The Wind And The Lion: Ted Kennedy Mans Up To Mortality

images.thumbnail.jpegThe question has gone unasked out of respect, or murmured only quietly in back rooms: What about Teddy’s health? Nobody wanted to be the one to say it in public. Nobody had to; once again Ted Kennedy is ahead of us. In a posting late Wednesday at the Boston Globe, comes news that Senator Edward M. Kennedy has authored a letter to Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and the Massachusetts Congressional leaders requesting that provisions be made for his successor.

Literally generations of politically active American citizens have been motivated to study and participate in the political process by the men–and women–of the Kennedy family (I am one). Since the tragedies of the 60s however, the Old Lion of the family, and, indeed, the US Senate (and Democratic politics as a whole), has been Edward M. Kennedy. The sturm and drang of the current health care fight? That has been his battle cry for decades. Barack Obama? Likely still a Senator if Ted Kennedy had endorsed Hillary Clinton instead. Name an important piece of social legislation passed in the last four plus decades and his fingerprints are on it.

So the question of "what if" about his health is an unpleasant, emotional and difficult one. But recent events have made the question undeniably germane. Senator Kennedy wasn’t present for the Judiciary Committee consideration of Sonia Sotomayor’s Supreme Court nomination; you knew he wanted to be there, but his absence was understandable. When he also was absent from the Senate floor for the historic confirmation vote for Sotomayor, the first Hispanic American elevated to the Court, you had a feeling he was seriously ill. A week later, when he could not attend the presentation when he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, by Barack Obama, a man he likens to his brother John, you knew it was bad. And then he was absent from the funeral for his sister Eunice. Ted Kennedy always gave the eulogies for Kennedy family members; he always had to, and he was always there. Always. Until now.

From The Globe:

Senator Edward M. Kennedy, in a poignant acknowledgment of his mortality at a critical time in the national health care debate, has privately asked the governor and legislative leaders to change the succession law to guarantee that Massachusetts will not lack a Senate vote when his seat becomes vacant.

In a personal, sometimes wistful letter sent Tuesday to Governor Deval L. Patrick, Senate President Therese Murray, and House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo, Kennedy asks that Patrick be given authority to appoint someone to the seat temporarily before voters choose a new senator in a special election.

Although Kennedy, who is battling brain cancer, does not specifically mention his illness or the health care debate raging in Washington, the implication of his letter is clear: He is trying to make sure that the leading cause in his life, better health coverage for all, advances in the event of his death.

The extraordinary action Senator Kennedy requests is necessary because under a 2004 law passed in Massachusetts to prevent the potential that Mitt Romney would get to name a successor to John Kerry if Kerry had been elected President, voters would select Kennedy’s successor in a special election to be held within five months of the vacancy. But the 2004 law makes no provisions for an interim replacement.

“I am now writing to you about an issue that concerns me deeply, the continuity of representation for Massachusetts, should a vacancy occur,’’ Kennedy wrote.

To ensure that the special election is fair, the senator also urged that the governor obtain an “explicit personal commitment’’ from his appointee not to seek the office on a permanent basis.

Separately, a Kennedy family confidant, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the letter was private, said the senator’s wife, Victoria Reggie Kennedy, is not interested in being a temporary appointee or running in a special election.

And, lastly, there was this:

“For almost 47 years, I have had the privilege of representing the people of Massachusetts in the United States Senate,’’ Kennedy wrote in his letter.

Ted Kennedy is still a lion representing the interests of Massachusetts and the country, and still doing so selflessly and honorably by laying contingency plans for his own succession and drawing the sting from everybody else in addressing the subject head on. When the wind comes for the Lion he wants to insure we are ready. And that there is a vote for healthcare.

83 replies
  1. drfatman says:

    My respect for this giant of a man continues to grow. I for one knows deeply that this country has grown closer to perfecting it’s union and the pursuits of happiness have been made easier because of this single man and his ability to get others to see that we are measured by our ability to do the greatest good for the greatest number.

  2. Loo Hoo. says:

    You got me, bmaz. I don’t tear up often.

    My first Kennedy memory was the long and loud argument between my dad and his mom over the Kennedy/Nixon vote. Ultimately, my dad convinced Grandma to vote for Kennedy.

    Teddy is truly being a hero once again.

  3. BayStateLibrul says:

    Thanks Bmaz.
    Ted is honest, he will leave an outstanding legacy of hope and devotion
    to public service…
    He turned his illness into a teachable moment..
    When they pass the public option, they should call it Kennedy’s Law of
    Helping the Less Fortunate.
    Sad day.

  4. Boston1775 says:

    Strategizing for health care for the American people with your own death.
    Ted, I got lucky just being near you.
    Sailing against the wind, indeed.

  5. phred says:

    Thank you bmaz. This is another example of why Kennedy so richly deserved the Medal of Freedom, he puts the public interest first. What a gracious, thoughtful act. I am proud to have been represented so well for so many years by Teddy.

  6. perris says:

    let’s us now get ahead of the curve

    could someone please give information that will put to rest the inevitable chapaquitic discussion that will ensue?

    is there an answer or is that a legitimate skeleton in our lions closet?

    if there is a legitimate answer to that critisism of kennedy, then a pre-emptive post must be authored so all can link when the discussion arisess

    bmaz, this sounds to me like it’s right up your alley

    • barbara says:

      You are absolutely right. If I can schlog through my tears here for a moment, I want to add a personal anecdote that I think might be relevant. My David was the first to say that he had not led a perfect life. Nothing on the level, personal or media-wise, of Senator Kennedy. But things he wished he’d done differently or not at all or, or, or. And so he set about the work of atonement. Of trying hard, harder, hardest to be the best person he could be. He was at core a good and principled man. Never in my lifetime have I known anyone who worked so hard at bringing that same self to every aspect of his life.

      Why this anecdote? You know, of course. And I am fed up and rising with the vilification of Ted Kennedy. He screwed up royally, and there is no one, repeat, NO ONE, who knows that better than he. None of us can imagine how the ghosts of the past have dogged his path. And it seems to me that he set about being the best man he could be.

      It must have taken no small amount of courage (not hubris) to remain in public service when the stones were being thrown from all directions. He didn’t need the job. But he believed then and believes now that public service is a privilege and something for which he is uniquely qualified. So he suffered the slings and arrows that his own actions generated. He paid his dues in spades. And all along the way, he advocated tirelessly for the poor, the disabled — in short, for America’s most vulnerable, and as if that weren’t enough, he fought for “average Americans” as well.

      It would be disingeuous of me to fail to admit that there was a time when I held no small amount of disdain for Ted Kennedy. Some of it was rooted in my own pathology. Some of it was fueled by media that even in the day could be vicious and often was.

      But we watched him climb out of the rubble of his life and circumstances, and we watched him build a life and a reputation that will live on for decades after he leaves us.

      He has earned respect, to the extent earning respect is actually a doable thing. I wish Ted Kennedy peace now, today, and wherever his journey takes him.

      • RevBev says:

        Barbara, You say all that so well. That is part of my scene for John Jr’s tragedy….I remember thinking about a “redeemed life”, whatever that means. And he has been that for me, as you describe. I always thought the turn around was following the trial in Florida. Thanks for the way you describe all that. At some point he realized he would never be Pres, and set a different course.

        How have you been?

      • mhernandez says:

        I don’t know you or the personal context of your comment, but you connected with me in a powerful way today. To love someone who meets their demons in a terrible way and responds by striving to live a life of atonement and meaning… This is the drama of being human.

        Thanks for your beautiful comment–apropo of Teddy and something that probably resounds for many people on a personal level.

    • Sufilizard2 says:

      Personally, I don’t care a bit about Chapaquitic.

      Whether the allegations about this ancient history are true or not, Mr. Kennedy has proven himself over the many years since.

      I’ve never been one to hold the Kennedy’s up on a pedestal, but Ted Kennedy’s dedication to the cause of health care reform shows he is truly deserving of respect. To me this shows a truly selfless commitment to making our country better, whether he gets to see that promised land himself or not.

      He deserves our respect and gratitude for his life of service.

    • redX says:

      He drank and got someone killed by accident (with some reckless behavior) – I guess thats better than planning to kill or a false war…but all have to live & die with what they have done.

  7. warrenterrah says:

    I heard about this this morning. Right now I think I am just in denial. I just remember when he had the initial diagnosis, Kos said his own dad had died from and that there was no ”cure” for the condition. I am sure Eunice dying hasn’t helped his mental status either. I don’t even think there is anybody in the Senate to replace him.

    • citizensue says:

      How about a rallying cry for the Senate?
      Does/will/would Ted Kennedy support this legislation?

      Perfect! Fitting tribute and stinging rebuke to anyone who wants to water down this bill.

  8. AngelsAwake says:

    It takes a lot for a man to plan for his own death. That’s the bravest thing I think I’ve ever seen anyone do- admit that they will die, yet urge others to carry on.

    It means nothing, Mr. Kennedy, because you don’t know me, but my prayers are with you.

  9. JimWhite says:

    Ted Kennedy is thinking of the people he represents at a time when most would be concentrating only on their own situation. Selfless devotion to public service could well die with him.

  10. SouthernDragon says:

    Literally generations of politically active American citizens have been motivated to study and participate in the political process by the men–and women–of the Kennedy family (I am one).

    I am another. As a teenager I stuffed envelopes for JFKs campaign and stood on the Capitol steps at his inauguration. The end of an era looms and our country is a better place for it, warts and all.

    • RevBev says:

      How true….I will never forget watching him shepard his family during the day’s of John Jr’s death. It makes me quiver to think about another Kennedy memorial.

      Let Obama deliver a health care plan for all…get with it.

    • Crosstimbers says:

      Me too. When he was first diagnosed, I sent an e-mail saying that I still remembered him as my President’s dashing young brother. I got a very nice reply, which sounded personal.

  11. Kathryn in MA says:

    I am so proud of Senator Kennedy. He has served us well despite crushing tragedy. Bless him and keep him always.

  12. foothillsmike says:

    Last week there were rumors about that Obama was going to be visiting him at his family compound soon.

  13. lukasiak says:

    unfortunately, we really need to face that fact that Kennedy’s refusal to let go of his senate seat until the very last minute has done enormous damage to the cause of health care reform. At the crucial moments when vigorous progressive leadership was needed for health care, Kennedy was unable to fulfill the leadership role he had built for himself, leaving an enormous vacuum that could only be filled once Kennedy had stepped aside.
    Most crucial is the way in which Max Baucus was able to set the terms of the discussion of health care reform. Baucus should have been nowhere near healthcare reform — the Senate HELP committee is where the action should have been — or at least the Health Subcommittee of Finance…and Baucus is NOT a member of the Health Subcommittee. What was needed was someone who would challenge Baucus and his “white state” bipartisan negotiating group. Had Kennedy given up his seat, Dodd could have taken that leadership role, but as long as Kennedy insisted upon maintaining his seat (and his chairmanship of the HELP committee) Dodd was stymied.

    • Sufilizard2 says:

      If he had resigned two or three months ago, they still wouldn’t have had a replacement, and I suspect he probably was optimistic that he would at least be able to show up for crucial votes — maybe he was mistaken, but I’m not sure he can be faulted for that.

      • lukasiak says:

        If he had resigned two or three months ago, they still wouldn’t have had a replacement, and I suspect he probably was optimistic that he would at least be able to show up for crucial votes — maybe he was mistaken, but I’m not sure he can be faulted for that.
        first off, this is not about replacing him in Massachusetts, nor is it about his presence for key votes. Its about his chairmanship of the Senate HELP Committee, and the power and influence that accrues to the chairperson of that committee. Its also about his value as the Senate’s leading voice on Health Care reform.
        Kennedy’s refusal to step down from his leadership position left a massive void — no one could claim to speak for progressives, or effectively negotiate on behalf of progressives in the Senate, as long as Teddy was still in his seat. (and not to be ghoulish or anything, but there would have been enormous political advantage in dedicating the health care reform package to “former Senator Ted Kennedy”….)

        • SouthernDragon says:

          I’m sure the next senior Dem would have done just as sterling a job as Senator Kennedy. Gee, we could wind up with somebody like, oh, say, Ben Nelson. He’d be sure to follow a progressive social agenda, now wouldn’t he.

  14. redX says:

    I was happy to meet him at the opening of a Biogen building and shake his hand and thank him for the families service.

    I wish we knew more about why most of the family was taken out.

  15. redX says:

    To the folks that are mad at him – get over it. His aides can get more done with his input and influence than some newbie appointed by Deval.

    I just hope he can take to the floor once more and give a speech on HCR.

  16. VJBinCT says:

    I just took a sip of last night’s wine and poured some on the ground as a libation to the God Teddy believes in and to all the others, just in case. May He grant Ted a good death, and may angels carry him to his rest when the time finally comes.

  17. redX says:

    Except for a razor thin vote of course, which has not happend to this point.

    Actually its a shame that such a thing would happen barring filly-buster give the vast majority.

  18. barbara says:

    RevBev, thanks. Death watch is more difficult for me than usual right now, and I can’t fathom having someone I love deeply trotted across Fox et al in the way we have seen and will continue to see. There is much in that that is remiscent of the Coliseum mentality. (I was very young at the time.)

    Perris, thanks.

    VJBinCT, that is powerful.

    • RevBev says:

      Barbara, You’re a doll and wear your age so well….Take care…sometimes are much harder than others, IMHO…do something gentle.

  19. Leen says:

    o.k. can’t even finish the first two sentences…tears welling lump in my throat..deep sadness…tears now falling. When I watched his daughter accept his Presidential medal of honor her eyes, her face, her demeanor said it all. The situation was not good it was written all over her.

    The Kennedy family as wealthy and fortunate as they are has suffered immeasurably. They have been taught to give back in big ways. Ted Kennedy has been an incredible example of this and we are all so blessed to have had him working for the middle class, working poor and those who are unable or choose not to get it together.

    Last night on Chris Matthews they mentioned once again that Byrd and Kennedy have not been able to make it in to vote (not quite sure why our Reps have to be present to vote, what is with that). Matthews mentioned that who knows if he musters up the energy to make it in for the health care reform vote.

    o.k. I finished your blog (tears falling) Bmaz and you and I are on the same page on this one. The Kennedy’s have inspired and motivated so many of us for so many years and all the signs are there…that the situation is not good.

    But I will still pray for a miracle…what the hell

  20. Leen says:

    Bmaz “When the wind comes for the Lion he wants to insure we are ready. And that there is a vote for healthcare.”

    Go ahead rip our hearts out. Can’t stop the tears

  21. RevBev says:

    From this day forward….Kennedy and DeLay will be pictured on FDL. We can have a quiz show: Guess who is the Fundie? Guess who is the Repub? Who is the bug man?

    That’s all I can stand.

  22. redX says:

    “Our future may lie beyond our vision, but it is not completely beyond our control. It is the shaping impulse of America that neither fate nor nature nor the irresistible tides of history, but the work of our own hands, matched to reason and principle, that will determine our destiny. There is pride in that, even arrogance, but there is also experience and truth. In any event, it is the only way we can live.”

    This is the way he lived. My brother need not be idealized, or enlarged in death beyond what he was in life, to be remembered simply as a good and decent man, who saw wrong and tried to right it, saw suffering and tried to heal it, saw war and tried to stop it.

    Those of us who loved him and who take him to his rest today, pray that what he was to us and what he wished for others will some day come to pass for all the world.

    As he said many times, in many parts of this nation, to those he touched and who sought to touch him:

    “Some men see things as they are and say why.
    I dream things that never were and say why not.”

    Senator Edward M. Kennedy
    St. Patrick’s Cathedral
    New York City
    June 8, 1968

  23. SanderO says:

    Ted Kennedy got a pass on Chappaquiddick. That doesn’t diminish his good work, but it should not be left out of the story. There is more than a reasonable doubt about how he handled himself that night and seemed to not be held accountable for the death of Mary Jo Kopechne.

    It’s alcohol. it makes people do bad things and kill people.

      • SanderO says:

        For now? I am not making a big deal about this. I appreciate the work the Kennedys have done on behalf of the American people. I also know that Joe Kennedy Senior was an SOB.

        The Kennedys lived a life of privilege. Ms Kopechne died because of what Mr Kennedy did. That’s a fact. And I am sure her family has suffered from this event every day since.

        I think Ted Kennedy has been a great senator, but he was a lush. I’ve seen him staggering drunk in Edgardtown once… and that was after Chappaquiddick. That was telling.

        He should have stepped aside or planned a transition of his seat the minute he received a terminal diagnosis. His failure to do so shows a bit of hubris. Doncha think?

      • Leen says:

        I disagree. I think it is perfectly fine to bring up this piece of history and a very very serious mistake ( maybe a crime gone unpunished that any other schmuck that was driving drunk would have paid for with time in prison)

        But he did get off and it was more than likely not fair and it is not o.k or acceptable. But Kennedy has done far more for our country than he would have been able to do in prison. No excuse just reality.

        And now we are at a point in time where we are witnessing a whole administration walking away from the unnecessary deaths and injuries of hundreds of thousands.

        • barbara says:

          Perhaps a good litmus test of what is and is not appropriate is this: Would you speak of Chappaquidick as you eulogize Ted Kennedy at his funeral?

  24. Leen says:

    Many of the Kennedy’s walk the talk that most of us no matter what Religious or spiritual beliefs are often taught. “the do unto others” feel, live compassion, empathy. That there is always someone suffering far more than you are. They allow the tears to fall, feel the sadness and then get up and get going for the less fortunate. This is the example that many of the Kennedy’s have set for all of us.

    So appreciate.

  25. dstatton says:

    Ted is going out in style. No other family in America compares to this one for dedication to public service. When JFK won, I was 13, and the local paper ran a full page photo of him. That picture was on my bedroom wall until the assassination. Later, I volunteered for Bobby’s campaign. Ted has carried the torch well.

  26. cbl2 says:

    Good Morning bmaz and firedogs –

    along with the passion and soul being rightly lionized here, I’m not sure Senator Kennedy has ever been given enough credit for his razor sharp mind – and I’m not talking about his vaunted gamesmanship, his ability to know where the levers of power are or when to pull them

    a few years back he was being interviewed by Bill Moyers about No Child Left Behind – as most of you know, in these pre arranged settings, the Senators are prepped by staffers and provided handy dandy talking points, etc.

    A few minutes in, the subject changed to Iraq and Sen Kennedy was off to the races, ready with facts, connecting the dots, I mean everything – from Human Rights Watch’s latest figures to Oil Tanker chokepoints. Then the subject changed to Healthcare and again, Senator Kennedy held forth with reality based arguments, loaded with facts and figures.

    I tried to find a video of this (no luck) because it was obvious to anyone watching that even Moyers was impressed with the Senator’s ability to make his case on the fly as if he were some younger wonk

    thank you bmaz – there are plenty of tears in this house as well

  27. Blue says:

    Barack Obama? Likely still a Senator if Ted Kennedy had endorsed Hillary Clinton instead.

    What utter nonsense – Hillary beat Obama by nearly 16 points in the MA primary – you think his influence was stronger outside of his own state? His endorsement did zero for Obama. It’s considerably more likely that Carter would have had a second term without Ted Kennedy in the senate.

    However, despite their foibles, the Kennedys are a family who defined service to country for generations and it’s true that there was none better than Ted on the senate floor when he was on a roll.

    • SnowCamp says:

      Yes – I do think Kennedy’s endorsement gave Obama heightened credibilty with progressives outside of Massachusetts. I think that was part of the picture in Obama’s overall victory on Super Tuesday and the subsequent caucuses and primaries that solidified his narrow but ultimately insurmountable delegate lead.

      I also think Kennedy’s ‘80 campaign was a fool’s errand in retrospect, but even if Carter had survived in the general election that year, Reagan or somebody even worse would have won in ‘84.

  28. perris says:

    I am having a fanstasy right now, that kennedy has a true to his soul conversation with obama…and a new lion would take his lead.


    I just listened to the youtube posted, tears

  29. constantweader says:

    That Kennedy has “faced up to his mortality,” as Marcy puts it, suggests he might have received some end-of-life counseling to help him plan for the future of his Senate seat. A good enough reason for Republicans to be afraid of end-of-life counseling.

    The Constant Weader at

  30. SnowCamp says:

    Sen. Kennedy must retire, immediately.

    All of the tributes posted here and elsewhere are appropriate. I say what I say with heartfelt sadness. It is wrong however, to go back and try to undo the progressive step Massachusetts has taken toward the direct election of senators. We would not approve of a Republican doing this.

    Strom Thurmond stayed far too long. Byrd is also staying too long. Sen. Kennedy was certainly entitled to fight to be able to regain his ability to do his job. Sadly, it appears that that may not happen, and that he has himself come to that realization. If so, I believe it is his duty to his constituents and the nation to step aside.

    • bmaz says:

      Kennedy has not asked to undo the 2004 law, that you refer to as the “direct election” law; he has asked for the ability to have a temporary appointee able to vote Massachusetts interests in the interim while the provisions of the 2004 law are effected. If he stepped aside today, you are saying Massachusetts and the country should be denied a crucial vote on healthcare? It is adding a crucial provision to, not “undoing” the law.

      • SnowCamp says:

        I am saying that I feel all senators should be elected, not appointed, as representatives are. The sooner Sen Kennedy retires, the sooner Massachusetts will have full representation, which it doesn’t really have at this point.

        • bmaz says:

          I understand; heck I may even agree with you. I think Kennedy is concerned about the healthcare vote though. If he knew there would be someone able to fill the interim (a person he suggest would be ineligible for the coming replacement election) so that there would be the vote there for healthcare, he would be much more likely to go ahead and resign. I actually think your point and his intersect a lot more than you might think. And I kind of agree with both. I also very much agree with what you stated @67; Kennedy gave a lot of party insiders the cover they needed to move from Clinton to Obama. It may ot may not have affected primary voters, and I believe it did to at least some extent, but that coupled with the party insider shift was a quantum shift and changed the game for Obama in my opinion.

          • SnowCamp says:

            I think I also understand where you’re coming from. What a bitter irony if meaningful health reform is filibustered because Sen Kennedy is unable to vote. Sadly, Byrd may not answer that bell either. There are a few other very elderly Democratic senators, too.

            I’m just squeamish about changing the rules to benefit a particular issue or party, at a particular point in time. Remember Giuliani trying to get term limits in NYC abolished because he was so effing heroic and indispensible and all that after 9/11? It cuts both ways. I’m inclined to think MA got it right in ‘04, even if that reform itself was passed because of partisan fears that “Mittens” would appoint a Republican to replace Kerry. It seems like Gubernatorial appointments are more often than not a mess, and historically those appointed tend to fail to win election, at least in modern times.

            In a way, it kinda sucks even having this conversation. Your post is very good and very touching. All the best to you…..

            • bmaz says:

              Thanks, and I fully understand your thoughts. I agree about the questionable nature of having Senators appointed (even though that was the practice for quite some time after the founding; it was one that needed to end). I guess, in the end, I am okay with it under the conditions Kennedy described. To be no longer than the 5 month maximum, with the understanding that the election need not wait the full five months but should be scheduled as soon as logistically practicable, and that the person appointed be ineligible for the election itself. I might also contemplate a proviso that the selection by the governor be made from the party of the expired Senator irrespective of what party the Governor is from.

              • lllphd says:

                bmaz, i also like your addition that the appointee should be from the elected party. absolutely; will of the people.

            • lllphd says:

              ah, snowcamp, i see your tone is softer than i’d assumed for my previous post; apologies if i was harsh.

              i agree that bending the rules to benefit certain individuals is a bad precedence to set (as if there aren’t enough of those already), but you miss the compelling point of kennedy’s request: he expressly addresses these concerns by keeping the appointee out of future running and not his wife. this is the sign of a true statesman! he wishes to guarantee that his constituency is represented without danger of cronyism doing its damage. the legislation actually should be rewritten precisely as kennedy suggests anyway! his considerations make all the difference. and frankly, after watching what happened in IL and MN after our last election, i’m inclined to believe these considerations should be legislated everywhere. for my own part, i’m not interested in having to make a decision about electing a senator in as short a time as a matter of weeks, but neither am i interested in being without representation for that long a time. an interim appointment seems necessary in such circumstances.

              you’re right, such legislation cuts both ways, but kennedy sees how to correct the problems that could potentially give privilege, which is what i think you object to. he also objects to them, but also to his constituents being without representation (think MN without al franken all those months).

              kennedy knows the difference between benefitting an individual and benefitting the citizens he represents. that is what has made him such the quintessential and seminal statesman. we can only pray we see another like him in our lifetime.

              and god, yeah, it more than sucks having this conversation; it kills. really. kills.

  31. lllphd says:

    bmaz, thank you so very very much for this touching homage to ted. he is my senator, and i have been daily grateful for his representation of me, as a citizen of MA. the reverence you properly express to him here has brought me to tears; he will be gone soon (harbor no doubt; the end is fairly near for him, and you read all the cues rightly), and those of us who truly care about this nation and her people will feel a tectonic shift.

    as for the picking over nits about the laws and how such moments are handled, i can honestly and passionately say this: as a citizen of MA, i adamantly do NOT want senator kennedy to resign! i wish deeply for him to continue in the role he dedicated his life to until his dying breath. it is only fitting.

    any resignation now would not buy the citizens enough time to pull an election together for representation in any health care vote. kennedy knows this, which is precisely why he is making this appeal. i even shudder to think what a rushed election would look like, and what sort of scary results we might face! it’s unthinkable. no, ted’s very careful and selfless crafting of the terms of his request are expressly designed to protect the citizenry from both lack of representation for this historic upcoming vote, and hasty and potentially dangerous representation from a rushed election.

    the votes kennedy has missed of late were not close, and his absence or presence did not make or break. au contraire for this healthcare legislation, which is the driving force of his request. consider the wisdom of the maestro you’re up against here, snowcamp; you’re way out of kennedy’s league. we all are. ours is but to listen for the wisdom and grasp the higher principles behind it. i daresay he would agree heartily with you, in principle, that each senator should be elected. but all principles – like rules – face exceptions, and this one is highly exceptional and gravely important.

    i hope and pray that the MA legislature works rapidly in expediting ted’s request (i suspect they will; he is so honored and esteemed here), and that his dream – now snatched from his hands by the truly craven and evil republicans and their insurance/pharma cronies – will be granted, a dream for all of us (or, at least a giant step toward that progressive vision), if not before he is gone, then in his honor soon after.

    (a parenthetical ps; i would guess the best choice duval would make here would be dukakis)

  32. SparklestheIguana says:

    It is a terrible irony that just at the moment in history when Ted Kennedy’s voice, passion, intelligence, fervor, and commitment are most needed, he got this awful cancer.

    Ted Kennedy killed a woman through his carelessness and negligence. He allowed a woman to die because he was selfish. I actually think that was a truly evil act. Do I forgive him for this? It’s not my place to forgive. Only God and Mary Jo Kopechne in heaven, and her family here on earth, can forgive.

    At the same time, I have enormous respect for his legislative career and the dedication he has brought to so many critically important issues. It helps me to imagine these years as an atonement for his earlier evil.

    I will be very sad when he dies. I wish he could live another two decades.

    • SparklestheIguana says:

      It must be killing Hillary to watch from the sidelines as Obama, Sebelius et al float their sad “public option is not that critical” trial balloons.

  33. ThurmanHart says:

    You know, Ted Kennedy could just resign and quit depriving Massachusetts – and Democrats – of a vote right now. He’s sick and dying. But he won’t let go of his power. No, let’s change the law instead.

    Sorry, I’m not a fan of celebrity. Ted Kennedy has done a lot in his very long career. But neither he, nor the rest of his family, is worth our adoration. He’s just a man.

    • bmaz says:

      So you are in favor of denying the State of Massachusetts full Senate representation on the crucial healthcare vote. How charming and democratic of you.

    • 300SDL says:

      How sad for you that you are so poisoned by cynicism that you think this is some self serving ploy. Maybe you should look at the many worthwhile things he and his family accomplished instead of being an intractible cynic. Good thing Ted Kennedy did not adopt your ideology. He never would have run for anything.

  34. argo0 says:

    What’s stopping Kennedy from resigning today, effective upon the conclusion of the special election (or his death), so the election can be scheduled now? And what stopped him from doing this earlier? Does the law prohibit him from doing this (I think it’s here —

    I hate to say this, because I have a lot of respect for him, but IF it’s legal for Kennedy to do/have done this, he’s being fairly selfish in holding onto his senate seat and asking that the state dance around his wishes in keeping it until the last minute (especially when he’s been too ill to really represent the state for a few months now).

  35. VJBinCT says:

    Thanks, Barbara (@32), for the compliment. What I should have said was ‘a band of angels’, an Irish band of angels with fiddles, bodhrans, whistles and spoons; with kegs of booze and waterdogs galloping all around. I want Teddy to go out with STYLE!

  36. 300SDL says:

    “Few men are willing to brave the disapproval of their fellows, the censure of their colleagues, the wrath of their society. Moral courage is a rarer commodity than bravery in battle or great intelligence. Yet, it is the one essential, vital quality of those who seek to change a world that yields most painfully to change.”

    Robert F. Kennedy, 1966

    His brother said it and I think it applies equally for all the Kennedys to whom much was given, gave much in return. In the sordid and selfish mess that we call a political system today their other centered service and leadership stood out as a beacon of light guiding us to a higher calling–the calling that public service through politics was indeed the highest and best form of service to your fellow man.

    While I fear I shall never see their like again—let us also remember that “the hope still lives—and the dream shall never die.”

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