This will be a different post from what I’ve written before. Basically, I’ll be writing a bunch of words and phrases that I associate with the late Senator Edward Kennedy. And, when I feel like it, I’ll throw in some anecdotes.
I first heard of Edward Kennedy from my Grandma Goldie’s scrapbook. Grandma Goldie was one of the few Democrats I knew growing up, and she had pictures of her favorite politicians, such as JFK, Jimmy Carter, and Ted Kennedy. I wonder whom she voted for in the 1980 Democratic Primary.
Democrat. Liberal. Judiciary Committee. Arlen Specter says “Let him answer, Senator Kennedy!” Distorted Judge Bork’s record. Demagogue. Did he willfully distort Judge Bork’s record, or were these legitimate concerns that he had?
I go to my Grandpa’s basement–one of my more conservative grandparents, that is–and I see the book Teddy Bare. It’s pseudonymous, but its author turns out to be a prince of Romania, who wrote for John Bircher publications. And this book really rips apart Ted Kennedy. It says that he drove a young woman off of a bridge and did not save her. Then, his family uses its influence to get him off. But, according to his own account, he dived into the river several times in an attempt to save her.
Pampered royalty. Yet how pampered? He lost two brothers to assassination. Sad. Chappaquiddik. Selfish. Well-connected. The Kennedys stole the 1960 election. “If your name weren’t Kennedy…” Teddy kept his cool while his opponent said that. Mentally-handicapped sister. In the hospital. Received good health care, and wanted others to receive the same, even if they didn’t have much money.
I’m in my German classroom, and it is the year of the Clarence Thomas hearings. My German teacher is talking with the shop teacher. The shop teacher asks what right Ted Kennedy has to judge Clarence Thomas, considering his own record of womanizing, not to mention Chappaquiddik. The German teacher is moderately liberal, yet she doesn’t contradict the conservative shop teacher. She says that Joseph Kennedy was also a womanizer.
Joseph Kennedy. Imagine my surprise when my seventh grade history teacher told me Joe supported Joe McCarthy. So did Jack and Bobby. Bobby was his counsel. I liked the Kennedys better after I heard that. Libido. William Kennedy Smith. I read somewhere that Teddy raped somebody, but even a conservative substitute teacher told me that accusation was absurd.
I’m at the Boston airport, and I see a guy who looks like Ted Kennedy. He looks in a hurry, but he waves at someone who waves at him. Was that Ted Kennedy? He was big. He had stature. Yet, his hair looked darker than what I thought. And would Ted use an airport? I thought these Kennedys had their own private jets! Maybe I’m wrong. I get to vote in the Massachussetts election. I’m happy that I get to vote against Ted Kennedy! But the Republican is too liberal, so I vote Libertarian. Ted Kennedy gets over 60 per cent of the vote, and the Libertarian trails the Republican only slightly.
Responsive to his constituents. He followed up on their concerns after he did something for them. He stood for the underdog. When Reaganism was popular, Teddy stood by his liberal principles. He played political hardball, yet he could work with the other side. Consider Kennedy-Kassenbaum. No Child Left Behind. John McCain said last Sunday that there’d be a deal right now on health care if Ted Kennedy were actually on the Senate floor. He has the respect of many, even those who disagree with him. Yet, I read on Michael Westmoreland-White’s blog that he walked away from the 1972 health care bill, which Nixon pledged to sign, and which is better than what’s on the table now. Kennedy learned.
His hopes for becoming President were dashed, so he focused on the Senate. He tried to do what he thought was good for the people. When God closes a door, he opens a window. Or when God closes a door, why not pursue a window? Do the task that is in front of us, rather than dreaming about what might have been, or what is beyond our reach. Try to do good where we are, with what we have.
Hiccup. Drunk. Yet, someone on Hardball said that’s maybe why he wasn’t overly judgmental of others. He knew he had weaknesses.
Intervarsity. A person tells the sponsor that he read a piece saying Bill Clinton was immoral because of his Baptist heritage. The sponsor replies, “Well, Catholicism hasn’t helped out Teddy Kennedy, has it?” And this guy was a Democrat.
Ted Kennedy. Part of the problem. He’s been in office for too long. He criticizes the cold arms of the HMOs, yet Rush says Ted supported HMOs when they first came out. A liberal woman tells me that everyone thought HMOs were a good idea back then. No one expected them to be cold and ruthless.
A Republican relative of mine says the morning after the 1988 Republican Convention that Ted Kennedy was a good speaker. Yet, years later, she says we need term limits because Ted Kennedy has been in office for over forty years. He’s usually the person people cite when they argue for term limits!
Legacy. Did his mistakes make him try harder to help people? Can man be saved, Mr. Heep? Do you believe you can redeem yourself? Repentance. The life God gives you is God’s gift to you. What you do with it is your gift to God. Chris Matthews says that many things we take for granted were created (at least in part) by Ted Kennedy. This includes 18 year olds having the right to vote.
I read an article in Life magazine in the 1980’s. The issue is devoted to Robert Kennedy. Ted wrote it. He says Bobby would have disagreed with the Reagan Administration’s policy of “government keep out.” That’s the philosophy I’m leaning toward: government keep out. Taxers. Spenders. Kennedy the tax-and-spend liberal. I watch an American Experience documentary on the Kennedys a few weeks ago (I mean from now). Bobby visited the poor. He wanted to see their experiences, to get their opinions. Teddy tries that years later. Is government part of the solution, or part of the problem? Can it be part of the solution?
I was watching Brit Hume, and he told a story about an experience with Ted Kennedy. Ted Kennedy was nailing Judge Renqhuist because he lived in an exclusive neighborhood, one that excluded minorities. Renqhuist said he didn’t know the neighborhood did that. Kennedy replied, “But, when my family’s in a neighborhood, we make sure to learn the rules and policies.” Later, Brit sees Teddy. Brit says sarcastically, “Yeah, I can imagine the Kennedys sitting around the coffee table going through the policies of the neighborhood.” Ted laughs! He sees politics as a game, though he views it as an opportunity to help others and stop policies that he deems hurtful.
Political genius. Someone on Hardball said if you were on the millionaire show and had to call someone about politics, call Ted Kennedy. Mentor. Humble. Gutsy. Oh, I loved it when he endorsed Barack Obama over Hillary! Follower of principles. Didn’t take himself too seriously. Could laugh.
“Kennedy–one wife at a time.” So said a Saturday Night Live “political ad.” He failed in his first marriage. He had a second chance in his second. His second wife was in her 30s. She looked good! I learned today that she was almost always with Teddy. They must have loved each other. Grandfather. Loved his family. I saw a black-and-white reel of when he was a little guy, struggling to reach the microphone. We all start off as little guys, or little girls–those we like, those we dislike, those we support, those we oppose.
Gregarious. Pat Buchanan said Ted Kennedy was always happy to see even him! Accessible. A nice person. All the Kennedys were nice likeable people, but you wouldn’t want to cross them!
R.I.P., Senator Kennedy.