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Editorials from around USA Take the Measure of a Kennedy

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Editorials from around USA Take the Measure of a Kennedy

Article excerpt

A collection of editorials from around the U.S. on the passing of Sen. Edward Kennedy, as edited by McClatchy-Tribune News Service. *

The following editorial appeared in the Kansas City Star on Thursday, Aug. 27:


There's a simple and appropriate way to honor Ted Kennedy.

After 46 years as a U.S. senator from Massachusetts, Kennedy died Tuesday as federal legislation on his greatest passion - universal health care - is struggling in Congress.

Congress, in the spirit of bipartisanship for which Kennedy was known, needs now to pass health care reform.

His greatest strength as a legislator was his ability to reach across the aisle, to compromise and get important work done. This quality is sorely lacking today in Washington, which is mired in partisanship.

Kennedy represented an increasingly, and sadly, rare Washington collegiality and practicality. With former Republican Sen. Nancy Kassebaum of Kansas, he sponsored the 1996 Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.

Sen. Sam Brownback, a Kansas Republican, said Wednesday of Kennedy, "Despite our political differences, he was professional, courteous and thoughtful, and always looked for ways to find common ground."

Through the years, health care had been Kennedy's great mission. From helping establish the national community health system in 1966, to programs helping children, seniors and those living with HIV/AIDS, Kennedy returned again and again to the idea that health care is a right, not a luxury.

Even his political enemies, those who used him as a liberal boogeyman and focused on the tragedy of Chappaquiddick, will miss him. Was there a better foil for conservatives these last several decades?

The hope among those who appreciate him, though, must be to push forward on legislation he had hoped would be his legacy. There is no more fitting tribute to Kennedy than passing universal health care.

The following editorial appeared in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Thursday, Aug. 27:


Madison Square Garden was stiflingly hot on the night of Aug. 12, 1980. The long Democratic presidential primary campaign had ended bitterly, with President Jimmy Carter beating back a surprisingly inept challenge by Sen. Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts. The only drama remaining for the divided and disgruntled delegations to the party's national convention was seeing how Kennedy would react.

He spoke for 34 minutes, mentioning Carter's name only in the 32nd minute. The rest of his speech was a ringing restatement of liberal ideas as the core of Democratic Party principles and utter disdain of what Republicans and their newly chosen nominee, Ronald Reagan of California, stood for.

It was a masterpiece of political rhetoric, the finest speech Ted Kennedy ever gave, best remembered for its stirring final line: "For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die."

It was Kennedyism at its best and at its worst: inspirational and eloquent, but vindictive and self-absorbed. It did nothing to help Carter's chances against Reagan that fall. The way it turned out, probably nothing could have.

On that night, Edward M. Kennedy abandoned presidential politics and gave the rest of his life to the larger mission of advancing liberal goals. The dynasty that bullets and bad judgment denied gave way to a larger cause. With his death late Tuesday night at age 77, progressivism lost its greatest champion since Franklin D. Roosevelt.

He was the youngest of Joe and Rose Kennedy's nine children, never a part of the old man's grand plans, the jock who was kicked out of Harvard for cheating and who scored a touchdown against Yale after being readmitted.

During Jack's 1960 presidential campaign, his father sent him to coordinate the Democrat-poor Western states, after which he was handed Jack's Senate seat as soon he reached 30. …

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