First off, let me extend condolences to America on the loss of Ted Kennedy. Oddly enough, he's the second famous Ted Kennedy to pass away this month. Admittedly, the first one's only famous to Toronto Maple Leaf fans...but for many of the same reasons the political Kennedy was famous. Ted "Teeder" Kennedy was a lion of a hockey player. He won five Stanley Cups with the Leafs, captaining the team to three of them. His determination and heart are well known to anyone who ever played with him or against him. He commanded respect.
Edward Moore Kennedy commanded a different kind of respect, mostly because he gave respect so freely. America should mourn his death because he might well have been the last of the conciliators...and America has never needed conciliation as badly as it does today.
Nobody seems to be able to talk for long about Ted Kennedy the politician without mentioning a certain bridge and a certain woman named Mary Jo Kopechne. What actually happened that night will never be known, but Kennedy's actions and statements in the aftermath were indefensible in any event. And yet, the American people saw fit to forgive him. He might well have been nominated for President had he chosen to run. He might, in fact, have won more than the nomination...and what a different America that would have made. For one thing, we wouldn't be seeing this unseemly fracas over health care in 2009, because the United States would by now have had a single-payer system in place for the better part of forty years. Health care reform was, after all, Kennedy's life's work.
I'll be writing in the next few days on Abdelbaset Al-Megrahi, the convicted (quite possibly wrongly convicted) terrorist supposedly behind the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie in 1988. I've soaked up a ShamWow! full of outrage over this and I'm almost ready to wring it out right on screen. But not tonight. I've got to ease back in to this political muck and mire.