It was sad to wake up this morning to news that Senator Edward Kennedy (D-Massachusetts) has died at age 77. His demise comes as no great surprise; he was diagnosed last spring with brain cancer, and has not been able to cast a vote in the Senate for months. Still, the loss of this great “liberal lion” of Congress--the brother of an assassinated president, the brother of a slain presidential candidate, and once a presidential contender himself, in 1980--is profound. “An important chapter in our history has come to an end,” President Barack Obama said in a statement this morning. “Our country has lost a great leader, who picked up the torch of his fallen brothers and became the greatest United States Senator of our time.”
I won’t try and outdo others in heaping praise upon Kennedy. He was a man who had his faults, like all humans (except, I guess, those Republican’ts who insist that their political ascendancy was ordained by God), but he spent five decades strongly backing civil-rights legislation, worker-pay improvements, and efforts to make health care affordable and available to all Americans. Let me just direct you to some news items I think are valuable in understanding Ted Kennedy’s remarkable legacy:
• From Steve Benen of The Washington Monthly: “Kennedy’s Unfinished Work,” “‘One of the Most Accomplished Americans Ever to Serve Our Democracy,’” and
“Quote of the Day.”
• From The New York Times: “Edward Kennedy, Senate Stalwart, Dies,” by John M. Broder; “Q&A About Senator Kennedy,” by Adam Clymer
• From The Washington Post: “End of an American Epoch,” by Joe Holley; “Edward M. Kennedy, 1932-2009.”
• From Salon: “Remembering Teddy,” by Vincent Rossmeier; “ Ted Kennedy, Champion of Social Justice,” by Robert Reich; “The Senator’s Last Battle,” by Joan Walsh; “A Man of History,” by Vincent Rossmeier; “Emotional Biden Remembers Kennedy.”
• And from Slate: “Edward M. Kennedy (1932-2009): The Kennedy Who Most Changed America,” by Timothy Noah.