Massachusetts Senator Edward Moore “Teddy” Kennedy, 77, Has Died

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It’s now 12:30 a.m. I just began this piece.

I cannot believe it.

I’ve just seen the startling news on CBS (cutting into Craig Ferguson’s Late, Late Show antics) that Teddy Kennedy, last of the fabled Kennedy brothers has crossed over to his ancestors.

It was going to come, but it is a shock, nevertheless. To me, Kennedys have been around forever–about forty-nine years to be exact, beginning on Election Day, 1960. I was six when JFK was elected; nine when he was shot; fourteen when RFK was shot. Ted Kennedy died in bed, still in harness to the Senate, like a natural man. Now, they’re all gone, that generation of Kennedy men. I think his sister Eunice’s death really got to him. Only Jean is left. His request for Massachusetts to think about a successor was greeted with disbelief in many quarters a few days ago. I think now, in retrospect, that disbelief was about the very thought of his leaving us before his last fight–over national health care–was over.

Now he has.

Seems as if this has been a year for beginnings…and endings.

Ted, you did have shortcomings. You drank. You were a womanizer. You taught some bad habits to your sons and your nephews, like William Kennedy Smith; habits that caught up with you when you sat relatively mute while Anita Hill caught hell during the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings. You got into a highly destructive feud with Jimmy Carter. You caused the death of “boiler room” secretary–your brother Robert’s secretary–Mary Jo Kopechne. And then, when Roger Mudd asked, you didn’t know why the hell you wanted to be president in the first place.

But you were a great senator, and health care was the cause of your life.

Ted, you wanted to vote in national health care for Americans long before everyone else began to see that it was needed. Once you said something to the effect that if you were a working man and not a rich man, you would feel badly if your mother didn’t have the best health care available. You stopped drinking. You became one of the best senators in American history. You had hoped he might step up eventually, but you helped to bury your nephew John F. Kennedy, Jr. and his wife with honor and dignity, as well as your glamorous sister-in-law. You remained Uncle Ted, the patriarch of good times, sunny days, touch football and sailing parties. I couldn’t call you a complete sellout for hanging with the likes of Orrin Hatch and Ronald Reagan. And in the name of human decency and Democratic unity, you stood up for Barack Obama after Bill and Hillary Clinton sought to use race to crowbar their way back into the White House. You hated that crap–racial dog whistles and code words–with a passion.

On Jan. 14, the day after Robert Johnson’s appearance with Hillary, Bill Clinton called Kennedy. Kennedy decided not to call him back immediately, preferring to think about everything that had happened over the previous 10 days before talking to him. But Kennedy did talk to Obama, discussing generally what was happening. For Kennedy, the injection of race into the campaign was hurting both candidates and alienating the party’s African American base. Obama said he was not personally bothered by what the Clintons had said, but he knew how much others had been. With his characteristic self-confidence, he told Kennedy he expected to win — not just South Carolina, but the Democratic nomination — and again asked Kennedy for his endorsement. That’s what you and your family are always about, Obama said, change and progress. Later, Kennedy, struck by Obama’s confidence, told people close to him that he admired the way Obama was running his campaign. The Clintons, he said, were misrepresenting things for racial reasons. He found it all very offensive.

You were a long way away from that old racist of a father. I think you finally got away from him, the old cheater, womanizer, and fascist symp. Like Bobby had.

You were your own man; and you were a Kennedy.

Not lace curtain Irish. Not shanty Irish.

You were a Kennedy. Legendary.


~ by blksista on August 26, 2009.

One Response to “Massachusetts Senator Edward Moore “Teddy” Kennedy, 77, Has Died”

  1. […] sports, entertainment, and life in general.The Fire Pit –|||Massachusetts Senator Edward Moore “Teddy” Kennedy, 77, Has Died …It's now 12:30 a.m.. I've just seen the startling news on CBS (cutting into Craig Ferguson) […]


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