BREAKING: Ted Kennedy Is Dead


BOSTON GLOBE: Senator Edward M. Kennedy, who carried aloft the torch of a Massachusetts dynasty and championed a liberal ideology during almost a half century in the Senate, but whose personal and political failings may have prevented him from realizing the ultimate prize of the presidency, died Tuesday night at his home in Hyannis Port. He was 77 and had been  Senator Edward M. Kennedy battling brain cancer.  Senator Edward M. Kennedy

Overcoming a history of family tragedy, which included the assassinations of a brother who was president and another who sought to occupy the White House, Kennedy seized on the role of being a “Senate man.” He became a Democratic titan of Washington who fought for the less fortunate, who crafted unlikely deals with conservative Republicans, and who ceaselessly sought support for universal health coverage.

“Teddy,” as he was known to intimates, constituents, and even his fiercest enemies, was a unwavering symbol to the left and the right — the former for his unapologetic embrace of liberalism, and latter for his value as a political target. But with his fiery rhetoric, his distinctive Massachusetts accent, and his role as representative of one of the nation’s best-known political families, he was widely recognized as an American original. In the end, some of those who might have been his harshest political enemies, including former President George W. Bush, found ways to collaborate with the man who was called the “last lion” of the Senate. MORE

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BY SAINT JOHN BARNED-SMITH I am from Massachusetts, so I’m calling in Beantown privilege to talk about Ted Kennedy. It’s strange to think of Massachusetts without a serious Kennedy in office – without an old school liberal powerhouse like Ted. Kennedy, as you may or may not know, has served in the US Senate since 1962. In 1960, JFK vacated his Senate to run for president, but in a moment of old boyism that would only work in MA, the governor appointed a Kennedy family friend to hold the seat until Ted turned 30, the minimum age for a U.S. Senator.

As such, Kennedy is now second in seniority only to Robert Byrd of West Virginia. And to most ofobamakennedy_1.jpg Massachusetts, he couldn’t lose an election even if he pissed on the Pope and spat on the Irish flag. Unlike his brothers, Ted was not snuffed out in his prime, and so his indiscretions, mistakes, and faults had consequences. While JFK’s many dalliances are an open secret Jack never had to answer for, the tragedy at Chappauquiddick, his many liaisons, and his drinking have long been a matter of public record, for which he had to answer to the voters of Massachusetts every six years. And every six years the people of Massachusetts said: You are forgiven.

Now, his days are numbered. I wouldn’t even have written this piece, until I saw a Boston Herald piece entitled “The Lion Roars Again.” During his speech Monday night, in a massive endorsement of Barack Obama, he said “Yes we can, and finally, yes, we will!” Kennedy challenged nation to believe in Obama’s aspirations for a better America the same way they believed in his brother when he said, quite improbably when you think about it, ‘let’s go to the moon.’ Whether or not you agree with Kennedy, you cannot deny his legacy. He’s led the fight on LGBT rights, on education, on healthcare, on immigration, on gun control, on the minimum wage, on the environment, and on financial aid for students. He’s become the whipping boy of the Republican party, and endured unimaginable personal tragedy and public humiliation. But partisan politics aside, Kennedy he will be remembered as one of the most heroic, flawed, and wounded leaders of the last 40 years. And when his time finally comes, the torch will truly have been passed to a new generation and the keys to Camelot will be handed to the Obamas. May God have mercy on them. — 7/26/08

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