Friday, August 28, 2009

Edward M. Kennedy, 1932-2009, Hero

In a time where politics is fraught with name-calling, paranoia and insult, Senator Kennedy was a man of graciousness and a passionate advocate for the causes and people he believed in. His accomplishments were legion:

  • The Voting Rights Act of 1965.

  • The Freedom of Information Act.

  • The Occupational Safety and Health Act.

  • The Americans with Disabilities Act.

  • The Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act of 2009.

  • Fought a four-decade crusade for universal health coverage.

  • Helped Soviet dissidents.

  • Fought apartheid.

  • Was one of 23 senators to vote against the Iraq war.

  • Vastly expanded the network of neighborhood clinics.

  • Virtually invented the COBRA system for portable insurance.

  • Helped create the law that provide Medicare prescriptions.

  • Helped create the Family Leave law.

What kind of man was he? Admittedly, neither a man without faults nor a self-righteous man who called names. In the words of Vice President Joe Biden, who worked in the Senate with him for 46 years, Senator Kennedy “never was petty; never was small. It was never about him, it was always about you.” He reached out to others, had a heart for others. When Mr. Biden’s first wife was killed in a terrible auto accident that injured their two children, Senator Kennedy was on the phone with him immediately, offering support.

What did Rush Limbaugh say about him? No surprise. If Kennedy was the Lion of the Senate, "We were his prey." No surprise there. I have two questions for Mr. Limbaugh: Does this mean that you oppose all of those things that Kennedy fought for that have benefited so many of your fellow citizens? Or do you simply not care?

“Today we have lost a great spirit,” Vice President Biden said. And so we have.

In a recent post, political cartoonist and blogger David Horsey wrote the following: “Teddy Kennedy is gone and we may not see his like again. But a greater tragedy for the nation would be if the politics of mutual respect, wise compromise and willingness to find common ground died with him.” So it would, David, so it would.

“If by a liberal,”, Senator Kennedy wrote, “they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind; someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions; someone who cares about the welfare of the people, their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights, their civil liberties; someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicion that grips us; if that is what they mean by a liberal, I am proud to be a liberal.” —Edward M. Kennedy

And so am I.

All for this post,