Friday, August 28, 2009

Ted Kennedy’s Legacy (Part 2)

Looking back over the Kennedy family’s history, and focusing on Ted, I find some interesting things.

First, this youngest brother was an embarrassment to the family early on. He wasn’t a good student, cheated at Harvard and got thrown out, and generally didn’t seem to have much potential.

Second, this late bloomer ended up having more of an impact on this country than his two high-potential brothers, President Kennedy and Robert Kennedy, both of whose lives were cut short.

Third, despite appearing to be not too bright and having a flawed personal life, he grew into his job as senator. He developed a great speaking style, similar to his brothers, and effectively learned how to work the system: craft bills, negotiate, and compromise. Despite being on the far left of the American political spectrum, he could and did work with those in the middle and on the right. Too bad that doesn’t happen more today.

Fourth, his heart was in the right place in that he worked on behalf of the poor, the marginalized, and the disadvantaged. Despite a brief run at the presidency in 1980, he appeared to be content in the Senate, where he built a power base and pursued his agenda.

Fifth, I believe he was better off and more effective as a senator than he ever would have been as president. Similarly, Lyndon Johnson should have stayed in Congress where he had power and influence, and not become Vice-President (and ultimately President). It may have been God’s provision for Ted and the country that he remained in the Senate. Otherwise, it is possible he could have gone down in history as a mediocre president rather than as a great senator.

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