Category: Archive


February 17, 2011

By Staff Reporter

And with that time he bestowed many gifts on those who were lucky enough to have known him, and the countless Americans who benefited down the years from his legislative work in the United States Senate.
Irish America, no matter what its political hue, is mourning his passing this week because, in Kennedy, the nation witnessed the work of a politician who exemplified more than a few of the traditional virtues associated with a political life.
Much has been said of Kennedy’s willingness and ability to cut across party lines and reach across the aisle. And a good deal of it has been said by Republicans who would have disagreed with Kennedy on most issues.
Kennedy, however, and those from the GOP who became his friends, and oft partners in legislation, were from a generation who realized that the arguments on Capitol Hill really centered on the means to attaining an end that was, in most instances, a mutually held view that the betterment of America and its people was the prime reason why elected politicians mustered on Capitol Hill in the first place.
There were clashes over policy and philosophy for sure, but more recent divisions seemingly caused by rapidly diverging ideologies were at odds with the way that senators such as Kennedy, Orrin Hatch and Alan Simpson went about their business.
Many are looking to Massachusetts for another Kennedy to pick up the fallen standard and continue to battle for Ted Kennedy’s vision for America.
But there are others in Congress, from both parties, who have been pursuing this, or a similar vision, for years. Now is their moment too.
Above and beyond his political career, Edward Kennedy offers us an example of a life overflowing with more than the usual ration of triumph and tragedy, happiness, sadness and personal failures.
He was far from being perfect, as most of us are, but his imperfections and failings were played out on a stage the dimensions of which most can only imagine.
Chappaquiddick was a tragedy and a collapse in judgment that could never be erased and there were other questions about the senator’s personal behavior that would surface through the years.
Ted Kennedy addressed these issues and, quite clearly, enough of the voters of Massachusetts accepted his mea culpas to return him to Washington time and again.
Kennedy and his first wife, Joan, went through the traumas of divorce as did their three children who, in turn, also bore their own very personal trials.
But in Vicki Reggie, Kennedy found redemption and new purpose. Some of Kennedy’s best years in the Senate followed his marriage to a woman who many now see as a possible successor.
When it came to matters Irish, not least Northern Ireland, Ted Kennedy was a champion and go-to guy who had the name and influence to persuade and even alarm governments.
His interventions and initiatives with regard to the Troubles were often crucial, and it is generally accepted that Kennedy was a pivotal figure behind President Clinton’s decision to allow Gerry Adams into the United States.
On immigration, Kennedy was in a league of his own and his passing is a serious loss to those who have been campaigning for comprehensive immigration reform.
Above all, Ted Kennedy, Teddy, was the last brother, his family’s patriarch, the man to whom history assigned the task of closing an era in the life of our nation that was opened by his own siblings and forebears.
And what a time it was. Ar dheis D

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