Wednesday, 26 August 2009

RIP, Teddy Kennedy (1932-2009)

I woke up this morning to the news of Senator Edward Kennedy's passing of brain cancer late Tuesday night at his home in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts.  This is incredibly sad news.  One of the great champions of American liberalism has passed away.  Having served in the Senate since 1962, Ted Kennedy will be remembered as one of America's greatest legislators (and the third longest-serving senator of all time).  As the youngest sibling of President John F. Kennedy and Senator Robert F. Kennedy (both of whom were assassinated, the former during his presidency in 1963 and the latter during his campaign for the Democratic Party nomination in 1968), Edward Kennedy's life in public service seemed inevitable.  

Although he didn't realize his White House ambitions like his brother, Jack (his only presidential bid would be in the 1980 election, when he failed to secure his party's nomination, losing to the incumbent, President Jimmy Carter), for whatever reason (historians cite the 'Chappaquiddick incident' of 1969 as the dark cloud which loomed over his presidential bid), Edward Kennedy achieved a great deal as a senator and was instrumental in many of the key pieces of legislation that would change the course of American history, including the monumental Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Federal Election Campaign Act Amendments of 1974 (campaign finance reform), the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act of 1986, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, the Ryan White AIDS Care Act in 1990 (which assisted people with HIV and AIDS who lacked health insurance) and the No Child Left Behind Act in 2002 (working closely with President George W. Bush, which was exemplary of the late Senator's brilliant gift of making allies across partisan lines to achieve significant social change...Ted Kennedy's cooperation with President Bush would end soon after due to his opposition to the Iraq War from the very beginning, with Kennedy later calling his 2002 vote against the War 'the best vote' he ever cast in the Senate).  

He is often accredited with being the pioneer of health care reform and his long work to bring universal health care to America is now being given the push that it deserves by President Barack Obama, who was given Ted Kennedy's endorsement early in the primary season of 2008.  

Senator Edward Kennedy's passing comes fifteen months after he was diagnosed with malignant glioma.  His sister, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, passed away just a little over two weeks before the Senator's own passing.  Having spent the early part of his career in public office living up to the legacy of his brothers, Senator Edward Kennedy spent the rest of his career in the Senate working to achieve many of the advantages that many Americans take for granted today and thus, left behind his own magnificent legacy.

Watch a short clip of Senator Edward Kennedy's iconic speech at the 1980 Democratic Party Convention.

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