Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The dream will never die

The last vestige of Camelot has died.

Rest in peace, Teddy.

I don't think Edward Moore Kennedy's life or legacy should be unduly romanticized. The man was a lush. A womanizer. There's no question that Mary Jo Kopechne wouldn't have died at Chappaquiddick if EMK had been a more responsible person. And the fact that he waited 10 hours before reporting it to the police was beyond disgraceful -- it was criminal.

That said, I also think that (Kopechne aside) many Americans would not be alive today if it weren't for the efforts of Ted Kennedy. Few American politicians did more to get more people (including children) on the rolls of healthcare than EMK. Few Senators did more to enhance and extend education than Kennedy. He was an energetic champion of Civil Rights and I believe he saved the Supreme Court from the likes of the odious Robert Bork.

Some are saying that his overall impact on the American political scene will overshadow those of his brothers. I'm not so sure about that. But given how large both Robert and John F. Kennedy loomed in his life (and in all of American life, in fact) I think Teddy might have been the most literary character in the family. While catastrophic outside events conspired to destroy Jack and Robert's lives, Ted was his own destroyer. He was probably much more than an ordinary man -- but he had to compete with these supermen brothers, which would knock the wind out of anyone.

He was, I think, the most human of the Kennedys.