A Sad Day

I have nothing new or insightful to add, but it feels wrong to go back to blogging without paying respects to Ted Kennedy. When I was younger and perhaps more idealistic, I used to carry around a copy of his speech at the 1980 Democratic National Convention. He was a man who cared about the poor, the unemployed, and the sick, even as their cause became less and less fashionable over the past four decades. He believed that justice went beyond formalistic legal rights and extended to economic and social conditions as well. The Senate needs another person like him, but sadly will not find one.

By James Kwak

22 thoughts on “A Sad Day

  1. That 1980 speech was so incredibly unfashionable at the time.

    Here are some select quotes from it:

    On “the dignity of useful work…”

    “To all those who are idle in the cities and industries of America let us provide new hope for the dignity of useful work. Democrats have always believed that a basic civil right of all Americans is that their right to earn their own way. The party of the people must always be the party of full employment.:

    On Reagan’s proposed tax cuts…

    “The tax cut of our Republican opponents takes the name of tax reform in vain. It is a wonderfully Republican idea that would redistribute income in the wrong direction.

    “It’s good news for any of you with incomes over 200,000 dollars a year. For the few of you, it offers a pot of gold worth 14,000 dollars. But the Republican tax cut is bad news for the middle income families.”

    On health care reform…

    “Finally, we cannot have a fair prosperity in isolation from a fair society. So I will continue to stand for a national health insurance. We must not surrender We must not surrender to the relentless medical inflation that can bankrupt almost anyone and that may soon break the budgets of government at every level. Let us insist on real controls over what doctors and hospitals can charge, and let us resolve that the state of a family’s health shall never depend on the size of a family’s wealth.”

  2. Finally, Mary Jo, may you be able to rest in peace.

    (She would have celebrated her 60th birthday this July, had she not climbed into the sainted Teddy’s car…)

  3. James, that is very bleak.

    You may want to study up on Bill White, who with luck and the Grace of God will make it into the Senate next year.

    He has been a great mayor in Houston, inclusive, level-headed and practical. I hope and believe that he is a solid manager, and a good man, and that can help bring some more of those qualities to the Senate.

  4. I’m with ya OldSouth,

    What should be remembered most bout ol’ lying, cheating Teddy are the scratches on the ceiling of submerged oldsmodible in chappaquiddick. Those scratches by Mary Jo prove she could have been saved if only Teddy had made the effort. But he didn’t. Forget about his drunkeness and his cheating on his wife. Those things happen all the time to politicians of all points of view. But to let her die out of some stupid intention to cover up it all, that shows what a mean, heartless, evil, selfish bastard the man was. No amount of glowing accounts of the speeches he made can erase the stain of him as Mary Jo’s killer. To lionize this killer is pathetic and disgusting, and a black mark on all those who try to lionize him. He should have rotted in jail for the rest of his days.

  5. You people are truly sick — grow up. I’m ashamed for all of you who can be so bitter towards someone on the day of their death.

  6. While one sympathizes with the grief of friends and family over Kennedy’s death as much as one would over the death of anyone, actually, we fall here a bit deeply into the pool of nausea inspiring overstatement that typically surrounds the loss of politically prominent people. This demonstrable oafal, for example:

    “He believed that justice went beyond formalistic legal rights and extended to economic and social conditions as well.”

    Tell that to the millions of the littlest children whose slaughter Kennedy’s Senate votes facilitated over the course of his particularly privileged career. This very day, Kennedy faces a justice for that that transcends the self-serving standards offered up by courts of law and the imaginings of an elitist academia.

    Or this:

    “The Senate needs another person like him …”

    Sorry my friend, you’ve got that wrong. We need a new Senate, not another Kennedy.

  7. Might I suggest you seek help? The man spent his entire life paying for that and repenting. Get over it.

  8. Everybody makes mistakes. INCLUDING Mary Jo who got into a car with a married, drunk man. Mary Jo made mistakes, Ted Kennedy made mistakes.

    If we asked Jane Wyman what her thoughts on Ronald Reagan were, what would she say?? What would Patti Davis say about the amount of time her father spent with her growing up?? What would the TWO divorced wives of Newt Gingrich say about Newt?? Think about what someone you wronged in your life would say about you??

    Ted did a lot to make up for those mistakes, and hopefully God will be charitable when he judges him, just as we hope God will be charitable when he judges any man’s sins when he shows sincere regret and asks for forgiveness.

  9. If I was spending unlimited amounts of someone else’s money (as he and everyone else in congress is), I’m sure I could also afford to make great compassionate speeches about social justice, equality, and goodies for all. Unfortunately for me, the only money I have is what I earn, so I have to be a bit more careful about how I spend it and the promises I make. As a productive worker I’m sure I’m 100% expendable, but God forbid that we someday run out of populist career politicians like Mr Kennedy.

  10. Blame the victim?! Man, what are you smoking? Kennedy was a rotten scoundrel for running away from responsibility for his actions, and in spite of his apologists, he will always be remembered for Mary Jo Kopechne’s death at Chappaquiddick.

  11. Actually, I’ve been bitter about Ted Kennedy’s oligarchical life since I was old enough to understand he was a First Class scoundrel. That would be about 35 years ago. No point in waiting until today, except now I don’t have to be bitter any more! Cheers.

  12. if the challenge exists ‘and i do believe it does’ the multitude will at some point find another man to speak on behalf of the out reached.
    or we can have the worlds best charity

  13. I believe Lincoln was the last politician to work without a speechwriter…

    A speechwriter works with the speaker to shape and craft a speech that reflects the speaker’s voice and ideas. Shrum did a great job here for Kennedy. But it’s Kennedy’s voice and ideas that Shrum put into a beautifully crafted speech.

    Keep in mind that in 1980, this speech seemed like an act of hari-kari on the part of Ted Kennedy, given the anti-government environment of the time.

  14. As a Canadian, following the media coverage on the death of Senator Ted Kennedy, I found his story very moving. His was a star-crossed family who championed the Liberal cause, their Irish roots informing their awareness of colonization and oppression. The deaths of his brothers John Kennedy and Robert Kennedy are a personal tragedy we cannot fathom. Yet he persevered and defined a public role for himself as a great legislator, respected and loved by political friends and foes alike. There is an illustration to mark his death, of Ted stepping from a wharf to join his brothers John and Robert on a sailboat in the clouds. The poetry in this illustration worth a thousand words. May they find happiness and serenity together in their journey across the sky.

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