IS TED KENNEDY THE LAST LION?

I met Senator Kennedy briefly in 1971 at a conference in Washington (also attended by Mother Teresa).  At the time I was director of a foundation in Toronto which worked with the Kennedys to promote the Special Olympics, especially floor hockey.

When word of the Senator’s malignant brain tumour broke yesterday, I, along with millions of other people,  were both shocked and saddened.   His friend and fellow senator, John McCain called Kennedy “the last lion of the Senate.”

It is not, I think, an exaggeration.   Ted Kennedy entered the Senate in 1962 and he has been in the midst of virtually every great debate in American politics for more than 40 years.  He voted against the Iraq war, he fought to raise the minimum wage, for national health insurance (he praised Canada’s health system), for Aids funding, for the disabled,  to regularize  illegal immigrants and to fund alternative sources of energy.

Senator Kennedy ran for the Democratic nomination against Jimmy Carter in 1980 but he was derailed by the implications of the accident at Chappaquiddick – a car over a bridge, a young woman drowned and the senior senator from Massachusetts who waited far too long to tell the police.

In conceding defeat to Carter the Senator said to the Democratic convention: “For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives and the dream shall never die.”

Now the work goes on but likely without  a Kennedy,  two brothers assassinated and the third mortally wounded.

Do you agree that Ted Kennedy was a great Senator, perhaps the greatest in modern times?

9 Comments »

  1. 1
    jim Says:

    Kennedy is the Lion of the Senate not the last lion.

  2. 2
    Paul Costopoulos Says:

    The Kennedy mystique has always baffled me. True they are the embodiment of all that is good and bad in the USA and a potent symbol of the American Dream. The dramas they went through two sons assassinated, one dead war hero, their daughters splendid marriages, Rose’s courage and devotion to her handicapped daughter, all has erased their other lapses.
    Is Ted the last lion in the senate? The last Kennedy lion, yes. In the senate there seems to be a cub in waiting. A little Simba named Obama.

  3. 3

    Paul:

    Right on. There is an article in the Globe this morning pointing out that Kennedy can now rest assured because he has anointed his heir – whose name is Obama.

  4. 4
    Paul Costopoulos Says:

    Well if the Globe agrees with me, I’m honored. When I posted this morning I had not yet seen the papers.

  5. 5
    Tony Kondaks Says:

    [I tried posting this yesterday but I included links which stopped the process…anyway, here it is without the links…and please don’t try and lynch me!]

    For his role in Chappaquiddick, Ted Kennedy, at the very most, should have been tried for murder, and, at the very least, vehicular manslaughter.

    That he spent the rest of his life in the U.S. Senate trying to make up for his gross indifference to human life does not make any sort of impression on me, despite Neil’s listing of his alleged accomplishments… especially when you consider that all those accomplishments required the spending other people’s money (the taxpayers’ ).

    Yes, I suppose I am callous and cold-hearted to kick poor little Teddy while he is down. But I see nothing great at all in this man who, when he ran for president in ’80, by the way, refused to shake Jimmy Carter’s hand on the podium when Carter came up to accept his party’s nomination. The division Kennedy created by this act was, according to Carter, one of the reasons why he wasn’t reelected. Carter recently invoked this story as an example of what Clinton/Obama should NOT do vis a vis their current rivalry for the Democrat nomination.

    I am, however, heartened and amused by the display by Robert Byrd in the Senate yesterday over the news of Kennedy’s illness (go to youtube and search “byrd kennedy”)

    The old Klansman weeps for the old socialist.

  6. 6
    Paul Costopoulos Says:

    The USAers have always forgiven everything to the Kennedys. As for Senator Byrd it just shows that in a crunch all politicians are one big family and that KKK members could have emotions too. I wonder though wether he would have wept had it been Obama Instead of Ted?

  7. 7
    Joe Agnost Says:

    It’s funny – I always thought it would be the booze that killed him.

    And I’m with Tony on this – about all I remember about Teddy was that he was a drunk and an accomplice to murder. Nice legacy!

  8. 8

    Joe:

    I think we should note that Senator Kennedy was never convicted of a crime. He was never even charged.

  9. 9
    Joe Agnost Says:

    “I think we should note that Senator Kennedy was never convicted of a crime. He was never even charged.”

    And that makes it worse in my mind!! Talk about the gift of a last name!

    There are VERY few people that could, so cleanly, get away with what he did… the fact that he was a kennedy meant impunity. It’s disgusting favoritism – plain and simple.


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