R.I.P. Senator Kennedy

August 26, 2009

What a horribly sad day for me and for America.  Today, we lost one of our great Americans:  Senator Ted Kennedy.

I knew his health situation had to be very bad when he missed his sister Eunice’s funeral quite recently.  I had no idea his death was so imminent. I gasped out loud when I heard the news about Ted Kennedy’s passing this morning. Stunning news for me.

I’m a huge fan of Ted Kennedy. While some will remember him for a few flaws, I will remember him for the giant he was in the Senate and for America over the course of nearly 50 years of public service. 

America would be benefiting right now from his calm, cool, collaborative style to negotiate the health care reform under discussion right now.

It has been said that there isn’t a single piece of major legislation passed in the last 40 years that doesn’t have his finger prints all over it.  That’s impact.  He knew how to reach across the aisle to get things done, something today’s politicians seem to have never learned.

I lived in Massachusetts for 3 years and had the pleasure of voting to send him back to the US Senate.  He won with 75-85% of the vote as I remember it.  The GOP wouldn’t even run a viable candidate against him.

Here’s a story about Ted Kennedy you probably won’t hear about during all the tributes:

While I lived in Massachusetts, there was a nursing strike that went on for a number of weeks. Nurses and families were very concerned about the lack of continuity of care for the terminally-ill patients. When the situation appeared to be at its greatest point of impasse, Senator Kennedy intervened to bring the parties together to resolve the issue in just a few days. Why did a U.S. Senator intervene? Because people were hurting and he thought he could help. While I remember great adulation at the issue being resolved, I don’t remember Ted Kennedy going before the media to get his much-deserved praise.

Shortly before Ted Kennedy’s death, he wrote the following words for Newsweek in a piece called “The Cause of My Life:”

This is the cause of my life. It is a key reason that I defied my illness last summer to speak at the Democratic convention in Denver–to support Barack Obama, but also to make sure, as I said, “that we will break the old gridlock and guarantee that every American…will have decent, quality health care as a fundamental right and not just a privilege.” For four decades I have carried this cause–from the floor of the United States Senate to every part of this country. It has never been merely a question of policy; it goes to the heart of my belief in a just society. Now the issue has more meaning for me–and more urgency–than ever before. But it’s always been deeply personal, because the importance of health care has been a recurrent lesson throughout most of my 77 years.

I’d rather celebrate Senator Kennedy’s life than mourn his passing. Thank you, Senator Kennedy, for your contribution to America. May you rest in peace knowing the profound contribution you’ve made.

Democrat Dave