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What Kennedy Means (And What He Doesn't)



Sen. Ted Kennedy passed away late Tuesday night. Photo by Jason Reed of Reuters

The death of Sen. Ted Kennedy -- announced early this morning by his family -- brings to a close nearly five decades in which he stood atop the Democratic political world.

The arc of Kennedy's career -- from his election to the Senate in 1962 as the youngest of a trio of political brothers to his pivotal endorsement of President Barack Obama during last year's primary campaign -- shows the evolution of a politician to whom much was given and of whom even more was expected.

Kennedy's political career began amid charges of nepotism -- a family friend had held the Senate seat between 1960 and 1962 until Ted was old enough to take his older brother John's place -- but the public perception of the youngest son of the famous family was changed by tragedy.

The assassinations of John Kennedy in 1963 and Bobby Kennedy in 1968 -- as well as Ted's stirring eulogy for the latter -- effectively transformed him in the eyes of the general public from a silver-spooned child of privilege into the last best hope to fulfill the generational change offered by his two brothers.

Kennedy, whether by choice of by necessity, sought to fulfill those expectations -- with mixed results.

From 1968 until his death, his political career is best understood in two phases -- the presidential years and the legislative years.

The first period -- from 1968 until 1980 -- was defined by the nearly unending speculation about whether and when Kennedy would run for what was widely seen as his birthright -- the presidency of the United States.

He declined in 1968, had that decision all but made for him in 1972 thanks to the aftermath of the Chappaquidick incident three years earlier, and stepped aside again in 1976. Kennedy's run against President Jimmy Carter in 1980 was abbreviated and disappointing.

The end of Kennedy's presidential aspirations, however, seemed to come as a relief to the Massachusetts Senator -- freeing him to pursue a legacy of his own rather than seek to carry the standard of his fallen brothers.

Starting in 1981, Kennedy kicked off nearly thirty years where he developed into a fascinating combination of liberal war horse and bipartisan deal maker.

Despite his decidedly liberal leanings -- he was a liberal before that word became a political football -- Kennedy's relationships with other Senators (Democrats and Republicans), knowledge of the inner workings of the Senate and willingness to sit down at the bargaining table came to define the latter half of his political life.

Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), who sought to work with Kennedy earlier this decade on comprehensive immigration reform, detailed the Massachusetts Senator's unique role during an interview last Sunday with ABC's George Stephanopoulos.

"Ted Kennedy comes as close to being indispensable as any individual I've ever known in the Senate because he had a unique way of sitting down with the parties at a table and making the right concessions, which really are the essence of successful negotiations," said McCain.

And yet, despite his deal-making nature, Kennedy was widely regarded by Democratic loyalists as the prime defender of liberal principles in the halls of Congress. Kennedy's lasting influence over what it meant to be a Democrat was apparent in the game-changing endorsement he offered Obama during the 2008 presidential primary process. That endorsement, widely regarded in retrospect as one of the critical moments of the race, was seen by many Democrats as a passing of the progressive torch from the leader of one generation to the leader of the next.

Given what Kennedy meant to the Democratic party and the Senate, it's easy to assume that his passing will shepherd in -- at least temporarily -- a new era of bipartisanship that will culminate with passage of some sort of health care reform legislation this fall.

That assumption is perhaps too facile, however, as it overlooks the fact that the Senate has fundamentally changed since the time Kennedy was elected -- becoming far more partisan a body (more in line with the House of Representatives) with many younger Senators who served only briefly with Kennedy.

Kennedy's recent effort to change state law to allow Gov. Deval Patrick to appoint a successor to his Senate seat in the five month interregnum period before a special election could be held is instructive in defining the breadth of his continued influence.

That plea, which was widely perceived to be Kennedy's attempt to ensure his voice and vote would be there on health care if need be, fell on (largely) deaf ears among the Democratic-controlled legislature -- many of whom were loath to change state law at the behest of one person even if that one person was the most famous politician in the Bay State.

It has also become clear in recent years that the power of the Kennedy name in politics has grown weaker. Losses by Kathleen Kennedy Townsend and Mark Shriver in Maryland, the odd candidacy of Caroline Kennedy in the New York Senate race and Merchandise Mart CEO Chris Kennedy's decision not to run for the Senate in Illinois in 2010 reveal that as the Kennedy clan has grown larger -- and further afield from the political roots laid by John, Bobby and Ted -- the family's hold on the body politics has weakened. (It remains to be seen whether Kennedy's wife, Vicki, or his nephew, Joe, will put their names forward to succeed him in the Senate; if either does, it will be yet another test of the power of the Kennedy name.)

Despite all of that, it's difficult to underestimate the power -- both of a literal and a symbolic nature -- that Ted Kennedy came to represent in American politics.

Last son of a blessed/cursed political family, a man brought low and raised up by personal tragedies both of his making and from without, and, ultimately, a politician who never achieved the nation's highest office but instead carved a path all his own that led him to a record as one of the country's great legislators.

By Chris Cillizza  |  August 26, 2009; 9:21 AM ET
Categories:  Senate  
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Next: Kennedy, 59 Seats and the Next Five Months

Comments

MrTruth:

I am an enemy of Senator Kennedy and your President mainly because of abortion -- and, I am registered with the American Independent Party, not Republican -- please get your facts straight. As for your opinions, do you believe that Jimmy Carter was a "competent Democratic leader"?

Posted by: JakeD | September 1, 2009 12:28 PM | Report abuse

The US Constitution and American People have lost their fiercest advocate and truest friend. The US Senate and the American People must now hold his torch high or be forever darkened and diminished by his absence.


To those who spew vile comments at this media site, thanks for once again demonstrating why the republican party, its' leadership, constituency, and agenda have been proven vastly unworthy of the American People, Our Flag, and our National Destiny.

Moreover, the republican party, its' leadership and agenda are much more than obvious miserable failures. They are clearly a hideous blight upon our Nation.

So vast and onerous is the republican failure, that it will surely take the remaining years of the next decade before the latest republican disaster of government is repaired, as always, by competent Democratic leaders and competent Democratic governance committed to the good of the American People.

To those who continue to spew lies and misinformation at this site and elsewhere in the news media, you should know that most of the smart people have never been fooled by you or your lies. To the smart people, you are a proven enemy of the truth and therefore the enemy of Our US Constitution and the American People.

As the tangible consequences of recent republican governance continue to wreak havoc upon our national economy, even the most trusting citizens can clearly see the continuing damage resulting from criminally incompetent republican rule. This is the truth that can no longer be hidden or ignored by the mainstream media.

The republican coalition of the rich and the stupid has finally become untenable. If the truth prevails, the future, once again, will belong to the American People not global corporations and their vile republican propagandist media lackeys.

The enemies of Senator Kennedy and our President are truly the enemies of our Nations economic future and Mankind itself.

They will never prevail.


Posted by: MrTruth | September 1, 2009 11:54 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: JakeD | August 28, 2009 1:36 PM | Report abuse

http://www.cnn.com

Quick Vote

How will Ted Kennedy's death affect health care legislation?

More likely to pass (23%) 32,285 votes

Less likely to pass (21%) 28,813 votes

No difference (56%) 78,830 votes

Total Votes: 139,928

Posted by: JakeD | August 28, 2009 12:53 PM | Report abuse

VENAL POLITICAL BLOG-SPAM COMMENTS: SPAWN OF A TAXPAYER-FUNDED COVERT 'PSY OP'?

http://nowpublic.com/world/govt-fusion-center-spying-pretext-harass-and-censor

Posted by: scrivener50 | August 28, 2009 10:13 AM | Report abuse

I'm not a religious person, but I do like these acts of asceticism. You don't see it much with Christianity which has become so entwined with consumerism nowdays.

==

That's not really fair. There are a lot of devout Christians and a majority who are not fundamentalists.

But in terms of what Christ actually taught Christianity is as dead as Zoroastrianism. The real betrayal started with Paul and reached its endpoint with the First Ecumenical in 325 AD. Christ prescribed a deeply committed personal journey on the part of each and every Christian and the idea of an authoritative church was entirely opposed to this.

The original non-terrorist meaning of "jihad" comes pretty close.

Posted by: GoldAndTanzanite | August 27, 2009 2:22 PM | Report abuse

The President has flags flying at half mast, for a person that helped Socialisum come to America.

==

I am completely confident that you don't have the first clue what "socialism" means.

Posted by: GoldAndTanzanite | August 27, 2009 2:19 PM | Report abuse

This person passing proves just how screwed up America is. The President has flags flying at half mast, for a person that helped Socialisum come to America. JFK
is probably turning over in his grave. This person is now a Saint, when all he ever was, was a DRUNK and a MURDERER, that NEVER faced all the wrongs he helped do against America and the Constitution and the people of this great country. I'm glad to see him gone so he can't do any more damage to us. I just wish he could have taken some more of his socialist friends with him, like Pelosi, Reid, Grinrich and a bunch more storm troopers.

Posted by: Vic5440 | August 27, 2009 1:59 PM | Report abuse

"My wife is (was as far as her family is concerned - two apostates) an Indonesian Muslim, we just ate, she is putting the little kids to bed, my turn to tell stories in a minute. First day of school today for the little one. Everything matters, that is for sure."

I'm not a religious person, but I do like these acts of asceticism. You don't see it much with Christianity which has become so entwined with consumerism nowdays. Even Lent is a joke compared to Ramadan. I have gone for 14 hours without eating before, but not as something I've planned. Honestly, it's been the waking up at 4 AM that takes more of a toll on me than the not eating.

Posted by: DDAWD | August 27, 2009 1:37 PM | Report abuse

So where are all the Chappaquiddick trolls coming from? Lotta "new" names here.

A quick google search shows that the "Mary Jo was pregnant" crap is endemic on the wingnut sites. The same nutjobs who're screaming for Obama's "long form" birth certificate.

The idea that a man who had been laid flat on his back for six months in a plane accident would deliberately wreck his car to murder a woman as a way to hide a paternity charge is even more ridiculous than the idea that a man could be elected Senator and then President and nobody would verify his eligibity. Dumb-bunny paranoid right wing kooks.

Posted by: GoldAndTanzanite | August 27, 2009 1:07 PM | Report abuse

A great loss to the bootlegging community.

Posted by: leapin | August 27, 2009 12:02 PM | Report abuse

He lost my support at Chappaquidick . If that had been me , I'd been in prison for 15 years, it was a big cover up.

Posted by: joecarol | August 27, 2009 11:45 AM | Report abuse

Shed no tears for this worthless excuse of a man!

Posted by: SeniorVet | August 27, 2009 11:02 AM | Report abuse

this lie in his own words responding to the critics of his 1965 Immigration Act which helped to add mostly unassimilating 100 million immigrants and their children to our country in the last 40 years should be his epitaph:

“First, our cities will not be flooded with a million immigrants annually. Under the proposed bill, the present level of immigration remains substantially the same… Secondly, the ethnic mix of this country will not be upset…. Contrary to the charges in some quarters, [the bill] will not inundate America with immigrants from any one country or area, or the most populated and deprived nations of Africa and Asia….

In the final analysis, the ethnic pattern of immigration under the proposed measure is not expected to change as sharply as the critics seem to think.”

The saddest thing about Teds death was the timing, it happened decades too late.

Posted by: Delmarghb | August 27, 2009 10:06 AM | Report abuse

The memory of the American public runs quite short. First off, the deification of Kennedy is questionable at best -- let's not forget that Ted Kennedy was responsible for the death of a young woman all those years ago at Chappaquiddick. As a politician, Kennedy stood for an America that holds down liberty and builds up government. His policies and positions belied this daily - he and his compatriots knew far better than the individual what was "good" for them, and his voting record demonstrates that. His vision of America was the polar opposite of those of our founding fathers. And in the talk as to who may succeed him, alas, his nephew Joe Kennedy II is mentioned in earnest - the same JPK II who has been in bed with Hugo Chavez in his "quest" for heating oil - have we forgotten his commercials demonstrating his "love" for our "friends in Venezuela" who so kindly provided oil at a cheaper cost for distribution to Americans? Think about this and then think about the Obama Administration and the proliferation of self-proclaimed Communists occupying seats of great power and advisement in the White House. Americans better wake up before it is too late, or we will lose our country right before our eyes and then look around and wonder why - for those of you who supported Obama - thank you very much - thank you for supporting the demise of the liberty and freedoms of the United States -- it is very painful to watch as someone who has a deep and abiding love for this country and all for which it has stood - the United States is the greatest country in the world, and many of you will live to regret what you have permitted to happen but you will also be the same people who will wonder how this could have happened - unfortunately, it will be too late.

Posted by: pickles1 | August 27, 2009 8:44 AM | Report abuse

How did you know? My wife is (was as far as her family is concerned - two apostates) an Indonesian Muslim, we just ate, she is putting the little kids to bed, my turn to tell stories in a minute. First day of school today for the little one. Everything matters, that is for sure.

Dealing with cognitive dissonance,
It could be sanity, I think so. It would be so much fun to meet you people some day.

Posted by: shrink2 | August 26, 2009 11:04 PM | Report abuse

By the way, shrink2, that wasn't directed at you. You probably understand what I'm talking about better than anyone else. It was just a general comment.

I'm a little cranky. My Muslim friend talked me into doing a Ramadan fast for a week. This means getting up at like 4 AM to eat since I can't eat or drink between 5AM and 7:30 PM. So I'm hungry AND dead tired. Not a good combination.

Posted by: DDAWD | August 26, 2009 7:55 PM | Report abuse

"He does not have to be forgiven to appreciate what he did at work. It is ok to despise someone who did a really good job. We see this split in cases of domestic violence (Gandhi?)."

I think we just like for people to be simple. Our natural inclination is to pigeonhole people. That's just our nature. We can't do that, though. People aren't simple. Good people are rarely virgins. We just need to take a step back and look at the big picture and place everything in its context. He did commit a horrible crime. He also devoted half a century in the Senate to standing up for those who can't stand up for themselves.

Those things don't mesh? Well, deal with it. A little cognitive dissonance never hurt anyone.

Posted by: DDAWD | August 26, 2009 7:45 PM | Report abuse

I'd have liked to hear him come clean too. I'm just saying that perhaps he asked and received forgiveness for his sins. (His religion, not mine.)

Posted by: yeswiican | August 26, 2009 5:39 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, not an art joke,
I meant to say I don't matter.

Getting mad at the dead person...
It is a way of grieving,
but I wish he had done better,
that is all, good bye.

Posted by: shrink2 | August 26, 2009 5:28 PM | Report abuse

Correct, I don't matte. My opinion is all.

Posted by: shrink2 | August 26, 2009 5:24 PM | Report abuse

shrink2, I'm not catholic, but I thought confession was between the sinner and his priest. Where do you come in?

Posted by: yeswiican | August 26, 2009 5:05 PM | Report abuse

"I do not know if that makes me forgiving or cynical about politics."

Or both or neither are also possible.

What, is everybody here Catholic?

yeswiccan, what you say is true and that is the point. Nothing he accomplished changes the injustice either. It is what it is. Both are real.

He does not have to be forgiven to appreciate what he did at work. It is ok to despise someone who did a really good job. We see this split in cases of domestic violence (Gandhi?).

Supermensch Albert Schweitzer was an atrocious racist who dedicated every day of his adult life to hard work with his "little monkeys".

A lot of people who were around Mother Teresa thought she was a narcissistic necrophiliac. Maybe something was lost in translation, but from what I've read of her thoughts, that lady was pretty sure she was more like Jesus than anyone else alive.

Paradox does not have to get fixed.

I had five brothers. My parents wanted me to be the Priest (in Catholic families, oh forget it, tmi). But I think maybe it is just that, the Catholic in me, I wanted a confession, I wanted him to come clean and he never did. Grieving Kennedy.

Posted by: shrink2 | August 26, 2009 5:01 PM | Report abuse

Nice piece, CC--I guess you're about as much on vacation as the prez these days, huh?

I see that members of the Anal Insignificant Party wasted no time in trashing the Most Significant Senator of the 20th Century. Nothing changes.

Posted by: mikeinmidland | August 26, 2009 5:01 PM | Report abuse

What it means is that Teddy got out while the getting is good...before the biggest economic collapse in world history brought to you by today’s NeoCom Statist Destructionist Party.

Posted by: leapin | August 26, 2009 4:51 PM | Report abuse

That's OK mark--I think they covered Spanish tests in Vatican II.

You're still on your own in Latin, though.

Posted by: yeswiican | August 26, 2009 4:46 PM | Report abuse

Yeswiican is correct according to Wiki and I admit to having labored under the wrong impression about him all these years. No, I do not condone cheating on Spanish tests, but it never would have been a mortal sin for me. I am embarrassed by this.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | August 26, 2009 4:13 PM | Report abuse

Generally Kaposi's but I've heard it as a past slang term for just AIDS in general too. It was basically the catch all term people used prior to the official diagnosis of HIV and AIDS as an explination. People still used it around here while I was growing up. I really hate the term though. It's so derrogatory and insensitive.

Posted by: mtcooley | August 26, 2009 4:11 PM | Report abuse

Didn't cheat in law school. It was freshman Spanish.

Posted by: yeswiican | August 26, 2009 4:10 PM | Report abuse

AIDS.
Untreated, (even though we now know it is a disease of neurons) it destroys large tracts of immune system function, so people thought that it was some new form leukemia.

Posted by: shrink2 | August 26, 2009 4:09 PM | Report abuse

GAT - I bet the video of that show is available in your nearby library. Watch it. It was based on witness accounts and expert reconstruction. Because the record of the actual investigation was sealed and the official investigation itself was spare, your criticism of me for posting one likely conclusion from a reconstructed investigative report as especially unforgiving is misplaced.

Cheating in law school at one time was treated as a lifetime disqualification from the law. I am a product of that time. But I am sure I would have voted for him for the Senate after 1980 had I been a MA resident on more than one occasion. Being a skilled and proven legislator, consistently, and more recently, would have trumped the earlier history. I do not know if that makes me forgiving or cynical about politics.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | August 26, 2009 4:08 PM | Report abuse

"Back in the eighties, at The Boston City Hospital, I watched a young man die of "the gay cancer", we did not know what it was then."

What's the gay cancer? Kaposi's? NHL?

Posted by: DDAWD | August 26, 2009 3:59 PM | Report abuse

He wasn't suspended from school--he was expelled for cheating on a Spanish exam. He joined the army for a two-year hitch in the MP's, then went back to school.

As an 18yo, he may have been an over-privileged jerk. At 20, perhaps less so. At 37 (having recently lost the 3rd of 3 brothers to an untimely death) he probably drank too much and chased women. If he weren't a Kennedy and a senator, he might have been indicted for vehicular manslaughter or some such in 1969. He wasn't.

None of that changes what he accomplished in the Senate in the last 27 years.

Posted by: yeswiican | August 26, 2009 3:59 PM | Report abuse

If I had to bet, I would bet he thought he would be back and I'll bet he did not believe he would die as fast as he did. I can't imagine he made political decisions, legacy or otherwise, calculated against his prognosis. It is just not what people do on their deathbeds.

Back in the eighties, at The Boston City Hospital, I watched a young man die of "the gay cancer", we did not know what it was then.

His estranged family (with lawyer in tow) forced us to pull him off the ventilator to wake him up long enough to try to get him to change the terms of his Will. It took him awhile to figure out what was going on. He was running out of air, but he did manage to say "I love you" to his mom. He was not concerned about how his money was to be distributed.

Posted by: shrink2 | August 26, 2009 3:55 PM | Report abuse

It suggested the following as a likely scenario: Teddy is drunk. MJK kicks him out of the car. She doesn't know the Island, and drives off the bridge. Meanwhile, Teddy goes back to the party. He gets a ride to the ferry and goes back to his hotel.

==

Did anyone see him come back to the party? No?

You sound extraordinarily unforgiving. And not just about Kopechne.

Posted by: GoldAndTanzanite | August 26, 2009 3:51 PM | Report abuse

shrink2:

One "theory" is that Ted Kennedy DID want to get rid of her (was she pregnant? why was there no autopsy performed?).

Posted by: JakeD | August 26, 2009 12:50 PM

Posted by: JakeD | August 26, 2009 3:45 PM | Report abuse

shrink2, as a young senator I never took him seriously. He apparently cheated and was suspended from Harvard Law School - an insufferable sin in my world.

Your mention of MJK reminded me that the investigative series that appears on A&E did a convincing documentary.

http://shop.aetv.com/detail.php?p=67011&v=aetv_subject_crime-and-investigation_secrets-conspiracies

It suggested the following as a likely scenario: Teddy is drunk. MJK kicks him out of the car. She doesn't know the Island, and drives off the bridge. Meanwhile, Teddy goes back to the party. He gets a ride to the ferry and goes back to his hotel. His aids go looking for Mary Joe. They find her, rush to the hotel to tell Teddy. Teddy concocts the "I tried to save her" story because it is politically less damaging than the "she kicked me out of the car because I was an obstreperous drunk" story.

I wonder if that would have made him appear less reprehensible in the long run, were it true.

In any case, he became a first rate legislator after 1980, as you said - and while you and I never would have invited him to our homes, if we were MA voters we might have reelected him on his legislative accomplishments.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | August 26, 2009 3:44 PM | Report abuse

Right, shrink2. It could be that Kennedy's prognosis was the reason behind Obama's August deadline, but we don't know that.

And seriously, I think it possible that the realization that he was too sick to attend his sister's funeral may have caused him to quit fighting. I really don't care to know the details of his discussions about end-of-life care with his doctors, but he may have been on hospice care these last weeks.

Posted by: yeswiican | August 26, 2009 3:37 PM | Report abuse

@shrink2: I can't bring myself to condemn a dying man who didn't want to believe his life was going to end soon. It's hard enough to conceive of one's own death and to make plans past what is likely the time of one's predicted demise isn't exactly an evil act. Kennedy died of a malignant glioma (glial cell carcinoma?) which has a pretty grim prognosis. His surgery removed most of the tumor and he hoped to live longer. Sad that he didn't.

I doubt any of the steeple-fingered posters pronouncing him as selfish would deal with their own ends any better.

Posted by: GoldAndTanzanite | August 26, 2009 3:34 PM | Report abuse

shrink2:

Did you see my post to you below?

Posted by: JakeD | August 26, 2009 3:33 PM | Report abuse

Also, no one knows whether this death happened on a known nor even knowable timeline. Guessing what political decisions might be based upon a cancer's statistical prognosis, the patient's own expectations and then ugly reality, that is all up in the severe clear, blue sky. In other words, calling him out for not resigning is presumptuous. Not an insult, it just presumes we know he knew something we can't know he knew [whew, could you imagine being an English as a 2nd language teacher?]

Posted by: shrink2 | August 26, 2009 3:27 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, mtcooley. Reading carabis' post on the other thread, I can see that he's got some reasonable ideas about getting something passed this year.

I can understand some frustration and disappointment at what appears to be an avoidable setback. My point is that the 5-month gap could be a problem at any time, and surely Senator Kennedy was planning to vote for health care before the August break. Some folks in Mass. apparently think their legislature will correct the problem shortly after Labor Day. If so, then no harm.

Posted by: yeswiican | August 26, 2009 3:10 PM | Report abuse

>>The free exchange of ideas and opinions is not a war, it's not even a debate--it's a discussion. The term "friendly fire" does not apply.

Exactly. I'm not shooting down anyone. Merely not agreeing with the words they chose or part of what they said. That's how discussions work.

And I'd dare say we're not even having a heated discussion at that. Really when it comes to resignations they're a mixed bag. Most of the time they make the candidate look terrible. The caveat being I think it's completely understandable to do so if you have failing health, but I don't feel it's selfish if you don't. Mainly because that's a personal decision as to whether or not you can handle the work and treat your illness. If you feel that you can I really can't say they're wrong. I'm not the one having to deal with it. And I'm pretty accross the board with that too whether it's a senator or the guy picking up my trash.

Posted by: mtcooley | August 26, 2009 2:57 PM | Report abuse

caribis:

Did you hear that?

Posted by: JakeD | August 26, 2009 2:44 PM | Report abuse

While I agree that, in 20/20 hindsight, it might have been good for Senator Kennedy to resign months ago, I think it is simplistic to attribute his motives to selfishness. There were many other votes, other issues, and his prognosis was not certain.

==

The same filth who are excoriating him as selfish for not resigning would be calling him a quitter if he had. To hell with them.

Posted by: GoldAndTanzanite | August 26, 2009 2:37 PM | Report abuse

"Shrink, please give it a rest" and "IGNORE THE GOP TROLL!" are hardly conducive to the free exchange of ideas and opinions -- this is a "war" for the heart and soul of America -- I couldn't care less whether you think it is or if the term "friendly fire" applies or not. Like I said, keep it up.

Posted by: JakeD | August 26, 2009 2:24 PM | Report abuse

If the Dems keep this up, Gov. Palin WILL be elected the next President of the United States.

Posted by: JakeD | August 26, 2009 2:18 PM | Report abuse

While I agree that, in 20/20 hindsight, it might have been good for Senator Kennedy to resign months ago, I think it is simplistic to attribute his motives to selfishness. There were many other votes, other issues, and his prognosis was not certain.

It is also far from certain that the Massachusetts legislature won't change the law right after Labor Day, to allow an interim appointment.

The free exchange of ideas and opinions is not a war, it's not even a debate--it's a discussion. The term "friendly fire" does not apply.

Posted by: yeswiican | August 26, 2009 2:17 PM | Report abuse

I mean look at Palin. She resigned for less of a reason and people are calling her /selfless/ when she left her state and constituents in this whole political and legal mess.

==

Maybe the sort of voter who rolls a pack of Marlboros in his undershirt sleeve is seeing virtue in Palin's abrupt resignation but neither they nor that view are anywhere near a plurality.

On the contrary, Palin's esteem as a serious candidate plummeted as a result of that particular stunt, and she's disgraced herself further since propagating what everyone, supporters included, know to be lies about healthcare.

I know you didn't intend it that way but it's kind of grotesque to mention Palin and Kennedy anywhere near each other. Kennedy was a flawed man but Palin is just an invertebrate walking on two legs.

Posted by: GoldAndTanzanite | August 26, 2009 2:12 PM | Report abuse

LOL!!! You are both blinded that "carabis" is actually on YOUR side -- he / she is rightfully upset that Teddy didn't resign back in March so that a new Senator would already be elected by now and ready to WORK after this recess -- keep up the friendly fire though (same thing just happened to "shrink2" for simply stating a common sense opinion ; )

Posted by: JakeD | August 26, 2009 2:00 PM | Report abuse

>>Regardless, I see no way in which not stepping down was a "selfish" act.

Well the people calling it that seem to think that the job doesn't actually entail any work. So why should anyone stay?

I mean look at Palin. She resigned for less of a reason and people are calling her /selfless/ when she left her state and constituents in this whole political and legal mess.

It's just the demented way people look at work in this country. I mean politicians totally don't have any responsibility or work to do.

Posted by: mtcooley | August 26, 2009 1:51 PM | Report abuse

@carabis:

You presume many things, including both the timeline of the legislation and the senator's illness. He stayed on and probably would have had himself wheeled into the Senate chamber on a gurney if necessary for a vote this summer.

It may be that the Senator stopped fighting the cancer after his sister died two weeks ago.

Regardless, I see no way in which not stepping down was a "selfish" act.

Posted by: yeswiican | August 26, 2009 1:42 PM | Report abuse

Fine, dcgrasso1 (just for you), I will only use "I am registered with the American Independent Party" from here on out.

Posted by: JakeD | August 26, 2009 1:39 PM | Report abuse

@degrasso: I presume that the troll's voting claims are lies just like everything else he posts. To call him a conservative is to undeservedly dignify someone who exists only to irritate.

I think a better comparison would be to a fly, whose role is to eat sh|t and bother people.

Posted by: GoldAndTanzanite | August 26, 2009 1:34 PM | Report abuse

Ted Kennedy's last political act was his failure to resign when it may have done some good. He knew the political calendar, that he was terminal and the law in Massachusetts by last March when it was clear Al Franken would make the magic sixty. Between being Massachusetts, Kennedy's illness and Obama's popularity, a Democratic senator would have been assured. If he had resigned then, Massachusetts would be electing a new senator right now. The health care reform he purported to care so much about is now in a senate with fifty-nine Democrats. If something doesn't pass early in the fall Congress will move onto the budget and then break for the holidays. By January when his replacement will arrive (now only a likely Democratic successor) Congress will be in re-election mode and it is highly unlikely anything of significance will be done.

In the end, maybe it won't matter, but after a long career with its highs and its lows, his last political act was that of a typical politician, one based in what is best for me.

Posted by: caribis | August 26, 2009 1:33 PM | Report abuse

GoldAndTanzanite, I'd actually have to agree that the troll is NOT a Republican. He votes for the most conservative person, regardless of party. If that person happens to be a Republican, he'll vote that way. If the most conservative person is a Democrat (unlikely, but it does happen in a rare case these days), he'd vote for the Democrat. The Amer. Independent Party is to the right of the Republican party, therefore he'll vote that way if there's a candidate for a position.

But yes, I'd agree that the term "independent" is a misnomer in this case-- the term is generally used to imply that the the voter is actually somewhat of a moderate or a "swing vote" between the conservative and liberal positions. It may be technically accurate in this case, but it's disingenuous to use the term otherwise.

Posted by: dcgrasso1 | August 26, 2009 1:29 PM | Report abuse

You could end up like Mary Jo too.

Posted by: JakeD | August 26, 2009 1:23 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, shrink2, he's asking you nice. You don't want to see him when he gets angry.

Posted by: JakeD | August 26, 2009 1:18 PM | Report abuse

Shrink, please give it a rest. Asking you nice. Let the despicable GOP trolls handle this end.

Posted by: GoldAndTanzanite | August 26, 2009 1:12 PM | Report abuse

In surveying the Kennedy family's political significance, I think it's inaccurate to leave out Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and his wife Maria Shriver.

Posted by: fairfaxvoter | August 26, 2009 1:12 PM | Report abuse

Someone said "Kennedy repented".

He did?
That is something I never knew.
He admitted to destroying the life of Mary Jo and leaving a life long gaping hole in the hearts of the people who loved her?

Sheesh, I ought to get out more. All this time I thought he slithered away from that crime scene and never owned it, denied it to the end. And I thought he got away with it because he was a Kennedy. Now I find out here he repented.

I grew up Catholic, altar boy, abused, the whole program. I do remember one thing about their ideology, you have to repent or you can not be forgiven. So this is not a small point.

There is no point in hating him, I never have. But if you believe in "doing the right thing", if you believe in justice for all, if you despise the class structure, you just can not respect this guy because you like his political career.

That would be like a football fan overlooking OJ's "one mistake" because of what he did for the game. You don't have to love him or hate Ted. You can think he did great things for the social safety net, he did. But can you respect him as a person? I just can't. Maybe it is because I work on the receiving end of tragedies like the one he caused.

Posted by: shrink2 | August 26, 2009 1:10 PM | Report abuse

The ignored troll is what one finds on the bottom of one's shoe after walking across a dog's yard

Posted by: GoldAndTanzanite | August 26, 2009 1:10 PM | Report abuse

The "ignored troll" is actually registered Independent.

Posted by: JakeD | August 26, 2009 1:08 PM | Report abuse

The NYT article on Teddy Kennedy goes into his history in some depth. Worth the read, all seven pages.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/27/us/politics/27kennedy.html?hp

No sugar-coating of Chappaquiddick or anything else.

Posted by: GoldAndTanzanite | August 26, 2009 1:08 PM | Report abuse

You really have to wonder about the morals of people who use the death of a tireless public servant to call attention to their own nastiness. Not that we expect anything else from our ignored troll but it seems especially loathsome on this morning. Teddy Kennedy was a man of many flaws and many hypertrophied appetites but he was unquestionably a great man, and not just by virtue of his last name.

Those of you who just use this news as an opportunity to show how sick and low you can go deserve to leave this world in so much pain that you're unable to squeeze a scream between your clenched teeth.

And oh, you nonexistent "lurkers" .. it's worth noting that those cheering the death of the last brother Kennedy are all Republicans.

Posted by: GoldAndTanzanite | August 26, 2009 1:03 PM | Report abuse

Arlington National Cemetary. An appropriate resting spot for the Last Lion.

Posted by: yeswiican | August 26, 2009 12:52 PM | Report abuse

shrink2:

One "theory" is that Ted Kennedy DID want to get rid of her (was she pregnant? why was there no autopsy performed?).

Applejack1:

Cut him some slack; he's still on vacation.

Posted by: JakeD | August 26, 2009 12:50 PM | Report abuse

In substance, this is a nice, if short, piece. There's a typo in para. 5 - "of/or" - and you mean "overestimate", not "underestimate" near the close. C'mon Fix!

Posted by: Applejack1 | August 26, 2009 12:45 PM | Report abuse

Grissom1001:

I didn't say anything about Ted Kennedy's salvation.

Posted by: JakeD | August 26, 2009 12:45 PM | Report abuse

I think I most appreciate this sentence from the Reuters obituary:

"A 2009 survey by The Hill, a Capitol Hill publication, found that Senate Republicans believed Kennedy was the chamber's easiest Democrat to work with and most bipartisan."

I wish all of our senators could be described in such a way.

I believe that the spirit of compromise changed with Lee Atwater and his "Willie Horton Politics" and with the Rise of the Neocons. And that they further eroded when the only Democrats who could beat these extreme right-wingers were the so called "New Democrats," who cowered before the so called "Moral Majority."

If you believe that President Obama only admired Ted Kennedy for the senator's liberal stances, I submit to you that Mr. Obama's admiration was more line with the Senate Republicans in that 2009 survey.

Posted by: dognabbit | August 26, 2009 12:40 PM | Report abuse

To all who would love to define Kennedy by his poor actions regarding Chappaquidick...let's hope God does not pick out one mistake from YOUR life to judge you by when your time comes.....Even though I am a republican I realize that Kennedy repented and spent the remainder of his life attempting to better the lives of those who elected him to serve.
It CLEARLY states in the Bible that God alone can judge man.....best hope that he does not pick that ONE THING to base YOUR salvation on Conservatives.

Posted by: Grissom1001 | August 26, 2009 12:40 PM | Report abuse

Quoting Chris Cillizza: "Despite all of that, it's difficult to underestimate the power -- both of a literal and a symbolic nature -- that Ted Kennedy came to represent in American politics."

Actually, it's "difficult to underestimate" the quality of the writing and editing that often happens at The Washington Post these days. Stop for a minute and think about what you've written Chris. Then see if you didn't mean to say "difficult to overestimate".

Posted by: Colline | August 26, 2009 12:27 PM | Report abuse

nana1ellen,
Can we also tell all the evangelical FundProt's (the politicians of The Family, the televised pitchmen supposedly for God, and their lackeys in the Republican Party) to stop foisting THEIR beliefs on the rest of us??? Be consistent, dear!

Posted by: al_jal | August 26, 2009 12:27 PM | Report abuse

good_angel, your words "a disgusting man that only achieved stature of any kind through an accident of birth into a wealthy family" could just as easily apply to George W. Bush (as well as the drunk part - difference was he went to Yale for undergrad). At least Kennedy was able to try to improve life for those who were less fortunate than he.

Posted by: Mezzoid | August 26, 2009 12:25 PM | Report abuse

Regardless of the negative, hateful comments from some posters, Sen. Kennedy had a profoundly positive effect on America. I don't gloss over his human failings, and he took some positions I did not agree with, but the Senator redeemed himself over and over with his work for America's poor. Improvements in our public education system, health care, civil rights-- whether his work benefited you personally or not, you are better off as an American for what he achieved in the Senate.

I'm sorry for those of you who can't overlook your hatred.

Posted by: dcgrasso1 | August 26, 2009 12:22 PM | Report abuse

troutcat, may I respectfully point out that the majority of the country is not Catholic and the rest of us grow weary of those of you who are Catholic attempting to force your beliefs on the rest of us.

Posted by: nana1ellen | August 26, 2009 12:21 PM | Report abuse

Kopechne was not "murdered" by Ted Kennedy.
He never wanted her to die.

He was, we believe, driving drunk, he crashed his car and she drowned as a result of that crash. Vehicular homicide, I think, is the correct term for accidentally killing someone when driving drunk.

He, we believe, went home to sober up before reporting the fact of her death.

For these crimes he should have been prosecuted. I never respected him in life and I never will.

As for this, "I hope when your time comes, you will have epitaphs which accurately sum up YOUR lives with the same venom."

If I deserve it, I hope so too. This is why I try to do the right thing. Character is all about choices. I like to imagine that if I ever destroy some peoples' lives, I won't pretend I didn't.

Posted by: shrink2 | August 26, 2009 12:18 PM | Report abuse

pipian asks
"Ted Kennedy, was the Poster Child for those who never take responsibility for their own actions. He was as infamous as Michael Jackson, why are such seriously flawed people exalted by so many?"


Some people have chosen to forgive Senator Kennedy for his sins and instead focus on the positive contributions he has made to our country. Whether you choose to follow that example aor not is your decision to make.

.

Posted by: bsimon1 | August 26, 2009 12:15 PM | Report abuse

While I am sure there are people who loved Kennedy; his wife, family and friends, I think it foolish to pretend that this man was anything but someone who was very morally and ethically flawed, and was a glaring example of what is wrong with our federal government.

Our founders had a very clear vision of how they "hoped" our Legislative branch would work. It did NOT include having Senators squatting in their seats for 47 years, this is the epitome of what is wrong with government (and has been) for many, many years!

How do legislators become millionaires when they were NOT upon entering one of the two branches of the legislature? It surely can't be attributed to the salary paid these people. I know this doesn't apply to Kennedy, who by his birth into a wealthy and privileged family, had all the money one person could ever need. He was disadvantaged in other ways in efforts to "serve" the people of Massachusetts. He could no more relate to the "common man" in his constituency than an elephant could relate to a mouse!

I truly wish that the founders hope for government could still be carried out and that we could truly have that government "of the people, by the people, and for the people "and NOT "of the elite, by the lawyers, and for the lobbyists".

Would you not like to be able to read a house or senate bill in plain English? Now that would surely be transparency in government!! Don't hold your breath.

Posted by: OregonStorm | August 26, 2009 12:11 PM | Report abuse

I think ElrodinTN has it about right. Kennedy may well have gotten away with murder (or involuntary manslaughter) and was irresponsible, to put it politely, in his youth. However, after giving up presidential ambitions, he became one of the most important Senators of the 20th century. Unlike many on both sides of the aisle right now, Kennedy was willing to work with the other side for the betterment of the American people (see NCLB and S-CHIP). You may disagree with his policies and his positions, but you cannot reasonably dispute that he dedicated much of his life to this country in a way the few can compare. Rest in peace Senator.

Posted by: trep1 | August 26, 2009 12:02 PM | Report abuse

I come at this a bit different than others. I'm a solidly liberal Democrat who agrees with most of the positions held by Ted Kennedy. But I was never much of a fan of the man. The Kopechne incident is obviously part of that. But a bigger problem is the cult of royalty surrounding the Kennedy family. It was a big reason Bush should never been allowed anywhere near the White House (in addition to his criminally incompetent governing style). I just find the tabloid-style antics surrounding royalty to be distasteful for American democracy.

That said, Kennedy didn't just sit there and occupy the seat. He worked hard for the liberal causes that I hold - health care reform paramount among them. He was also a pragmatist, working with Senator Hatch to pass S-CHIP, for example. His later work on NCLB and immigration reform with McCain showed his ability to get things done. Ultimately, that defines his legacy more than the royalty of the presumptuous years of the 1960s and 1970s. Chris said it well: Kennedy really came into his own in the 1980s.

Rest in peace, Ted. We will carry on your fight!

Posted by: ElrodinTennessee | August 26, 2009 11:46 AM | Report abuse

Chris,

Your article is not only a beautiful piece of writing which doesn't 'airbrush' the late Senator's many personal failings, yet shows wonderful compassion and, something the commentors on this (and other) blog(s) seem to forget: a respect for death. Kudos to you, Chris. Great work, really great!

And to some of those who revile the late Senator (in the comments section) for his failings: I hope when your time comes, you will have epitaphs which accurately sum up YOUR lives with the same venom.

Posted by: sverigegrabb | August 26, 2009 11:39 AM | Report abuse

Chris, listing Ted Kennedy's legacy and achievements in the Senate is entirely appropriate for the man's obituary. What is not appropriate is your failure to mention Mary Jo Kopechne by name. In doing so, you add your own and the Post's insult to the injury Ted inflcted on Miss Kopechne and her family at Chappaquidick 40 years ago.

Posted by: franklyspeaking2 | August 26, 2009 11:38 AM | Report abuse

Those of you exercising your First Amendment rights to castigate Senator Kennedy or his supporters, please take a moment to listen to the praise for him coming from your own senators, his colleagues, Republican and Democrat alike.

Just because you can say vile, hateful things in anonymity, doesnt't mean you should.

Posted by: yeswiican | August 26, 2009 11:33 AM | Report abuse

Judging by the level of ire Ted Kennedy continues to arouse in the mad dog right, one has to say that Teddy's political career was, indeed, a rousing success. Requiescat In Pace, Senator.

Posted by: sundog2 | August 26, 2009 11:32 AM | Report abuse

Ted Kennedy, was the Poster Child for those who never take responsibility for their own actions. He was as infamous as Michael Jackson, why are such seriously flawed people exalted by so many?

Posted by: pipian | August 26, 2009 11:28 AM | Report abuse

Why, Washington Post, do you provide space for the sickos of the world to vent their hatred???????????

Posted by: speedylegs | August 26, 2009 11:21 AM | Report abuse

Good riddance to this left wing liberal murderer of Kopeckne. He is why we need term limits. The whole Kennedy family are a bunch of socialist, elite, SOB's that never worked a day in their life. The Kennedy fortune was gained thru, deceit,corruption, theivery and probably murder.He now has got to face his God for his crooked and despicable way of life.America has finally got rid of at least one politician who wanted to destroy our freedoms and our country. We now need to get rid of about a hundred more left wing socialist politicians, to save America.



Posted by: frankv | August 26, 2009 11:17 AM | Report abuse

I believe he was a flawed (aren't we all) but dedicated individual. For this I have a lot of respect for him. On the other hand, I think he was misguided and although he TRIED to help people, his extreme leftist policies have inadvertently kept poor people in poverty and have cut off the prospect of upward mobility for the working and middle classes !

Posted by: gjdagis | August 26, 2009 11:17 AM | Report abuse

Kennedy's legacy is 3rd world immigration that is bankrupting the country. He destroyed the greatest country that ever was. But he had many helpers.

Men’s median wages are the same as 1973, women’s are what men’s were in 1963. Men and women’s median wages graph page 19:

http://www.census.gov/prod/2008pubs/p60-235.pdf

Men’s labor force participation rate from 1973 at 75.5 to 68.5 in 2008 and even lower now. See Table page 2 of

http://www.bls.gov/cps/cpsa2008.pdf

Posted by: OldAtlantic | August 26, 2009 11:12 AM | Report abuse

I'm suprised the level of vitrol towards Mr. Kennedy hasn't reached fever pitch proportions. I am honestly a little shocked especially the number of people that were villifying him when Ms. Shriver died recently. I don't agree that he's lucky by virtue of birth. From all accounts the Kennedy's were a driven and competative group of people in both work and life which I think that the Republicans could at least admire in them. He may have had the money to make things easier but money doesn't work on it's own.

It's truly a different day in the Senate with his passing.

Posted by: mtcooley | August 26, 2009 11:12 AM | Report abuse

January 26, 2010 will be the 5-month anniversary of Senator Kennedy's passing. It is also a Tuesday, the traditional day for elections.

Perhaps, as certain senators have claimed, we weren't going to get a health-care bill before Christmas anyway. If so, then the 60th vote will be restored soon enough.

But perhaps, just perhaps, one or two Republicans will decide that decency requires them not to take advantage of the loss of their colleague. Perhaps this loss will not only persuade them not to use parliamentary maneuvers but also to decide matters on policy not politics.

Posted by: yeswiican | August 26, 2009 11:12 AM | Report abuse

JohnDinHouston:

Sen. Feingold (D-WI) is a much better example of loyal opposition.

Posted by: JakeD | August 26, 2009 11:09 AM | Report abuse

A really great summation/eulogy for Sen. Kennedy, Chris. Thank you.

And thank you, Senator Kennedy, for your decades of service to your nation and your ideals. God bless and keep you.

Posted by: dbitt | August 26, 2009 11:05 AM | Report abuse

a flacid haigiography of a man on the judicary committee who waqs above the law-a hopocrite in the castle of hypocracy let him enjoy his time with lucifer rip mary jo

Posted by: philoernie | August 26, 2009 11:04 AM | Report abuse

Let's see Jake - what exactly does it take for you to move from your ironclad positions? Senators on both sides of the aisle continually state the same thing - even saying "we never freakin' agreed with the jackal, but he was a damn good Senator".

Yet you can't concede an inch. Yeah, we continue to want to hear from you. You're such an education.

Posted by: JohnDinHouston | August 26, 2009 10:59 AM | Report abuse

ddawd writes
"To me, Ted Kennedy never really exemplified the culture wars of the 60s the way that say Nixon or Reagan or Clinton did. To me, he was more of a participant in New Deal vs laissez faire divide of the 1980s. I don't think he wasn't an ardent opponent of the Vietnam involvement. He will be most remembered for being an anti-Reagan soldier. That's when he really came into his own."


ddawd, that's a reasonable point, but his place in politics is not defined only by his positions, but by how he was perceived as well. While he was not involved in the culture wars, per se, he was a powerful symbol within them. For instance, do you recall the shot taken at Sen Kerry by Bush 43 in describing Sen Kennedy as "not even the most liberal Senator from Massachusetts" (I paraphrase)?

Posted by: bsimon1 | August 26, 2009 10:58 AM | Report abuse

The left makes this Harvard test cheating, drunken, philandering killer of a young woman their hero? This is the best the Democrats and socialists have to offer? Ted Kennedy was a disgusting man that only achieved stature of any kind through an accident of birth into a wealthy family. Any common working man would have been in prison for a number of things Ted Kennedy has gotten away with. He is a disgusting man. Only those who love free hand outs despite the source stand around for his crumbs.

Posted by: good_angel | August 26, 2009 10:56 AM | Report abuse

Yes, as CC says, in 1981 he gave up presidential aspirations (if they were ever his own) and focused on the Senate. That is what I meant by saying he found his voice there. His true calling, really.

Posted by: yeswiican | August 26, 2009 10:52 AM | Report abuse

RIP Senator Kennedy and all sympathies to his family and loved ones. His was an amazing story in which he bounced back from tragedy after tragedy, mistake after mistake, never giving up but doubling down on his efforts to make life better for all Americans.

Who will pick up the mantle of bipartisanship that made him practically an indispensable member of the Senate according to Sen. McCain? Pres. Obama was ushered in as President pursuant to his message of change, but despite his talk and reaching out, there has not been much change in how Washington works. Congress remains focused on accumulating power rather than using it effectively. But look how hard it is to pass major legislation even when you have 60 votes in the Senate and a huge majority in the House.

In the face of Republican opposition to just about everything, there are rumblings of just pushing through legislation with the Democratic majority. As difficult as some Republicans may make the fight, legislation such as health care can only get done in a bipartisan way -- witness the major pieces of legislation in the past in which Sen. Kennedy had a republican co-sponsor.

When bipartisanship gets tough, the true leaders (such as Sen. Kennedy was whether you agree with his policies or not) step up and keep fighting because they know who they're really working for: all Americans.

Posted by: jrosco3 | August 26, 2009 10:51 AM | Report abuse

"While, at 77, Senator Kennedy was not himself a boomer, his public life is one that took place entirely during the boomers' political adulthood. Perhaps his death will mark, along with the election of a post-boomer as President, the passing of a torch from one generation to the next. One by one the old guard are leaving politics, being replaced by people who are tired of the old culture wars and looking to solve the problems of the 21st century."

To me, Ted Kennedy never really exemplified the culture wars of the 60s the way that say Nixon or Reagan or Clinton did. To me, he was more of a participant in New Deal vs laissez faire divide of the 1980s. I don't think he wasn't an ardent opponent of the Vietnam involvement. He will be most remembered for being an anti-Reagan soldier. That's when he really came into his own.

Posted by: DDAWD | August 26, 2009 10:48 AM | Report abuse

It means the baton has passed.

Posted by: SarahBB | August 26, 2009 10:46 AM | Report abuse

The Histrionics! The exaggeration! RIP Ted.
The Kennedy family has had ONE BAD IDEA AFTER ANOTHER. They, more than any other persons, have contributed to the downfall of this country. RIP Ted ... but, thank God it's over! The Kennedy's are without a doubt, the worst political dynasty EVER in American history and perhaps world history, second only to the Medici corrupting the Bourbon line in France. This family is overrated and therefore their ideas are overrated. They've done nothing but poison American politics ever since John was murdered by communists. They are used as fantasy by so many nut jobs on the left. Thank god this last one has passed. Perhaps we can start fixing America instead of tearing it down as this bunch has done for nearly 50 years. Just look what's happened to our country since the first of this monstrous clan got into politics. America has become the most reviled nation on Earth since JFK first got us into Vietnam....the beginning of a poisonous ideology that has brought the USA to its knees.
RIP Ted. But do not let this whacked out Media cabal brainwash you into thinking these people were actually good for America. Huffington Post looks like Kennedy Propaganda Central. What a joke ;P

Posted by: mordezlet1 | August 26, 2009 10:38 AM | Report abuse

"thaf" = "that" (darn Spellchecker ; )

P.S. for at least some of us Reagan voters, Ted Kennedy's primary challenge against Carter was hardly "disappointing".

Posted by: JakeD | August 26, 2009 10:18 AM | Report abuse

While, at 77, Senator Kennedy was not himself a boomer, his public life is one that took place entirely during the boomers' political adulthood. Perhaps his death will mark, along with the election of a post-boomer as President, the passing of a torch from one generation to the next. One by one the old guard are leaving politics, being replaced by people who are tired of the old culture wars and looking to solve the problems of the 21st century.

Posted by: bsimon1 | August 26, 2009 10:16 AM | Report abuse

Those of us alive for John and Robert also know thaf Ted paled by comparison. Mary Jo's revenge at last.

Posted by: JakeD | August 26, 2009 10:11 AM | Report abuse


It is not the name Kennedy itself, or the family, that is essential. It is the spirit of public service, of caring for "the least of these" which must go on.

Senator Kennedy saw that in his young colleague from Illinois. "...the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die."

Posted by: yeswiican | August 26, 2009 10:11 AM | Report abuse

Again, CC, an "Ignore Commenter" feature would be much appreciated.

RIP, Teddy.

Posted by: nodebris | August 26, 2009 10:09 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: DDAWD | August 26, 2009 10:08 AM | Report abuse

His death may also signal the end of a political dynasty. I think there's only one remaining member of that tier of the family tree and no one left in the family with the influence of John, Robert, and Ted. You have more and more people who post-date the JFK assassination and don't hold the name in the iconic stature it once was held in.

Posted by: DDAWD | August 26, 2009 10:05 AM | Report abuse

No, one does NOT have to admit that (or visit your site).

Posted by: JakeD | August 26, 2009 10:03 AM | Report abuse

No matter your personal politics, one has to admit that Kennedy was an iconic figure in American history and a true gold standard for members of the U.S. Senate.

A very sad, though not unexpected, day...

http://www.political-buzz.com/

Posted by: parkerfl1 | August 26, 2009 9:58 AM | Report abuse

The U.S. Senate is no longer filibuster-proof.

Posted by: JakeD | August 26, 2009 9:55 AM | Report abuse

Thank God he never became President.

Posted by: JakeD | August 26, 2009 9:49 AM | Report abuse

Ted Kennedy found his voice in the Senate, and although he helped pass a great deal of legislation, his greatest cause was always health care for his fellow citizens.

If there is only one thing he can contribute to the current debate in his passing, it is his profound sense of duty to the American people. I hope the other 99 can find the capacity to do what is right.

God bless you, Senator Kennedy.

Posted by: yeswiican | August 26, 2009 9:46 AM | Report abuse

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