A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life

A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life
I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand. For this also I believe, –that unless I believed, I should not understand.-- St. Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Senator Edward Kennedy (1932-2009)

Senator Edward Kennedy, the Liberal Lion of the Senate, has died. Those who have said that an era has ended with his death are right. While it is the case that there are plenty of Kennedys still around, their influence in politics will not be what it has been apart from the youngest of the nine Kennedy children.

Senator Kennedy was committed to the cause of liberalism and championed that cause, although as a master legislator he worked across the aisle in order to get something of what he wanted, while giving the opposition something of what they wanted in the democratic process. Kennedy would make an ideological speech declaring his convictions on the floor of the Senate and then behind the scenes embarked on a pragmatic course of legislation that is so foundational to democracy.

Kennedy was also a very gracious person. He never let partisan arguments get in the way of goodness and kindness. When former press secretary to George W. Bush, the late Tony Snow was suffering with cancer, Kennedy would call Snow regularly to inquire about his health. When a young Republican Senator was welcomed to Capitol Hill with insults from some Democratic Senators, Kennedy warmly welcomed him to his office and showed him around. This was not a "butter them up" game for the late Senator; he was truly an individual who cared about people. There are even some stories that have floated around Capitol Hill that when a constituent asked for help from the Senator, he would, when it was expedient, enlist the aid of a couple of Republican colleagues, backing away allowing them to take the credit for assisting someone in need.

In a day when partisanship means not even associating socially with members of the other party, Kennedy is a reminder to us that democracy works best when it operates passionately yet civilly, and that regardless of one's political views, the opponents are just as concerned about the welfare of the nation as those on your side. It cannot be overstated how much he was respected by his colleagues on both sides of the aisle. Usually one does not gain respect unless one first shows respect.

As always your comments of tribute are welcome, but the policy of this blog is that when obituaries are posted, criticism or back-handed shots at the recently deceased or even using someone's death to bash members of the opposition will be deleted.
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Cross-Posted at RedBlueChristian


Jim Walker said...

Ted Kennedy's life is an amazing story of fall and redemption; a story of what can happen when we don't let our future be defined by our past failures; a story of what can happen when we free ourselves of what others tell us we are supposed to be (President in his case) and instead become who God made us to be (in his case one of the greatest legislators in American history); a journey from self-centeredness to being a caring, compassionate, supporter of his collegues; a story of what can be acocmplished when we reach out to our "enemies" to discover common causse; and an illustration that reaching out to our opponents can be done without a loss of integrity or abandonment of the ultimate goal. Of course Jesus told us that this is the way it is, but we seem to need a lot of reminders and the life of Ted Kennedy is a particularly glorious reminder.

Judy Westman said...

Vickie Reggie Kennedy, the second Mrs. Edward Kennedy, deserves a lot of credit in the redemptive process. Since their relationship began in 1991, with marriage in 1992, the Senator ceased to be on the tabloids and concentrated on his family and legislative career. For those of us in health care, he had leading roles in the National Cancer Act of 1971, AIDS treatment and the Ryan White movement, the establishment of COBRA insurance, the Health Insurance Portability and Acountability Act of 1996 (the Kennedy-Kassebaum bill), Mental Health Parity Act, the State Children's Health Insurance Program, and the expansion of Medicare to include prescription drug benefits.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Thanks so much for this, Allan.

Dave Westman said...

Fascinating interview on NPR's "All Things Considered", with Sen. Orrin Hatch, "who said he came to Washington more than 30 years ago with one goal: to fight Ted Kennedy" and "would go on to become one of Ted Kennedy's closest friends and a key ally in the Senate".

Hatch's own words:
"We fought each other like tooth and tongue but afterwards, we'd put our arms around each other and laugh about it. And we passed a lot of very important legislation together..."

Indeed, we need that today!