I am catholic so I don't have an ax to grind. I just feel he didn't live responsibly for 60 of his 77 years..

rob02190 said...

I'm not going to disagree with you he was the black sheep of the Kennedy family. He definitely made some poor personal decisions in his lifetime. I was trying to focus only on the positives, and the negatives do balance the scales.

Anonymous said...

He found redemption through public work ?

I don't know.
I do know his name saved him from prison and then there would have been no public works.

And in an entirely parochial point of view like a lot of " Irish " americans was a supporter of the IRA in the early days of the troubles so he does have blood on his hands.

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