Thursday, August 27, 2009

Edward M. Kennedy (1932-2009), R.I.P.

When news broke on Wednesday morning that Senator Kennedy passed away, it was shocking in the sense that it was really over. It was common knowledge that the last Kennedy son had only a little time left. Turning the TV to C-SPAN and seeing images of the senator in his younger years was all the indication necessary to realize that his end had come.

When a titanic character like Ted Kennedy passes away, it can be easy to forget the things we did not like about them and only remember the good. It seems too petty to squabble once they’re dead. If we’re lucky, and the deceased wasn’t a nefarious scoundrel, we really can dwell on their finer side. But in this case, we have quite a struggle.

At worst, he was a murdering adulterer. At best, he was a manslaughterer with marital indiscretions that were as endemic among the Kennedy men as political ambition.

It’s not a burden for me to confess that I had no sympathy for the political positions that Ted Kennedy held. From his numerous immigration boondoggles to ruinous health care overhauls to education bar-lowerings, I found little agreeable with his agenda. Aside from his vote against the Iraq war, I would have to strain to think of a single vote of his that I would applaud.

With a health care debate literally raging and its chief spokesman going to the grave, it doesn’t take a genius to realize that his death will be used by his political allies to propagate their cause or that his enemies will continue to use his name and image as the “Liberal Lion” as a bludgeon against it. Indeed, even in death, Ted Kennedy will remain with us.

One of nine children, one of four sons, he had the closest to a natural death of any of his brothers. It’s difficult not to feel sorry for someone forced to endure that sort of tragedy. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy and neither would I wish it on Edward Kennedy either.

Love him or hate him. Those were the only options for Ted Kennedy in life. For what he did in his public and private life, I am not ashamed to admit that I hated him. But not enough hate to be pleased that he breathed his last breath late Tuesday night.

Rest in peace, Teddy. Let us bury the hatchet with you.


Jeremiah Whitmoore said...

I could sympathize with someone I disagreed with 100%. However, I cannot sympathize with someone with this much personal baggage. With the numerous affairs, general spirit of alcoholic nihilism and probably guilty of murder, it's hard to feel sorry for someone like him.

Carl Wicklander said...

I know what you mean. It's not as though I'm here wishing I had known him better or shown greater respect for him while he was alive.

When I say that it's a struggle to find something nice to say about him, feeling sympathy for personal tragedies 40 or more years ago is about all I could come up with. But as despicable as his character and agenda were, no one deserves that.

After all, we've had all our opportunities to justifiably trash him over the years, but now it's over.