• 37°

Editorial: The Senate loses a lion

Had F. Scott Fitzgerald been a contemporary of Ted Kennedy, the writer might well have reconsidered his oft-repeated aphorism that “there are no second acts in American lives.”
Sen. Edward M. Kennedy had one of the more remarkable second acts in American politics, and many segments of our society ó especially the downtrodden, the dispossessed, senior citizens ó are better off because of it.
The eulogies pouring in upon Kennedy’s death at age 77 have rightly paid tribute to him as the white-maned “Lion of the Senate,” the thunder-voiced keeper of the Kennedy flame and symbol of Democratic liberalism in service to the nation’s neediest citizens. But to fully appreciate Kennedy’s second-act role as a masterful politician, you have to put it in the context of family tragedies and personal failings, which at times made him more resemble Shakespeare’s King Lear than a legislative impresario.
As a young man, he was expelled from Harvard because of a cheating scandal. After losing his eldest brother, Joseph, in a plane crash in World War II, he saw his brothers John and Robert gunned down by assassins. As a neophyte senator, he indulged in well-reported episodes of boozy dissipation and debauchery, including the1969 Chappaquiddick incident in which he fled the the accident that killed Mary Jo Kopechne. Then, in 1980, he failed to wrest the Democratic presidential nomination from Jimmy Carter. That ignominous loss apparently made Kennedy realize his role in the political dynasty would not include the Oval Office prize that patriarch Joe Kennedy so highly coveted for his sons.
It was both bitter political defeat and defining moment. As a Washington Post article notes, thereafter “he seemed liberated from the towering expectations and high hopes invested in him after the death of his brothers, and he plunged into his work in the Senate.” Although his personal life still had its messy eruptions, Kennedy developed a reputation as an effective, diligent lawmaker. His legislative accomplishments included measures to provide health insurance for children of the working poor, the Americans with Disabilities Act, Meals on Wheels for the elderly, family leave and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. He was also a key negotiator on legislation creating No Child Left Behind and a Medicare drug benefit. And by endorsing Barack Obama over of Hillary Clinton, the grizzled lion proved himself still capable not only of bucking elements within the Democrat Party establishment but his own family as well.
In his latter years, Kennedy carried the torch for universal health care ó a cause he continued to promote while waging his own courageous battle against cancer. It’s no small irony that just as that goal shimmers on the horizon, Ted Kennedy is now absent from the stage. How he might have affected the outcome, we’ll never know. But no one should doubt the energy and passion he would have brought to the debate.

Comments

Comments closed.

High School

Photo gallery: Carson girls win West Regional, headed to state championship

High School

High school basketball: Carson girls headed to state championship game

Local

Commissioners set date for public hearing on potential solar energy system rule changes

Health

Two of Rep. Sasser’s bills successfully pass through Health Committee

Local

Rep. Warren’s measure to allow removal of public notices from newspapers put on back burner

China Grove

China Grove Town Council weighs future of previously rejected housing development

Local

Salisbury City Council hears public comments, receives presentation on Main Street reconfiguration

Crime

Blotter: Man charged with felony drug offenses

Nation/World

California crash kills 13 of 25 people crammed into SUV

Nation/World

Biden vows enough vaccines by end of May

Coronavirus

State to vaccinate medically vulnerable starting March 24

Coronavirus

One new death, 20 new COVID-19 positives reported in Rowan

Kannapolis

Kannapolis man dies in moped crash

Crime

Salisbury Police chief addresses K-9 video, says officer separated from animal

Local

Rowan Rescue Squad sets record straight on fundraising typo

Local

City approves DOT agreement, Salisbury Station project could begin next year

Local

County plans to use vulture effigy, enforce violations to remedy animal carcass feeding problem

Education

Two weeks after ending enhanced protocols, Catawba has no COVID-19 cases

News

Council to hear revised version of Downtown Main Street Plan

Local

Veto override of NC school reopening bill fails in Senate

News

Political Notebook: Majority of likely voters, local legislators support school reopening bill

Coronavirus

COVID-19 vaccinations in Rowan top positives since start of pandemic

Crime

Man faces drug charges after breaking and entering call

Lifestyle

Waterworks schedules 2021 Summer ARTventures