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August 26, 2009

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I didn't expect this, at least right now. I thought there'd be a week or at least a few days of "critical status" before the end.

I wonder how much his passing will influence the passage of decent health care legislation, especially since he was explicit about it being his greatest goal (in his speech last year at the Democratic Convention).

Will his death be a splash of cold water in the face of Dems in D.C.? I hope so.

In the spirit of not speaking badly of the dead, I have nothing to say.

I'm truly stunned. He has fought, fought, fought for the people of Massachusetts and for children, the poor, and the oppressed in this country by the millions. I thought there would be more time, somehow, to get used to the idea that he was going. My thoughts, like those of all of us here in MA and people around the world, are with his family. He was merely human,and he made mistakes, but he gave of himself, selflessly, to his constituents and never flagged despite the ceaseless calumny of his political enemies.

aimai

BBC tribute to Senator Kennedy.

Financial Times records international, American, and family tributes to Kennedy's memory.

The Telegraph reminds us that it's a rare person of whom it can be said that both Ian Paisley, the most rabid of Unionists, and Brian Cowen, Taoiseach of the Irish Parliament, spoke in his praise.

And Kathryn Jean Lopez sets a fine example for Brett Bellmore (not a sentence I thought I'd ever write in any sincerity).

I think Kathryn Jean Lopez has summarized my thoughts pretty well. I was thinking about this on the way in: there are decent ways to speak of the dead, even if they have been lifelong opponents. KJL has done a fine job of expressing my sentiments.

Brett has perfected the art of speaking ill of the dead without speaking ill of the dead, it appears. A bit of advice, next time: just don't say anything.

RIP, Edward.

22 The LORD said to Moses, 23 "Tell Aaron and his sons, 'This is how you are to bless the Israelites. Say to them: 24 " ' "The LORD bless you and keep you;

25 the LORD make his face shine upon you
and be gracious to you;

26 the LORD turn his face toward you
and give you peace." '

Seems fitting, here.

The sadness hit in a couple of quick waves after hearing, and put tears in my eyes in a way a public loss virtually never does to me. To go from the sublime to the slightly ridiculous, the HBO bio-doc on him is really highly recommended.

He was a throwback. An anomaly. An anachronism. An inconvenience.

In an age where his fellow Democrats had largely reached consensus around three core tenets:

(1) "Kick Me";

(2) "I am NOT a hippie!";

and

(3) "This political party is brought to you by a generous endowment from the Eli Lilly Corporation";

Teddy kept on stubbornly acting as if being a Democrat should mean something more than being a somewhat less Republican Republican.

He will be sorely missed.

Kennedy was a guy who could have coasted through life quite comfortably, but he worked his ass off for the benefit of other people.

Folks may disagree with his approach to doing that, or may find his politics absolutely wrong-headed, or may simply just not like the guy for any of 1,000 reasons.

But the guy could have spent his days sailing, sitting in the sun, and having lovely lunches, and he didn't.

What Uncle K said, he's probably the last of the straight up, unapologetic liberals. We might not ever see another.

I think it really is the end of an era.

"He has fought, fought, fought for the people of Massachusetts..."

yeah, except for that Kopechne girl...he didn't fight too hard to save her, did he?

No matter what he accomplished in his long life of living off the taxpayers, he left that girl to die in his Chevy, left her with no thought to anything other than his own politican viability, left her to die a cold and slow and terrifying death while he went off in search of ass-cover.

qui couper le fromage?

No matter what he accomplished in his long life of living off the taxpayers,

Ted Kennedy lived primarily off the income from several trusts set up by his late father and various other investments and speaking fees. I won't dignify the rest of your cretinous assholery with a response.

To use a biblical allusion, Ted Kennedy in a way seems a bit like Moses, looking at the Promised Land in respect to health care, but never being able to enter.

But, hey, who says life is supposed to be fair?

When John F. Kennedy was assassinated, the students at my elementary school were let out an hour early. While we waited for our buses and/or parents to come pick us up, we were sent outside, but were restricted to one small around of the playground nearest to the parking lot.

This meant that I had to stand quietly, in shock and with tears beginning to well, while many of my schoolmates ran around celebrating the killing of the president, using insults learned from their ignorant, bigoted parents.

Thanks so much for recreating a cherished childhood moment, tomaig. At least this time I don't have to stay on the playground.

What Aimai said.

And DNFTT, folks: mice and lions both make noise to advertise their presence, but there's still no doubt about where they stand, respectively, in the food chain.

For myself, in a career Senator, I would much prefer to be represented by a committed fighter for principle - like a Ted Kennedy - flaws or no, than by a more rectitudinous nonenity. The Senate has been stuffed with too many of the latter throughout our history: Edward M. Kennedy was one of its titans by comparison.

RIP.

If K-Lo's sum-up of "he was a horrible sinner but that's God's problem, not mine" is what conservatives consider a "decent" send-off... well.

Seriously. How hard is it to say something like "I didn't agree with his positions but he was a dedicated public servant" or even "I didn't like him, but I acknowledge that he had a hard job"? K-Lo couldn't even manage that.

Most republicans are selfish and just not good hearted people. You can't expect much from them.

Condolences to my American friends.

May his inheritors continue to follow the long and hard path that bends, at last, towards justice.

Rest in peace.

.
You know what the garbage-minds of the Right will come out with? Chappaquiddick, of course.

But they don't have ONE Senator who's ever done ANYTHING for the American people.

I'll see your Chappaquiddick and raise you Abu Graibh, dirtbags.
.

If K-Lo's sum-up of "he was a horrible sinner but that's God's problem, not mine" is what conservatives consider a "decent" send-off... well.

I'd give a lot of money to see Shakespeare put through your filter, MGK. It'd probably wind up reading like Philip Marlowe.

I withdraw that last. This is not the place to voice such disagreements.

At least this one wasn't a shock, wasn't an assassination; at least we had Teddy working for us for so many decades.

He was someone the underprivileged and powerless could count on - not merely to sympathize, not merely to say nice things; but to actually be effective, to actually get something done for them - and, no, there isn't anyone like that left.

I have spent all of my adult life with Sen Kennedy as the most competent and aggressive proponent of many things I disagree with, and a few that I did.

However, he was the one thing we need many more of now, a true Senator. A man of conviction and principle who understood that achieving things required him to understand the hopes, fears and dreams of his opponents as well as his constituency. Any Senate without him is not as good, the current one is diminished exponentially.

I will remmber him with the respect and admiration he has earned as a public servant.

Rest in Peace, play a little football with your brothers.

WBUR, the Boston NPR station, asked for folks to call in with Ted stories. They broadcast this one, from a 9/11 widow.

The woman, choking back the tears, said that, although she had received many condolences and kindnesses, at some point she felt she had been forgotten. Then, three years after 9/11, she got a call from Kennedy's office.

"What are you doing Saturday? The Senator would like to invite you to go sailing."

yeah, except for that Kopechne girl...he didn't fight too hard to save her, did he?

How the hell would you know?

What cosanostradamus said: Edward Kennedy never glorified drowning young women as heroic Americanism, never suggested that it be our policy of response to possible threats by young women or others, never held it up as an example of sound labor-management relations. He was a survivor from a better era, when it seemed that some of the benefits held by relatively privileged groups might yet be spread to others, rather than the circle of privilege contracting and contracting again.

You know what the garbage-minds of the Right will come out with? Chappaquiddick, of course.

Did he have a mild concussion that night? The Globe referenced it, but it might be memorial excuse-making.....

Mark you this, Bassanio,
The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose.
An evil soul producing holy witness
Is like a villain with a smiling cheek,
A goodly apple rotten at the heart:
O, what a goodly outside falsehood hath!

You know what the garbage-minds of the Right will come out with? Chappaquiddick, of course.

Yes, and already we have rats coming out of the woodwork to do so.

Now, I don't subscribe to the philosophy that it's wrong to speak ill of the recently dead--except when you're having a personal conversation with someone who was close to the deceased. I'm pretty much at the end of my tolerance for the way this tradition has allowed so many of our homegrown monsters and douchebags to have their legacy posthumously whitewashed in the spirit of not speaking ill. So I don't really have any moral objection to the trolls popping up to piss on the Kennedy memory.

With that said, it is possibly one of the greatest tributes to Ted Kennedy's memory and career that when taking the full measure of his life and accomplishments, the best his detractors can come up with is a single terrible mistake he made forty years ago.

If that's all you've got--if all you can do in response to a 46-year career in public service is shout "Chappaquiddick!" as reflexively as Pavlov's dogs drooled--then by all means, shout yourself hoarse.

I must say, there's something sick about idolizing politicians like that, and something sicker about idolizing politicians who've committed manslaughter, and never had to pay the consequences us ordinary mortals would.

Catsy, you only need to kill somebody once, it matters your whole life.

The way I hear it, Republicans didn't try to use that death to finish Teddy off, because they thought they could use it as a club to influence him. They underestimated what politicians can live down, given enough time, and the adoration of the media.

I don't really care what he did during the part of his career that never should have existed if left-wing politicians didn't get a pass on killing people.

In the spirit of not speaking badly of the dead, I have nothing to say.

Well, that lasted for a part of one day.

Nell: Thanks. I had a similar experience in 1963. Awful. I think that was my political awakening (5th grade).

Stephen King's oft-used "like a dog to his vomit" springs to mind, Eric.

As little expertise as I have in the category of when to shut up, I might just have some skills to impart to Mr. Bellmore.

I don't really care what he did during the part of his career that never should have existed if left-wing politicians didn't get a pass on killing people.

Left-wing politicians like Laura Bush?

I can think of millions of reasons why Kennedy would have gotten special treatment other than his being a liberal. That you can't is kinda pathetic.

I must say, there's something sick about idolizing politicians like that, and something sicker about idolizing politicians who've committed manslaughter, and never had to pay the consequences us ordinary mortals would.

I doubt very much an ordinary mortal would have been even charged with manslaughter.

Catsy, you only need to kill somebody once, it matters your whole life.

ORLY?

Three quick comments/experiences:

1) I was 17, in high school (and the voting age was 21), and living just outside Boston the first time Ted ran for the Senate in 1962. It was a scion vs. scion race, with the last of the Lodges as the GOP nominee. [Aside to the children - This is actually when the GOP was a reasonable and viable political party, nationwide, when Ronnie Reagan was just another second-rate actor.]

Ted came to our neighborhood to campaign, and being high-school boys and therefore respectors of nothing and nobody, we got into line to shake his hand, just so we could say "vote for Lodge."

2) When JFK was shot the next year, I was a freshman in college. A buddy and I were going to meet a couple of girls, and in an effort to impress them a little bit [in very different times] wore our ROTC uniforms. We went to one of the girls' houses, and turned on the TV just in time to see Walter Cronkite make the first announcement - that the president had "apparently" been shot. The day and weekend which followed were surreal. Classes were cancelled. Everything was cancelled (except for the NFL - one of Pete Rozelle's very few mistakes). Nobody went to parties. Nobody went to the movies. And everyone I knew got as near as possible to some black and white TV for as long as possible, at least until the funeral was over. There was no horsing around in the dorm, meals were incredibly subdued.

3) Chapaquiddick. Remember there was no cable, no 24/7 news of any kind. Yet it was a huge national story. A friend and I were watching NBC, and John Chancellor (I think - its a long time ago) said the Senator's career was finished. At the end of the broadcast, my friend actually called NBC in New York, and got put through to Chancellor, to argue with him. And Chancellor was quite wrong, of course, although I do think Chappaquiddick prevented Ted from ever becoming the Dem nomineee and therefore President.

Retrospective: things were quite well-behaved, here, when Reagan died.

Just as a point of reference.

re: Slart's link.

oh geez. i guess i hadn't discovered this place when Moe still worked here... but wow:

But there are limits, and I do not and will not apologize for refusing to tolerate transgressions of them*. I will also not be amused by people ignoring those rare times when I officially Lower The Boom.

i guess some things never change.

oh geez. i guess i hadn't discovered this place when Moe still worked here... but wow:...i guess some things never change.

You're just jealous you didn't get Blammed™ by him both here and at Bizarro World. ;-)

Catsy, you only need to kill somebody once, it matters your whole life.

Yes, it does. You can be sure Ted Kennedy never forgot. Kopechne's death weighed on him for the rest of his life, and I don't think that's inappropriate. I know that if I were ever responsible for someone's death through my own negligence, it would haunt me until the end of my days, regardless of what legal consequences I suffered as a result. I'm not a believer, but I'd like to think that such a traumatic and transformational event would drive me to better myself, and devote the remainder of my years to making the world a better place in some fashion, especially if I subscribed to a religion that emphasized redemption through good works.

And I would hope that almost half a century later, when I passed away at the end of a long life full of such accomplishments, those who spoke on my death would refrain from glossing over my shortcomings and mistakes, but would also weigh them against the good I've done--particularly the good done in absolution.

I make no excuses for the Chappaquiddick incident. I just don't think it outweighs the life of public service that followed.

Go read Ted Kennedy's wikipedia page. Note the list of legislation that bears his name or in the passing of which he had a major role. Undoubtedly you'll disagree about the merits of some of them. But really stop for a moment and think about think about how many Americans came to this country and had a future because of the Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1965, how many children are alive and more healthy now because of SCHIP, or the impact of the Americans with Disabilities act. These were not his bills alone, but they embody the kind of legislation Ted Kennedy devoted himself to fighting for: making health care available to all Americans, making us healthier as a nation, and lowering the barriers in American society to those who are less fortunate.

Those who insist on ignoring all of this in favor of bleating "Chappaquiddick!" come out looking very small, petty and disingenuous indeed. I find it sadly ironic that most of those who vigorously argue that nothing Kennedy did for the next 40 years after Chappaquiddick matters are the same people who purport to believe in the power of salvation and redemption. Their reactions upon his death tell us all we need to know about how seriously they take that.

Stephen King's oft-used "like a dog to his vomit" springs to mind, Eric.

I think that was actually the author of "Proverbs".

So it was, thanks! Nothing new under the sun, I guess.

I know: Ecclesiastes.

You're just jealous you didn't get Blammed™ by him both here and at Bizarro World

actually, i am. i already had Tacitus and RedState, with this, i coulda hit the trifecta !

efgoldman: Thanks for the rememberances.

I hadn't discovered blogs when Reagan died. Even as a lifelong Democrat, I remember being consumed by all of the TV coverage, knowing I was watching history, knowing a great American had died.

Ted Kennedy was a great American, too.

This from TPM is a small rememberance, but worth noting.

Contrary to the rule Brett referred to but did not follow, I believe in speaking ill of the dead, mostly because I believe in speaking honestly and I abhor hypocrisy. In this spirit, I had no more trouble execrating Robert Novak shortly after his passing than I would have had a week or a year before, and in this spirit I think it would be unjust in remembering Ted Kennedy to omit mention of Chappaquiddick - not that I think many people will commit such an omission.

But, awful as Chappaquiddick was, it wasn't Ted Kennedy's whole life. The man spent almost a half-century in the Senate, and earned the respect of his ideological opponents for his commitment to his goals and for his willingness to work across the aisle when common ground could be found. If Brett and others can't find anything nice to say while they repeat their dislike of Chappaquidick, of Kennedy's failings, and even of his liberal philosophy, it's because they haven't tried.

One good appreciation of Ted Kennedy - a retrospective on his career written on the occasion of his turning 70 - is this excellent piece by Charlie Pierce, published in 2003. It contains an ill-judged line that was pulled from the context of the preceding several paragraphs and then used as a cudgel against its author, but it's worth the read.

Thanx Warren T.
Charlie Pierce is *always* worth a read.

I have always found at least a small amount of irony that so many writers who got their starts in Boston counterculture weeklies (the Phoenix and the Real Paper) ended up in the most establishment organs there are. Pierce, Lupica, Kimball, Denby, Kraemer, many more.

Kennedy was a guy who could have coasted through life quite comfortably, but he worked his ass off for the benefit of other people.

. . .

But the guy could have spent his days sailing, sitting in the sun, and having lovely lunches, and he didn't.

You know, this is what comes to mind for me, regardless of how I felt about his politics or his personal failings. You nailed it for this conservative, Russel, except Catsy's comment makes it complete:

especially if I subscribed to a religion that emphasized redemption through good works.

I always thought his not living the life he could have was penance. I may be wrong on that, but it has allowed me to respect to a certain degree someone I otherwise frankly wouldn't have respected in the least.

Several Republicans I respect have commented positively on what it was like to have Kennedy on your side. And even Orrin Hatch wrote a tribute song .

So I'll pay my respects.

"I always thought his not living the life he could have was penance."

Come on, he was a politician. Continuing to occupy the highest elective office he could still aspire to after killing somebody was about as much "penance" as holding onto a job as a wine taster would be for an oenophile. "Penance" is doing something you DIDN'T want to do. For people of Kennedy's sort, exercising power beats yachting any day, it's what they live for.

But, you're right, I should have just stayed away from this particular comment thread, and let the worship of power play itself out.

especially if I subscribed to a religion that emphasized redemption through good works

I'm not sure what religion that is, Catsy. Ted was a Catholic, and there is something to the notion of Catholic penance, but there's a lot of Christianity that maintains that it is through grace and faith that we are redeemed, not works.

So: no set of scales, on death, where your good deeds and evil ones are weighed against each other. I think most (if not all) of Protestantism has that simple thing as a basic tenet.

Quibble, and not meant to be a commentary on whether Kennedy had redeemed himself. It's not for me to say.

"Penance" is doing something you DIDN'T want to do.

Is that really a requirement? You can't do good works irrespective of how much you do or do not "want" to do them? Might you have a suggestion as to how Ted Kennedy could have done more good outside of politics? Even if so, would it be unreasonable for Ted Kennedy to conclude that, given his circumstances and family history, that he could help people most effectively as a politician? And does it matter what he chose to do as a politician (while joyously exercising his power)?

It sounds to me, Brett, that you must believe that no one could truly want to do good as a politician, since they're really only in it for the power. If so, that would be sad.

I remembered this when I read Hogan's/Eric Martin's comments on the "Why I'm a Ted Kennedy liberal" thread, but it really belongs here:

"On the morning of the day before the funeral of Yitzhak Rabin, Senator Ted Kennedy called the White House to inquire if it was appropriate to bring to the burial some earth from Arlington National Cemetery. The answer was essentially a shrug: Who knows? Unadvised, the senator carried a shopping bag onto the plane, filled with earth he had himself dug the afternoon before from the graves of his two murdered brothers. And at Mount Herzl in Jerusalem, after waiting for the crowd and the cameras to disperse, he dropped to his hands and knees, and gently placed that earth on the grave of the murdered prime minister.

No spin, no photo op; a man unreasonably familiar with bidding farewell to slain heroes, a man in mourning, quietly making tangible a miserable connection."

a man unreasonably familiar with bidding farewell to slain heroes, a man in mourning, quietly making tangible a miserable connection

Kennedy was the only one of his brothers to die a natural death.

Say what you want about the Kennedys, but they paid their dues.

Since we appear to be required to talk about Chappaquiddick on the occasion of Kennedy's death, here's my take, FWIW.

When Ted Kennedy was a young man, he left a party with a young woman and drove his car off a dock. He escaped, and she did not. She drowned.

Whether through confusion, panic, or a desire to cover his own behind, Kennedy failed to report the accident. The car, with the young woman's body inside, was found the next day.

It's quite possible, perhaps even likely, that had he reported the accident immediately, the woman could have been saved. He could have done so. He did not.

It's hard to read Kennedy's actions in that situation as anything other than profound and despicable irresponsibility and cowardice.

He then spent the next 40 years of his life in public service. He was responsible for the passage of a lot of legislation that helped a lot of people in a lot of ways. He used the powers of his office to help many, many, many people directly, and extended himself personally to do the same.

He was a very, very good Senator.

One thing does not redeem the other. I don't think there's anything you can do that "makes up for" causing the death of another person.

Conversely, his actions in Chappaquiddick don't diminish the value of 40 years or more of dedicated public service.

Both things are true, real legacies of Ted Kennedy's life. He was man of parts.

If you want to be Kennedy's judge, have at it. There's plenty of dirty laundry there to point a finger at. Were he alive today, he'd be the first to say so.

I personally would prefer to remember the very many positive, useful, and helpful things he did.

It's a rare person who gets through life without some kind of major league screw-up. They generally don't result in the kind of tragedy that Kennedy's did, but that's more often due to luck than anything resembling virtue.

The question, when and if you manage to blow things up, is what you do with whatever's left when the dust settles. Not in the sense of "making up for" or "redeeming" your failure. What's done is done.

Just in the sense of making the most of whatever is still in your power to do.

The guy could have spent his days sailing, hanging out on the Cape, and generally doing whatever the f**k he wanted. He was a rich guy from a prominent and well-connected family.

Instead, he spent his years putting himself, his privileged position, and his public office at the service of other people.

He is now wherever it is we go when we leave here. I hope he's found peace and rest.

Damn russell. Sometimes you just freakin nail it.

This comment still stands regarding russell, though I'd add "articulate" to the list.

I like reading russell's comments. It's like reading what I would write if were smarter and more patient and knowledgeable.

Posted by: hairshirthedonist | March 03, 2008 at 01:35 PM

(Well, the link takes me to the main post, not that comment, for some reason. I don't know how to fix that.)

Gentlemen, thanks for the kind words. Frankly, it's a privilege to participate here.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Whatnot


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