A Lion's Last Roar

I am going to start a comment barrage directed toward me with this post but I hope there are a few of you who can appreciate where I am coming from with my analysis.

Last night we saw a little history when Ted Kennedy slowly mounted the stage and gave perhaps the last big address of his life. I must confess to experiencing some powerful emotions watching as the 76 year old liberal lion struggled to keep his place on the teleprompter, the victim of age and his continuing recovery from a diagnosis of brain cancer.

Having watched politics for as long as I have as well as having an abiding interest in American history, you could not help thinking of the end of an era watching the old man - speaking haltingly but with a firm voice about Obama and this historic campaign. This is a guy who has been there through it all - all the titanic battles of the last 40 years over civil rights, war and peace, America's role in the world.

Invariably, he and I have come down on opposite sides of most issues. But as a spokesman and symbol of liberalism, there have been few in our history to match him. His grasp of arcane senate rules and procedures is so complete that it has allowed him to manuever historic legislation regarding workers' rights, health and safety issues, and of course, the welfare state that he did so much to create and which now threatens our future, through the senate. In short, he is the most prolific legislator of the last 50 years and only Lyndon Johnson in the Senate and Joe Cannon in the House have rivaled his influence in the 20th century.

We can all criticize and despise him for all the familiar reasons - the death of Mary Jo Kopechne crossed my mind more than once last night wondering what must her family be thinking of this tribute. And the Kennedy family itself with their naked ambition and belief that they are a law unto themselves always have made me angry that the American people somehow see them as roayalty - a very unrepeublican attitude to have toward politicians. 

But this is a man who believed as strongly that what he was doing was right as anyone on the right believing the same thing. And while he was not blessed with the political gifts of his brother John or the hard headed realism of his brother Bobby, he always seemed to me to have had a set of principles and lived by them. That's all you can ask of a politician - even if he is on the opposite side.

So it was with some emotion that I watched this last roar of a liberal lion. No doubt part of it was that seeing him up there reminded me of my youth and my own journey from the left to the right - a path followed by many of my generation who turned away from people like Kenedy when we realized where their policies were leading us.  

Ted Kenney is history - he has seen it, lived it, and made it. And for that, I felt regret that we would probably never see him again having such a big moment. I can honor in opposition what he stood for as a politician while not forgiving him for his personal shortcomings nor what his ideas have done to damage our country.
  
 
I am going to start a comment barrage directed toward me with this post but I hope there are a few of you who can appreciate where I am coming from with my analysis.

Last night we saw a little history when Ted Kennedy slowly mounted the stage and gave perhaps the last big address of his life. I must confess to experiencing some powerful emotions watching as the 76 year old liberal lion struggled to keep his place on the teleprompter, the victim of age and his continuing recovery from a diagnosis of brain cancer.

Having watched politics for as long as I have as well as having an abiding interest in American history, you could not help thinking of the end of an era watching the old man - speaking haltingly but with a firm voice about Obama and this historic campaign. This is a guy who has been there through it all - all the titanic battles of the last 40 years over civil rights, war and peace, America's role in the world.

Invariably, he and I have come down on opposite sides of most issues. But as a spokesman and symbol of liberalism, there have been few in our history to match him. His grasp of arcane senate rules and procedures is so complete that it has allowed him to manuever historic legislation regarding workers' rights, health and safety issues, and of course, the welfare state that he did so much to create and which now threatens our future, through the senate. In short, he is the most prolific legislator of the last 50 years and only Lyndon Johnson in the Senate and Joe Cannon in the House have rivaled his influence in the 20th century.

We can all criticize and despise him for all the familiar reasons - the death of Mary Jo Kopechne crossed my mind more than once last night wondering what must her family be thinking of this tribute. And the Kennedy family itself with their naked ambition and belief that they are a law unto themselves always have made me angry that the American people somehow see them as roayalty - a very unrepeublican attitude to have toward politicians. 

But this is a man who believed as strongly that what he was doing was right as anyone on the right believing the same thing. And while he was not blessed with the political gifts of his brother John or the hard headed realism of his brother Bobby, he always seemed to me to have had a set of principles and lived by them. That's all you can ask of a politician - even if he is on the opposite side.

So it was with some emotion that I watched this last roar of a liberal lion. No doubt part of it was that seeing him up there reminded me of my youth and my own journey from the left to the right - a path followed by many of my generation who turned away from people like Kenedy when we realized where their policies were leading us.  

Ted Kenney is history - he has seen it, lived it, and made it. And for that, I felt regret that we would probably never see him again having such a big moment. I can honor in opposition what he stood for as a politician while not forgiving him for his personal shortcomings nor what his ideas have done to damage our country.