The Trail: A Daily Diary of Campaign 2008


Dan Balz's Take

Democratic Party

Obama Mourns Passing of 'a Colleague, a Counselor and a Friend'

Note: Please upgrade your Flash plug-in to view our enhanced content.

Updated 11:09 a.m.
By Michael D. Shear
OAK BLUFFS, Mass. -- Looking grim and sad, President Obama called the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy "a colleague, a counselor and a friend" and hailed a man of public service whose "ideas and ideals are stamped on scores of laws, reflected in millions of lives."

For Obama, Kennedy had been an important mentor whose early persuasion helped nudge him toward a long-shot presidential bid, and whose endorsement was critical in securing the Democratic nomination.

Speaking from the vacation home he has rented here, Obama spoke briefly about his personal feelings for the senator and the country's connection to the last member of a remarkable trio of political leaders.

"His fight [with cancer] has given us the opportunity we were denied when his brothers John and Robert were taken from us -- the blessing of time to say thank you, and goodbye," Obama said.

The president called Kennedy "one of the greatest senators of our time and one of the most accomplished citizens to serve our democracy." He added that Kennedy was "synonymous with the Democratic party" and a "singular figure in American history."

Obama learned about Kennedy's death early Wednesday morning, woken by an aide around 2 a.m. with news that Obama said this morning was no easier to hear despite expectations that it would soon come.

"Even though we have known this day was coming for some time now, we awaited it with no small amount of dread," Obama said.

It was an unlikely pairing for a friendship. But in Obama, Kennedy apparently saw a politician whose leadership could inspire a new generation, break barriers of discrimination and help advance the agenda he had been fighting for all of his life.

"With Barack Obama, we will turn the page on the old politics of misrepresentation and distortion," Kennedy said in his endorsement speech on Jan. 28. "With Barack Obama, we will close the book on the old politics of race against race, gender against gender, ethnic group against ethnic group, and straight against gay.... He offers a strategy for prosperity -- so that America will once again lead the world in better standards of life."

That endorsement provided an immediate boost to Obama, giving the junior senator's campaign the heft of history. Obama smiled broadly as he stood next to a vigorous Kennedy to accept what may have been his campaign's most important endorsement.

A book on the campaign co-written by The Post's Dan Balz described the behind-the-scenes efforts by Obama and former president Bill Clinton to woo Kennedy. The book says Kennedy decided to endorse Obama despite repeated calls from Sen. Hillary Clinton's husband.

"He told Obama that at the beginning of the campaign he was looking for somebody to inspire the nation, and how impressed he had been by Obama's emphasis after his Iowa victory on the importance of ending the longtime divisions within the country," Balz and co-author Haynes Johnson wrote. "Obama's inspiration was what the country needed."

Six months later, when Obama officially claimed the nomination at the Democratic National Convention, an already ailing Kennedy invoked the rhetoric of his earlier speeches and his elder brother to honor Obama's victory and to urge the country to elect him president.

"This November the torch will be passed again to a new generation of Americans, so with Barack Obama and for you and for me, our country will be committed to his cause," Kennedy said. "The work begins anew. The hope rises again. And the dream lives on."

In the year since, Obama's relationship with Kennedy strengthened as the new president launched an aggressive effort to complete Kennedy's long-running bid to revamp the nation's health care system -- a condition of the endorsement according to Balz and Johnson.

This week, as Obama vacationed just minutes from where Kennedy lay gravely ill, there were repeated questions about whether the president would visit the ailing senator on his death bed.

Presidential aides repeatedly said there were no plans for a visit, concluding that the disruption of a visit by the president -- with the accompanying entourage of security and media -- would not be welcomed by the Kennedy family.

White House officials said there are no plans for the president to go to the Hyannis Port compound, and there are no details yet about the funeral. But aides said they expect the president to eulogize his former colleague when the time comes.

The flag at the White House flew at half staff this morning in honor of Kennedy's death after Obama ordered all federal buildings to lower their flags to mark the senator's passing.

"In the United States Senate, I can think of no one who engendered greater respect or affection from members of both sides of the aisle," Obama said. "His seriousness of purpose was perpetually matched by humility, warmth and good cheer."

A transcript of Obama's full remarks can be read here.

Shortly after making his statement about the death of Sen. Kennedy, President Obama and his family took a short motorcade to a private beach, where aides say they will spend some time today.

Posted at 10:34 AM ET on Aug 26, 2009  | Category:  Democratic Party
Share This: Technorati talk bubble Technorati | Tag in | Digg This
Previous: A Legislator Like No Other | Next: Obama Orders Flags Flown at Half-Staff in Honor of Kennedy

Add 44 to Your Site
Be the first to know when there's a new installment of The Trail. This widget is easy to add to your Web site, and it will update every time there's a new entry on The Trail.
Get This Widget >>


Please email us to report offensive comments.

MSNBC, the most far-left news network on the planet stated that Obama is the last of the Kennedys. That does not say much for the Kennedys for everything Obama is, everything he says, and everything he does, is a lie. If you remember your history, JFK was a womanizer, but, at least, he was a good American, a fine veteran, and an anti-communist. Obama is none of these.

Posted by: walterndebby | August 27, 2009 2:16 PM


"The president called Kennedy "one of the greatest senators of our time and one of the most accomplished citizens to serve our democracy." He added that Kennedy was "synonymous with the Democratic party""


I beg to Differ!

The Dimocrat SOCIALIST Party perhaps!

Bother's John and Robert would have had NOTHING to do with the warped path the Dimocrat Socialist Party took ever since Carter betrayed the Farmers(Big Businessmen) in favor of the ignorant and un-informed gullible yet VERY NUMEROUS Laborers!

The same corrupt unions that killed the other brothers;

were the blacksheep Kennedy's life-blood!

PLEASE try to get this concept STRAIGHT Media Moguls: Socialism;

is NOT: Liberalism!

He was a SOCIALIST Lion!

When it came to his desire to promote Leftist Views and Policies;

he was as conservative about his Leftist stances as he could possibly be!

Posted by: SAINT---The | August 27, 2009 2:02 PM

He did see something in Obama, he saw how he could spread Socialisum all through America. For years he has helped expand Government towards Socialisum just the opposite as JFK. He stood against JFK so the socialist wouldn't kill him. JFK was going put an end to All secret dealings, end the Federal Reserve, and the war in Viet Nam that Dwight D Eisenhower started and then warned the American people about the Military Indutrial Complex, that we are dealing with right now. The very things that JFK tried to stop, but Ted backed them because he was a coward, he proved that at Chappaquiddick when he let Mary Jo die.

Posted by: Vic5440 | August 27, 2009 1:55 PM

good riddence to you,who along with your brothers got away with murder literally.
sorry,but anyone who hates lady liberty is not worthy of my mourning.

Posted by: silusdogood | August 26, 2009 7:59 PM

A son of a crook too lazy to steal. Kicked ot of Harvard for cheating. An unrepentant murderer. A blind drunk spewing flatulent blather. A liberal.

Posted by: carlbatey | August 26, 2009 7:47 PM

He spent four decades in the Senate and although Byrd has served longer not quite the impact, Teddy's impact in hundreds of important bills that moved us toward a more perfect union. He served on the highest inetelligence and military committees. He was far too liberal for some, but you can't overlook his accomplishments.

Posted by: jameschirico | August 26, 2009 7:19 PM

What vacation?

First having to eat the Bush Dog sandwich with Bernanke and that $9T budget thing and now Kennedy picks THIS WEEK to kick off--man no rest for the Prez!

Posted by: ZippyinAnnapolis | August 26, 2009 6:39 PM

A prerequisite to be considered as a candidate on Barry's Czar shadow government team or Radical Administration is to have some affiliation, alliance or believes in preferably Communism or State Control Fascism, but Socialism is helpful. That is a strong resume enhancer to be a part of Barry's Radical team. And if you happen to be a graduate of the AAA South Chicago Political Thug College (AAA being the Ayers, Alinsky, ACORN school of politics) all the better. Barry's Shadow Czar government is hiring, for a very limited time.

Posted by: FraudObama | August 26, 2009 5:38 PM


BAN the use/misuse of microwave/laser radiation "directed energy weapons" systems on American citizens -- or ANY human being.

These are horrific weapons that continue to be deployed -- now under YOUR watch.

The weaponization of the electromagnetic spectrum by the U.S. military/security/intel forces is enabling a modern-day silent politicide.


Live links to stories about directed energy weapons, covert torture of American citizens:

OR (if links are corrupted / disabled):
RE: "Zap. Have You Been Targeted by a Directed Energy Weapon?"

Posted by: scrivener50 | August 26, 2009 4:22 PM

President Obama:

BAN microwave/laser "directed energy weapons" use (read: TORTURE/slow-kill homicide) on American citizens...

...and warrantless GPS tracking/surveillance of unjustly targeted Americans...

...the electronic backbone of a Bush-Cheney spawned American Gestapo that is now operating on YOUR watch.





OR (if links are corrupted / disabled):
RE: "Zap. Have You Been Targeted by a Directed Energy Weapon?"

Posted by: scrivener50 | August 26, 2009 4:14 PM

He learned to forgive himself and that's something.

Posted by: crrobin | August 26, 2009 3:59 PM

NEW YORK, Aug. 25 -- A wealthy investment banker and prominent fundraiser for President Obama, Hillary Rodham Clinton and other top Democrats was arrested Tuesday on charges that he lied to get a $74 million business loan.
Prosecutors accused Hassan Nemazee of giving Citibank "fraudulent and forged" documents showing that he owned millions of dollars in collateral. A criminal complaint also accuses Nemazee of providing false verifying information for financial institutions, including a phone number that actually belonged to him.
Prosecutors said FBI agents stopped the 59-year-old financier on Sunday at Newark Liberty International Airport as he prepared to board a flight to Rome.
Nemazee, chairman and chief executive of New York-based Nemazee Capital, was national finance co-chairman for Clinton's presidential bid last year, and after her primary defeat he raised money for Obama. In 2004, he worked for the presidential campaign of Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) as New York state finance chairman.
A Clinton spokesman didn't immediately return an e-mail message seeking comment.
In 1999, President Bill Clinton picked Nemazee to be U.S. ambassador to Argentina, but his nomination was never confirmed.
Nemazee, who did not enter a plea or speak at the court hearing, faces up to 30 years in prison and a fine if convicted.

Posted by: hclark1 | August 26, 2009 3:25 PM

Ted Kennedy is a prime example of the Professional Politicans that have ruined this country. They line there pockets at the expense of the taxpayers.
Whenever one party looses power its always the moderates of both parties that loose their seats while the extremists on both sides of the aisle stay gain an even bigger stranglehold of there party. This is a centrist country and the extremists influence needs to be minimized. The only thing that can truly save this country is imposing term limits for both house of congress. The day of the professional politician needs to end.

Posted by: Attilaa | August 26, 2009 3:12 PM

I don't like OJ Simpson either.

Posted by: JakeD | August 26, 2009 12:38 PM

Ted Kennedy was NOT "one of the greatest senators of our time and one of the most accomplished citizens to serve our democracy".

Posted by: JakeD | August 26, 2009 12:34 PM

Last year in the primary election period, Ted Kennedy's endorsement did it for me. Until then I had been undecided between Obama and Clinton. I believed Kennedy saw something in Barack Obama that would help the country.

Posted by: george7096 | August 26, 2009 12:17 PM

Post a Comment

We encourage users to analyze, comment on and even challenge's articles, blogs, reviews and multimedia features.

User reviews and comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. Finally, we will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or privacy policies or any other policies governing this site. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions.


© 2009 The Washington Post Company