R.I.P., Ted Kennedy

Senator Edward M. “Ted” Kennedy passed away at 77, finally succumbing to brain cancer. Sen. Kennedy outived Bob Novak by about a week, his sister Eunice Kennedy Shriver by about two weeks, and of course, his assassinated brothers, the late President John F. Kennedy and Senator Robert F. Kennedy, by some decades. Also somewhat ironically, I see that the late Mary Jo Kopechne died in the Chappaquiddick incident 40 years ago this summer. (Besides Chappaquiddick, 1969 was a somewhat busy summer, what with the moon landing, Woodstock, the Vietnam War still raging and the coming ascendancy of the New York Mets… heady times for your then 8 6 year old talking dog… who only really remembers the moon landing.)
While many progressives will credit Kennedy as “the liberal lion,” I note that he comes with a “mixed bag” legacy. He served the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in the Senate virtually my entire life, being first elected a week or two after I was born. He was, in addition to being the third-longest serving senator ever, a powerful committee chairman, and his name was attached to many major bills. Of course, because of his famous name, he did get an awful lot of slack.
His accomplishments such as they are must be weighed against his ill-advised and peevish run against sitting Democratic President Jimmy Carter in 1980, which helped pave the way for the last three decades of right-wing ascendancy, as Carter (with his own party duly divided) ended up losing (far more narrowly than people care to remember) to Ronald Reagan. The Chappaquiddick incident, of course, speaks for itself. And Kennedy willingly provided cover to the George W. Bush Administration’s abominable “no child left behind” nightmare that further reduces American public education to a load of rote, industrial-era “teach-to-the-test” mediocre crap, largely so that he could get his name on a big (“bipartisannnnnn”) bill. And I could go on by mentioning his selfish opposition to wind-power (because an off-shore wind farm it would interfere with the view from his Hyannis estate) or his role in rapid-deployment landscaping to help his nephew William Kennedy Smith evade justice.
Oh well. Enough violating the rule of De mortuis nil nisi bonum, I suppose. I’ll stop here. Condolences to his family, and to all who honored and respected him. R.I.P., Senator Kennedy.