Today was a day that we know would come with the knowledge that Senator Kennedy had a particularly aggressive and terminal brain tumor. I think it is fitting to reflect a bit on the passing of a political and cultural icon. I will post in the next few days about the upcoming special election, but reserve today as a day free of politics and want to say a few words about the person who Edward Moore Kennedy was.
Senator Kennedy was first elected to the Senate in 1962, four years before I was born so for my entire life he has been the senior senator from Massachusetts. Personally, I shared little of his political ideology, but he is and will be reckoned amongst the greats of American public life. Massachusetts has lost an advocate and political giant.
Politically, he was a true old-fashioned liberal who never wavered in his beliefs (there is much to be admired in that trait) yet he would compromise and take half a loaf whenever possible. His mark was on a great deal of the legislation that has passed over the last 40 years. Bill Bennett, a prominent conservative writer, referred to him as the "bane of conservatives" in a tribute published today and that is a very apt statement. He practiced politics in an old-fashioned way, yet his endorsement of Barrack Obama helped vault his candidacy past Hillary Clinton last year. The torch was indeed passed.
He had a well-deserved reputation for constituent services as he was a very accessible senator with an excellent staff to cut red tape and speed people through bureaucracy. I have heard numerous stories today on how he was able to help ordinary people. That is something that truly has impact on the lives of people, many of whom who were not of means.
To me, the most important aspect of Ted Kennedy was acting as a father figure to his nephews and nieces and being the glue throughout the tragedies that has defined the Kennedy Family for over half a century. That says a lot about Ted the person and his heart.
God Speed and Good Rest...ye will be missed.