August 26, 2009
I’m not looking for a fight or an argument. I know that Ted Kennedy was a flawed human being, that his flaws cost a young woman her life, that he hurt his children and his first wife and others with his drinking. I don’t presume to make excuses for him. He had to live with his flaws and following the tenets of his faith, he believed that he would have to answer for them before he would find rest.
I also know that he made this country a better place. The countless pieces of legislation he authored improved people’s lives. They brought justice and freedoms to those who were desperate to throw off the burdens of prejudice and poverty; they shone the light of education into places darkened for too long by ignorance and neglect; and they offered comfort and healing to those who couldn’t have afforded a doctor’s care or a pharmacist’s cure without the government’s help. He was the very embodiment of public service. When Republicans turned the word “Liberal” into a epithet and Democrats ran from the label, fearing for their political lives, Teddy Kennedy proudly embraced it. He remained committed to his ideals throughout his career. He was a patriot in the truest sense of the word, devoting his life to his country, criticizing her leaders when they deserved to be criticized, and fighting always to protect the weakest and poorest and most vulnerable among us.
I slept better at night knowing that Teddy was in the United States Senate working tirelessly for causes in which I believed as passionately as he. I wish he had lived to see the passage of a health care reform bill, and I hope that when the bill does pass that it will bear his name.
The world is a slightly darker place tonight because he’s gone.