I come from a family that greatly admires the Kennedys. I've met Robert and Ethel Kennedy, and in 1980, the first presidential campaign speech I ever heard live and in person was delivered by Ted Kennedy. His campaign faltered--as, ultimately, did Carter's. But the speech I attended was fiery, rousing, and inspirational.
Still, Ted Kennedy was probably meant to stay in the Senate, where he could do his best work. And that he did, championing progressive causes for a lifetime. His presence will be greatly missed. I was thrilled to see him endorse and campaign for Barack Obama, and the idea that he was passing on to Obama the Kennedy torch of standing up for minorities and working people was a powerful one--one I have to hope Obama doesn't soon forget.
It's a tragic irony that the working class people who are disrupting town halls these days never had a greater friend in government than Kennedy, and yet they're agitating against the very cause Ted Kennedy spent his life working for. They're doing it, although they might not realize it, to benefit a handful of huge insurance companies, and no one else. One hopes that if his passing does nothing else, it will open their eyes, and will spur Kennedy's colleagues in the Senate to pass a bill of which their Lion would have been proud.
11:35--Edited slightly as I was reminded that Kennedy's brain cancer was not diagnosed until just after he endorsed Obama--his surprise appearance at the Democratic Convention was a stirring sight.