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Senator Ted Kennedy Has Died

Sarah's picture

According to a NYT breaking news update, he passed away Tuesday night at his home. The Senator was 77.

Breaking News Alert
The New York Times
Wednesday, August 26, 2009 -- 1:31 AM ET

Edward M. Kennedy, Senate Stalwart, Dies at 77

Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, a son of one of
the most storied families in American politics, a man who
knew triumph and tragedy in near-equal measure and who will
be remembered as one of the most effective lawmakers in the
history of the Senate, died late Tuesday night. He was 77.

Read More:

UPDATE: I don't have a live feed for CBS here, but CNN's Anderson Cooper 360 is showing it as Breaking News. FoxNews has a statement here.

Senator Kennedy served in the Senate for 43 years.

His family has issued a statement thanking everyone who gave care and support to the family.

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cal1942's picture
Submitted by cal1942 on

they want about Joe Kennedy and his fortune. The important thing about Joe Kennedy is that he sent all of his sons into public service. Today we still see the occasional son of a very wealthy family in politics, but sent there not to serve the nation but only to guard and expand the family's fortune.

All four of Joe Kennedy's sons:


Died while serving their country.

a little night musing's picture
Submitted by a little night ... on

used what advantage they had (from Joe) to enable their public service. I recall one of the younger generation (John Jr?) saying this. Can't find the quote now. Dammit.

Woe for what is lost and cannot be regained.

BostonBeverageBoy's picture
Submitted by BostonBeverageBoy on

when I woke my wife up to tell her the news. I couldn't answer some of her questions, just nodding or shaking my head, trying for stoicism or something stupid like that.
The nation and this commonwealth are bereft of one of the last remaining defensive lines of common sense and compassion, our Uncle Teddy.
Now what?

mass's picture
Submitted by mass on

Not just for the reasons most outside of our great state know him for, ie pushing liberal causes, but also for his regard of his constituents. He's one of the few Senators someone in need could turn to and he'd be there.

Submitted by lambert on

... of where the Medicare for All idea came from. Duh. And this idea as well:

The bill was amazing in its simplicity: every 2 years (or, in another version of the bill, every 5 years) the eligibility for Medicare was lowered by 10 years (and raised from below by 10 years), with those under 65 being asked to check a box on their taxes if they signed up for Medicare (to be charged for it). It's a great model for the public option, and makes the argument for a public option easier.

It would be a great memorial to get this kind of public option.

jumpjet's picture
Submitted by jumpjet on

I'll raise a glass tonight in your honor. May you take your place among the chorus of the saints.

leah's picture
Submitted by leah on

For getting this up, for keeping it so simple and dignified. I'm glad I got the news here rather than anywhere else.

I'm probably the only person here who was a quasi-adult when the entire notion of the Kennedys entered our national life. I was too young to vote for John, though the voting age then was 21, but I did work for him. They, the three brothers, the royal family, all the genuine history and the distorting hagiography surrounding them were so entwined with all the movements of the sixties, that so is my own political coming-of-age inextricably entwined with their histories, and their myths.

I'll be posting my thoughts later this morning; right now I'm trying to sort them out. I do hope we can use the occasion of this very real loss to find some of the non-mythic meanings of that history

cal1942's picture
Submitted by cal1942 on

I was 18 when JFK was elected. I was looking forward to casting my first Presidential vote for him in 1964. The assassination ended that.

I remember quite clearly when JFK sought the Vice-Presidential nomination at the 1956 Democratic Convention. I was impressed with his speaking ability.

Sarah's picture
Submitted by Sarah on

I was so afraid we'd not have the notice in a timely manner, I probably left it too stark. But the man deserves our remembrance; he spent his life serving us, even after watching serving this country kill his brothers.

He was the engine behind the "expand Medicare" theme that kept coming back in Democratic administrations. The proper thanks, I think, if we can offer it, would be to make America the nation he wanted: full of healthy citizens who didn't have to be afraid of losing everything over illness or injury.

Submitted by Paul_Lukasiak on

Especially during the last decade, Kennedy has been more concerned with maintaining his position as the #1 liberal in good standing at Versailles on the Potomac than he has been in actually fighting for progressive politics. That meant throwing over progressive principles in the name of bipartisanship and "a record of legislative achievement". (No Child Left Behind is probably the most notorious example.)

And Kennedy's silence when single payer was "taken off the table" (and when his own HELP Committee was sidelined in favor of the Baucus caucus) in deference to Obama made it nearly impossible for real health care reform to happen -- his insistence upon retaining his seat (and, more crucially, his chairmanship of HELP) despite the fact that he was too ill to be effective was a truer measure of his character than all the saccharin laced tributes we'll be hearing for the next week....

Andre's picture
Submitted by Andre on

for the Senate, except the first one - I was too young, only 18. But over the last couple of years I have to say I've been very disappointed in him, especially the health care fight, which was coming across as more a re-working of his legacy, this in spite of my memories of his call for medicare for all, cradle to grave, which I kept harping on for a few years now. I feel bad that he has passed, but I also have to be realistic. Bobby was my favorite, but I wonder if he and Jack had plans to take on the establishment, the worst parts of which they no doubt had seen, and in their arrogance (and they were pretty arrogant) pissed off a few people. That's my tin foil hat theory. But Ted in his later years had no intentions of taking on the establishment.

Sarah's picture
Submitted by Sarah on

and how hard it had landed on him over Chappaquidick, I can't say I blame the man.

This is from the AP eulogy the local NBC affiliate (which is farther to the right in my hometown than the local Fox affiliate, hard as that may be to believe) emailed me this morning:

Associated Press Writer

BOSTON (AP) - Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, the liberal lion of the Senate and
haunted bearer of the Camelot torch after two of his brothers fell to
assassins' bullets, has died after battling a brain tumor. He was 77.

For nearly a half-century in the Senate, Kennedy was a steadfast champion
of the working class and the poor, a powerful voice on health care, civil
rights, and war and peace.
To the American public, though, he was best
known as the last surviving son of America's most glamorous political
family, the eulogist of a clan shattered again and again by tragedy.

His family announced his death in a brief statement released early

"We've lost the irreplaceable center of our family and joyous light in our
lives, but the inspiration of his faith, optimism, and perseverance will
live on in our hearts forever," the statement said. "We thank everyone who
gave him care and support over this last year, and everyone who stood with
him for so many years in his tireless march for progress toward justice,
fairness and opportunity for all."

Kennedy was elected to the Senate in 1962, when his brother John was
president, and served longer than all but two senators in history. Over the
decades, he put his imprint on every major piece of social legislation to
clear the Congress.

His own hopes of reaching the White House were damaged - perhaps doomed -
in 1969 by the scandal that came to be known as Chappaquiddick, an auto
accident that left a young woman dead.

Kennedy - known to family, friends and foes simply as Ted - ended his quest
for the presidency in 1980 with a stirring valedictory that echoed across
the decades:

"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."

The third-longest-serving senator in U.S. history, Kennedy was diagnosed
with a cancerous brain tumor in May 2008 and underwent surgery and a
grueling regimen of radiation and chemotherapy.

His death late Tuesday comes just weeks after that of his sister Eunice
Kennedy Shriver on Aug. 11.

In a recent interview with The Associated Press, Kennedy's son Rep. Patrick
Kennedy, D-R.I., said his father had defied the predictions of doctors by
surviving more than a year with his fight against brain cancer.

The younger Kennedy said that gave family members a surprise blessing, as
they were able to spend more time with the senator and to tell him how much
he had meant to their lives.

The younger Kennedy said his father's legacy was built largely in the

"He has authored more pieces of major legislation than any other United
States senator," Patrick Kennedy said in the interview. "He is the
penultimate senator. I don't need to exaggerate when I talk about my
father. That's the amazing thing. He breaks all the records himself."

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

I can think of no more fitting tribute to Ted Kennedy than to realize his dream for his constituents, both within and beyond the borders of the State that sent him back to the United States Senate eight times. I've read elsewhere that Senator Robert Byrd seeks to put Senator Kennedy's name on a health care reform bill. Let that be the legacy of the man from Massachusetts who carried Camelot's torch so long and so faithfully: that we stop denying citizenship's full bounty.
"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."

MsExPat's picture
Submitted by MsExPat on

In anointing Obama during the primaries. I wondered then, as I still do, whether this was because of CDS, or because the idea of a female president was just too much for the old-school Kennedy macho sensibility to handle.

Jeff W's picture
Submitted by Jeff W on

For some reason I liked this paragraph near the end of the NY Times obituary:

Their little brother Teddy was the youngest, the little bear whom everyone cuddled, whom no one took seriously and from whom little was expected. He reluctantly and at times awkwardly carried the Kennedy standard, with all it implied and all it required. And yet, some scholars contend, he may have proved himself the most worthy.