Friday, August 28, 2009

The Measure of a Man

The graciousness of Senator Ted Kennedy's wife and others in the Kennedy clan during their bereavement reflects the graciousness and generosity of Senator Kennedy himself. Among the thousands who waited hours to pay their final respects to Ted Kennedy, Vicki Reggi Kennedy and Robert walked, clasping hands, expressing thanks and hearing regards; giving of themselves even during their grief. It was the right thing to do, the kind of thing Ted Kennedy did, in fact, after a chemotherapy treatment last month. He visited a Massachusetts family whose son died in Iraq, expessing condolences, commisserating. If the numbers of people whose lives were improved as a result of Ted Kennedy's efforts throughout his nearly 50 year career were queueing up to view his repose in the JFK library, a burial would be years off.

The scope is expansive and legendary. Ted Kennedy, born with the ultimate American silver spoon in his mouth,
fought persistently and successfully on behalf of Everyman and the dispossessed among us: minorities, gays, minimum wage earners, the disabled, immigrants, the poor. He even played a role in deregulating airfares, facilitating a ticket to ride for many who may not have gone before. For nearly fifty years, if he was at the club having a martini after a round, it's probably safe to assume he was championing some beneficial cause, gladhanding with his fellow elite.

The Kennedy brothers had our backs in ways no one else did or does; they were civil rights icons. Senator Kennedy's death signifies the end of a political era (eagerly anticipated by some), a generational milestone in a family dynasty, and yields a gaping hole in liberal leadership. There are younger Kennedys doing good things with significant impact, but how many from the platform of public office? How many Kennedy proteges on the Hill or in state legislatures or Governors' mansions?

Ted Kennedy's eulogy of his brother Bobby,can be accurately applied to himself:
My brother 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.
Ted Kennedy was a good and decent man, a son of America's royal family, and like any of us, he had shortcomings. His legacy is stained by family and personal tragedyies, none private, but known around the world. Still, even without "enlarging in death beyond what he was in life", it's difficult to fully grasp the breadth of the positive impact of Ted Kennedy's life at work. The most we can do, is stand in line to pay homage before his flag-draped casket, and clasp the hands of his wife and nephew in remembrance. Hopefully, this evening's private celebration of his life will be a huge, happy and raucous Irish wake; maybe it can come close to being as big as the man.

1 comment:

The BoBo said...

A real man wouldn't leave a woman to die in the back of a sinking car. Mary Jo Kopechne was still alive in that back seat when Teddy boy ran off like a coward.

"The diver who recovered Kopechne’s body, John Farrar testified at the official inquest that her body was found where the air pocket would have formed. He said: “Had I received a call within five to ten minutes of the accident occurring, and was able, as I was the following morning, to be at the victim's side within twenty-five minutes of receiving the call, in such event there is a strong possibility that she would have been alive on removal from the submerged car.” " (http://spectator.org/archives/2009/08/28/the-kopechne-effect)

Anybody who continues to praise this coward is being dishonest. He should have been in jail for murder this whole time - but - he was "privileged" and a Kennedy and got away with it.

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