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Senator Edward “Ted” Kennedy: The Past Few Days 77 Years In the Making

The death of Ted Kennedy clearly has meant many things to many people; and this post focuses on the “Mostness” of this event.

For starters Senator Kennedy lived a full and storied life. The coverage of his illness, and the news of his death on Tuesday hit the news cycle Wednesday AM. Every major news site on the web has provided massive coverage, filled with all kinds of overlays, packages, testimonials and even opinions (CNN, The New York Times, The Washington Post to name a few) all leading up to Saturday’s funeral, which of course will be further covered into early next week.
NBC Nightly News devoted an entire hour to Kennedy’s passing on Wednesday night (possibly the other broadcasters did the same?). The story even became a story with Drudge linking to a report on the low ratings for the coverage. Maybe the rating were down, but I’d suspect in large part this was due to the story being everywhere including all the expected places but also covered by organizations like ESPN, and even Access Hollywood – apparently Kennedy once went to a movie….

In Boston the two major newspapers took some time figuring out their respective approaches, with the Boston Globe playing more of a fan of Kennedy celebrating his life and times immediately, while the Boston Herald certainly has its fair share of Kennedy adoration, they also elected to
place as its lead online story on Thursday an Op-Ed about how Kennedy really was such a swell guy, considering he left the
site of an accident that resulted in a young lady losing her life while he was driving (more on this below).

The Personal: Undoubtedly Kennedy was a big player in one of the most storied families in modern American history and in Kennedy’s death much of the coverage has come back to his big brother John F. Kennedy (President #35) as well as the entire Kennedy clan. Ted Kennedy’s life was filled with a number of triumphs and accomplishments, but much of the personal angle coverage has been devoted to his family, the Kennedy legacy, the unique place the Kennedys have in our lives, and the tragedies the Senator was forced to endure, including the death of his oldest brother in a WW2 plane crash, the death of a sister in a plane crash, the death of his nephew John
in a place crash, a sister with special needs due to a failed lobotomy, his own near death experience in a plane crash that broke his back, 2 of his own children surviving cancer, and of course the assassinations of both of his brothers, Robert
and John.

There are some great personal dramas that have been drummed up including his initially failing out of Harvard, the drinking and even the womanizing, but the big story is and always has been Chappaquiddick, the drowning death of a young lady named Mary Jo Kopechne, and Kennedy’s decision to flee a crime scene
only to report it 10 hours later. This event will always be a part of Kennedy’s legacy, and in Kennedy’s death
this event is once again a part of the conversation.

Much has also been recently been written about the legislative legacy of Teddy, his body of legislative work and his great passion for the every-man. Largely considered the last of the ‘New Deal
Democrats’, the legislative record is both very large given his considerable time in the
Senate and very impressive. In general the consensus seems to be favorable that with Kennedy in the Senate a number of social services for the needy were allowed to flourish and become part of the trusted fabric we all believe makes America the special place that it is. That said there are a number of stories out
there that politically speaking are less favorable in regard to his legislative legacy, as well as a good handful
that try to arc Kennedy’s road to redemption.

And of course there are all those fiery speeches that are once again getting play, including the one he gave at his brother Robert’s funeral, and the one he gave at the 2008 Democratic Presidential Primary endorsing Barack Obama – many considered this his last great legislative act, and of course the impact Kennedy has had on Obama has been largely chronicled.

Tributes: Many politician and pundits are sharing great Ted Kennedy stories right now; either
as a force, or a great compromiser, a great leader, or again in Drudge’s case –
the lack of comment from the Pope. President Obama went as far as to call Kennedy “one of the greatest senators of our time.” Cable news is having a field day bringing in all kinds of experts – just turn on CNN, MSNBC and to a
considerably lesser extent Fox News. Following the viewing at JFK Library in Boston, with an estimated 50,000 people attending, right now the story is about the Irish wake just conducted in Kennedy’s honor, highlighted by many great speeches. Tomorrow of course will be another big day for Kennedy as the funeral will be conducted in Boston and then his body is moved from Boston down to Arlington Memorial for burial near his brothers. With President
Obama set to deliver the eulogy, this clearly has the potential to be one of those moments in history where the nation witnesses one legacy conclude while another really begins to define itself.

Lastly we’re left with what comes next. First the Democrats have attempted to use Kennedy’s death as a rallying cry for health care, then the Republican quickly accused the Democrats of trying to hijack the Senators death; the reality is Kennedy’s vote will be missed in what is already a highly contentious issue. That brings the conversation around to the the issue of who is going to assume
Kennedy’s seat in the Senate
; a few years ago when there was a Republican in charge and Kennedy’s colleague John Kerry was running for President the State of Massachusetts changed the rules for how a new Senator could be appointed in the middle of a term; as a dying wish Kennedy asked that they now change to rules back to allow the Governor the authority to appoint someone, and
the Governor seems to agree

Clearly Senator Kennedy played a huge role in our country and the coverage surrounding his passing has been surpassed only by circus surrounding Michael Jackson’s death. Very proud to have Senator Edward Kennedy be the first official “Most” on the blog; being raised in the Boston area I can personally attest to his presence within the affairs of Massachusetts; this man was largely respected in the Bay State and based on the massive coverage over the past few days the nation on large part seems to agree.

Rest in peace.

Posted on Saturday, August 29th, 2009 Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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