In the end, it didn’t matter that Teddy Kennedy never became president.
At times it seemed like he was more influential than any one president at any given time over these last 40 years.
He served his country better as a senator than he probably would have as a president.
His track record proved he certainly accomplished more in Congress than he would have behind the Oval Office desk.
In his 47 years in the Senate, 300 bills have his name attached to them. That may not seem like a lot in that span of time, but when we look at what both Houses of Congress can’t agree on, it’s pretty impressive.
Unlike his martyred brothers, President John F. Kennedy and Sen. Bobby Kennedy —- whose lives are romanticized over what might have been —- Teddy lived a full life and showed what a Kennedy brother could accomplish.
Teddy was a tireless champion of the underprivileged —– a passion among the Kennedy children who came from a family of privilege.
His speech in 1964 about civil rights which contained the phrase, “A man should be judged not by the color of his skin, but by the content of his character” helped pave the way for the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
In the process, that bill —- along with the Immigration Act of 1964, which he also championed —– helped change the face of America.
That action, courtesy of the better angels of our nature, lead to Teddy endorsing Barack Obama early on in the 2008 Democratic primaries. He essentially passed that famous torch to a new generation.
History will be kind to Teddy Kennedy for his accomplishments not only on civil rights, but also education, minimum wage, family leave, Title IX, rights of the disabled, and his tireless push for health care for all Americans — for which the jury is still out.
He was truly the last true progressive in both the Congress and Senate.
History will be kind, but it will also remember that Teddy was a Kennedy, and that translates into a real-life Shakespearean play of tragedy and triumph.
The Kennedy tragedies have been well-documented —- a lot of Americans felt their pain during those hard times.
Of course Teddy’s faults were legendary — especially the Chappaquiddick incident in 1969 where a young women died when Kennedy, clearly drunk, crashed his vehicle.
Chappaquiddick was never really resolved —- and it put Teddy, the last surviving brother of a potential presidential dynasty, off the list of a sure-fire bet to get the 1972 Democratic nomination to run against President Richard Nixon.
Kennedy did challenge incumbent President Jimmy Carter in 1980, but I never really thought he was serious about it.
He knew he couldn’t unseat the incumbent —- and he was just doing his duty to please his fan support by testing the presidential waters.
Kennedy’s wicked ways with the bottle and babes was a treasure trove for the tabloids. The Kennedys weren’t simply policy wonks.
By the 1970s and into the 1980s, Camelot seemed more like Plato’s Retreat. And Teddy Bare, as he was referred to back then, was turning out to look like the Fredo Corleone brother of the family.
But just like in the movies, the hero finds redemption.
Ted Kennedy, that aging Lothario, got down to business.
He was young again through his many causes. The Liberal Lion of the Senate was still roaring in the 1990s and into the new century.
And he never wavered. The optimism and the courage of his convictions remained with him until he could legislate no more.
The child of privilege dedicated his life to every child denied their rights.
He was an imperfect man to be sure.
But he did his best to help the nation come that much closer to becoming a more perfect union.
The Kennedys had their detractors, but who among us who followed that clan wouldn’t have at one time or another wanted to be a Kennedy.
For many of us there has been a Kennedy brother serving in either the Senate or the White House for as long as we’ve been alive.
That era is over. Then there were none.
The passing of Ted Kennedy means a lot to us political wonks.
His faith and optimism in his country brought an sense of urgency to act and to do so with civility.
Ted Kennedy was a man of great vision who never lost sight of his goals.
The great painter Picasso said, “Everything we can imagine is real.”
Hard to imagine a nation without its Kennedys.
Love them or hate them. They were the real deal.
The brothers are together again now.
And Jack and Bobby are thanking their kid brother for carrying out the agenda they were denied to bring to light.
The dream lives on.
Let’s hope it never dies.