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Teddy Kennedy

I'm not looking for a fight or an argument.  I know that Ted Kennedy was a flawed human being, that his flaws cost a young woman her life, that he hurt his children and his first wife and others with his drinking.  I don't presume to make excuses for him.  He had to live with his flaws and following the tenets of his faith, he believed that he would have to answer for them before he would find rest.

I also know that he made this country a better place.  The countless pieces of legislation he authored improved people's lives.  They brought justice and freedoms to those who were desperate to throw off the burdens of prejudice and poverty; they shone the light of education into places darkened for too long by ignorance and neglect; and they offered comfort and healing to those who couldn't have afforded a doctor's care or a pharmacist's cure without the government's help.   He was the very embodiment of public service.  When Republicans turned the word "Liberal" into a epithet and Democrats ran from the label, fearing for their political lives, Teddy Kennedy proudly embraced it.  He remained committed to his ideals throughout his career.  He was a patriot in the truest sense of the word, devoting his life to his country, criticizing her leaders when they deserved to be criticized, and fighting always to protect the weakest and poorest and most vulnerable among us.

I slept better at night knowing that Teddy was in the United States Senate working tirelessly for causes in which I believed as passionately as he.  I wish he had lived to see the passage of a health care reform bill, and I hope that when the bill does pass that it will bear his name.

The world is a slightly darker place tonight because he's gone.  


( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 27th, 2009 04:48 am (UTC)
I haven't really figured out my thoughts until now. I recently saw the classic trailer for Citizen Kane; Edward Kennedy was the modern equivalent of Charles Foster Kane. A saint and a sinner; a monster and a hero. There are many, many facets of triumph and tragedy. And yet, that day a year or so ago when he came out with Caroline and endorsed Obama.
Aug. 27th, 2009 03:19 pm (UTC)
I don't believe he was a monster, any more than I believe he was a saint. He was a man, flawed, but gifted. And I'm not sure where you were going with that last sentence, but to me that was one of the most thrilling days of a thrilling campaign.
Aug. 27th, 2009 03:35 pm (UTC)
Exactly. That was a wonderful day.
(Deleted comment)
Aug. 27th, 2009 03:22 pm (UTC)
Right, Alis. Estellye's comment below is an excellent one: there is no such thing as a perfect person, and if the founders had had to live up to the standards we set for today's public figures, and had been forced to live their lives in the spotlight of the 24 hour news cycle, none of them would have stood up to the scrutiny. We have set an impossible standard.
Aug. 27th, 2009 02:21 pm (UTC)
One of the saddest things that has happened to our culture is our inability to have heroes. We deride people who look up to anyone because we know too much about these supposed idols. Everyone is imperfect and people who are capable of great things are equally capable of great mistakes.

I often go back to our founding patriots John Adams, Ben Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson. They worked toward the realization of their ideals even when they were unable to live up to them in their own lives, and we are all better off because of it. Teddy Kennedy couldn't live up to his own ideals, but the important thing is he had them, and he fought for them, and this country is a better place because of his dedication.

It's tempting in my own life to shrink from opportunities to do good work just because I feel somehow not saintly enough - that I will be perceived as a hypocrite. It's true bravery to do the work anyway, despite the criticism and scrutiny. Teddy Kennedy was a brave man. This is not an era I was ready to see end.
Aug. 27th, 2009 03:24 pm (UTC)
Terrific comment. Truly. When did heroism become synonymous with perfection? Thanks for posting this.
Aug. 27th, 2009 03:07 pm (UTC)
While I don't agree with many of his policies, I can respect him as a Senator and a man. Unlike most politicians in Congress, he actually believed in what he voted for and it was not simpoly fodder to spout in order to get elected. He believed it and put actions to his words. I can respect that.

So my thoughts go out to the Kennedy Family at this time of their loss. Yeah he was a politician but he was also a father, brother, son, and friend as well.

Farewell Ted.
Aug. 27th, 2009 03:27 pm (UTC)
Another great comment. Thanks for this, Mark. I think that's what I respected most about Kennedy, too. His courage and his commitment. There are other politicians like that: Alan Simpson and Bob Dole and Chuck Hagel on the right; Paul Wellstone on the left. But they are rare.
Aug. 27th, 2009 05:32 pm (UTC)
Agreed. He was a good statesman. There aren't many left, on either side of the aisle. If any.
Aug. 27th, 2009 07:35 pm (UTC)
>>There aren't many left, on either side of the aisle.<<

Amen to that.
Sep. 7th, 2009 12:51 am (UTC)
I was really touched by an article that pointed out that Ted Kennedy's three brothers died while working...and that his goal was to stay in Congress long enough that he, too, would die on the job.

And he did. Bless him.
Sep. 7th, 2009 03:59 pm (UTC)
Whatever his faults, he did devote himself to his work and to his constituents. I respect that.
( 13 comments — Leave a comment )


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