Ted Kennedy Dies at 77

225px-Ted_Kennedy,_official_photo_portrait_cropThe ‘Lion of the Senate” is dead. Massachusetts Sen. Edward Kennedy lost his battle with brain cancer on Tuesday and died at 77. With his death, the country lost one of the most tireless and passionate voices for the poor and powerless in our nation.

I had the pleasure of meeting Kennedy many times through the years, starting when I was a page and then again when I ran as the youngest delegate candidate for the Democratic National Convention in 1980. I also served as his campaign coordinator for the birth district of Ronald Reagan in Galesburg, Illinois.

He was someone of tremendous privilege who became a voice for the underprivileged. He lived through unimaginable tragedies in his personal life, but remained famously optimistic about the future. His family issued the following statement: “We’ve lost the irreplaceable center of our family and joyous light in our lives, but the inspiration of his faith, optimism and perseverance will live on in our hearts forever. We thank everyone who gave him care and support over this last year, and everyone who stood with him for so many years in his tireless march for progress toward justice.”

One of his most moving speeches came with one of his greatest tragedies: the murder of this brother Bobby:

For those of us on the 1980 campaign, the highlight was his 1980 convention speech:

His own words about his brother Bobby fit his own life all too well:

[He] need not be idealized, or enlarged in death beyond what he was in life; to 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.

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43 thoughts on “Ted Kennedy Dies at 77”

  1. Mike S.,

    I really appreciate your prospective of Ted Kennedy. I had not looked at it that way. Thanks again.

  2. I am proudly a supporter of the Kennedy Family and yet I am more than knowledgeable of all their reported flaws. The deaths of JFK and RFK, in both of which I’ve studied the available materials, were the result of conspiracy and probably treason.

    It is a flawed family indeed, but then who among us can look at ourselves and/or our own family history and no see flaws. My father served time in Federal Prison and his closest friends were connected in some way with organized crime. Yet he was a highly intelligent man who gave me a respect for our country, the law and the need for me to be honest. My mother suffered from severe depression and was probably addicted to prescribed pain killers, due to her severe heart ailments. She taught me the evils of bigotry and racism. Both of them, in the short time I had them helped make me the relative “straight arrow” that I am, despite their own obvious flaws. Incidentally, they each had eight siblings, just like the Kennedy’s.

    In the end a family group needs be measured politically by what they have accomplished, what they have sacrificed and by the goals they have espoused. The Kennedy Family has from this generation past and hopefully into the future fought battles for people lacking the privileges they received from birth. The Bush family has built a legacy of greed based self interest and evinced a lack of caring for any but those of their perceived class.

    Ted Kennedy improbably became the greatest member of his family and in the process became the greatest Senator since Daniel Webster.

  3. “On July 25, seven days after the incident, Kennedy entered a plea of guilty to a charge of leaving the scene of an accident after causing injury.”

    This original court record does little to justify the concept that TK’s actions led directly to to Mary Jo Kopechne’s death. Have you ever investigated the crime scene, or have you ever gone off of a bridge into the water and found yourself underwater trapped in a car, with the knowledge of near certain death at hand? no one knows what truly happened after the dive off of the bridge, but given that no one knows what efforts TK made to actually save the girl. Should he have left the scene, perhaps no, but in that deserted stretch, before the cell phone, who could he have called. Could he have been concussed or in shock, no one will ever know and to use that incident alone as a summation of his frailty is I think unfair, but certainly within your prerogative.

    As F.Scott Fitzgerald said: The rich are different from you and me. While it is not something I like, it is unarguably true. In that context as GWLSM mentioned Laura Bush’s convenient killing of her former boyfriend, seems more direct an accusation, yet who ever pins the label on her? I believe that her draft dodger husband, you and I are both old enough to remember that the Air National Guard was one of the favorite options for the wealthy and connected to avoid the Viet Nam Draft, also bears some guilt for refusing to put his life on the line for a war he supported. As does Dick Cheney.
    As for actual murder though Bush/Cheney are directly responsible for the deaths of at least 4,000 and the maiming of 25,000 more of our troops and untold hundreds of thousands of Iraqi’s and Afghani’s. Yet they will both live out their lives in luxury.

    Chappaquiddick is no proud history to have on ones’ record, but it becomes totally insignificant in the light of the mass murder perpetrated by our previous administration.

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