The Senator certainly has his share of devoted fans and admirers and the emotions stirred and thoughts conjured up in their minds are all positive. But their exist many others who do not have such positive sentiments.
I am among those of the former opinion. And so at a time like this, I really do not know what to say. The death of any person, with the exception of the most truly evil and dangerous among us in the world, is not a source of any good emotions and the death of Ted Kennedy is quite sad. I do hope that he rest peacefully and I offer my deepest condolences to the members of the Kennedy family, one of America’s most iconic families in American history.
They are a family which has suffered an inordinate and unjust amount of pain and loss and after losing the their patriarch they deserve our prayers.
None of this however allows me to make Senator Ted Kennedy something that he wasn’t. Although he had a longevity in politics that his two famed brothers were denied, Ted Kennedy did not leave behind a legacy as great as either of his of them.
Chappaquiddick will always be a part of his legacy, a dark spot on his legacy, a very sad and dark spot which documented Ted Kennedy’s lack of integrity and his sense of being above the law.
And while some fondly refer to him as the Liberal Lion, others realize that with that name came a quality that many Americans do not view positively……partisanship. Ted Kennedy was one of the most partisan politicians that the Senate had to offer and some have had to question if his first loyalty was to his country or was it to his party.
In many ways many of the qualities which made Ted Kennedy such a respected man by some are also the same reasons that some did not respect him for. There are those who hung on his every word because he was a Kennedy while others saw him as only having his position because he was a Kennedy.
Some are impressed by his 47 years in the United States Senate while many others were turned off by his being a career politician who spent the vast majority of his life in the Senate. The great liberal legacy that he represents is admired by some whereas others found his championing of only liberal policies as a sign of blind partisanship.
Just days ago, I posted my own harsh words for Senator Kennedy. After trying to get the Massachusetts state legislature to change the law which would have his replacement in the Senate chosen by the Governor instead of being chosen in a special election, I was incensed at the nerve the Senator had. He wanted to undo the very law he helped change when the Governor who would have had the opportunity to fill any vacancies was a Republican. The fact that Senator Kennedy wanted to usurp democracy in Massachusetts for partisan interests was an example of political insincerity and hypocrisy.
Ted Kennedy’s sad passing does not change these things. It does not erase any of his shortcomings or y anshenanigans he took part in.
Yet I am sure that in death the senator will be canonized and turned into a greater figure than he actually was. There will be bridges, highways, schools, state office buildings, parks, airports and post offices all named after him. I am certain that healthcare reform which had its name changed to health insurance reform will now take on another new name and be called the Ted Kennedy Health Security Act.
All of this is likely to occur as a result of all that the senator influenced and did but none of it will cover all of the scars left behind. While structures and legislation will be named after Ted Kennedy there will be no buildings or parks named after Mary Jo Kopechy.
I will respect Ted Kennedy for the sacrifices that he made for what he believed in. No matter who you are, you do indeed make sacrifices as a public servant. But I will not go with the much anticipated flow, no, make that the flood of praise for Ted Kennedy that we will see and make him in death, something that he was not in life.