Senator Ted Kennedy passed away just in the last few hours and he took some history with him. His career was so long that I think sometimes people forget the first part of it. Ted Kennedy lived through his brother John's election to the presidency as the first Catholic and then his heartbreaking assassination. He lived through Martin Luther King's push for civil rights for blacks and then his heartbreaking assassination. He lived through his brother Bobby's promising campaign for the presidency and then his heartbreaking assassination. Ted Kennedy was mired in misery. He lost two brothers within five years of one another to violent deaths. He was left as the only one of his generation to carry on the Kennedy legacy in politics and was left as the patriarch of the family after the death of his father, Joseph.
Whether one agreed with Kennedy's politics or not, it is undeniable that he left his mark on American politics, that he advanced many causes that he was concerned about and that he earned his title as the "Liberal Lion of the Senate." When the liberals in the Senate needed leadership, they always looked to Kennedy and Kennedy never failed them. Also, when his nieces and nephews looked to him in the absence of their slain fathers Ted never failed them either. He attended the special events that all children experience as they grow up. "Uncle Teddy" was a surrogate father that soothed the deep emotional wounds left on his nieces and nephews by their fathers' untimely passings. It was not right that JFK and RFK died so young, but for their children, Ted's constant presence in their life made it okay... made it possible to move on from such tremendous pain.
Tonight, one of American politics' great actors has exited the stage and the audience mourns his disappearance with varying levels of regret. There is one thing that this Catholic Democrat knows: rosaries are being said for Teddy in Boston and all over the country tonight for the last true leader of the first American Catholic political dynasty. Godspeed, Teddy.
Just so we're clear, this article is to remember Ted Kennedy in a positive way and not to criticize his failings. Call him a drunk or mention Chappaquiddick and you're on the sideline.