So Long, Teddy

Whether his longstanding dream of healthcare reform will live on remains to be seen, but the “liberal lion of the Senate” unfortunately won’t be around to see it realized. Sen. Ted Kennedy finally succumbed to mortal inevitability tonight, losing his year-long battle with brain cancer — dead at the age of 77*

I’m saddened by Kennedy’s death even though its imminent certainty was assured. He was a flawed man, to be sure, but also one that valiantly sought to redeem his honour and integrity over time through many decades of steadfast public service characterized by moral courage, relentless tenacity championing numerous worthy causes, and an abiding compassion for the common welfare of his fellow citizens.

I can’t think of a better tribute than his own eulogy to his slain brother as it seems to encapsulate the ideals that energized and motivated him…

The hope rises again and the dream lives on!

Doubtless, there will be much (covert) rejoicing amongst “conservatives” at the news of Kennedy’s death, but also perhaps some tinge of regret — at least insofar as one of their favourite objects of bone-idle vilification, ludicrous rhetorical excess, vicious personal attacks, and savage lampooning has now abruptly transitioned into comic irrelevancy. I wonder if some will even be sufficiently loony as to speculate that the timing of his death was a bit “fishy” or otherwise suspiciously contrived to advance Obama’s healthcare agenda…

*A figure that we note is actually three years later than the average male life expectancy in the USA, which ranks 45th on that score worldwide, just slightly ahead of Saudi Arabia and some former remote Polynesian colonies of France and the Netherlands.

Update: Feel free to document the atrocities. Or not.

Update2: Small Dead Vermin — Always a class act.

Update3: The lion roaring and all that. A brief tribute from the folks at Think Progress.

44 Replies to “So Long, Teddy”

  1. I had just said to my hubby about a week ago that I wondered if Obama was in such a hurry to get the health care bill through because of Kennedy so Kennedy could see it happen before he passed on.

    It’s what you do in the end that counts – with all the scandals the Kennedy family certainly have given to their country and championed good causes. I don’t know if today they would have gotten so far because of the scandals (journalists didn’t write or talk about such things way back when).

    Bill Clinton’s scandals were mild in comparison, and yet the right wing have tried to destroy him.

    Maybe it’s just my bad memory, but I don’t recall any Republican doing as much as the Kennedy’s, Clinton or Carter for their country after their political careers.

  2. Well in Reagan’s defense he probably didn’t know what country he was in or what a country was after his presidency.

  3. Requiem æternam dona eis, Domine; in memoria æterna erit justus, ab auditione mala non timebit./ Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord. He shall be justified in everlasting memory, and shall not fear evil reports.

  4. Teddy Kennedy, flawed, yup and then some. God have mercy on his soul.

    I also remember Mary Jo Kopechne. RIP

  5. As I blogged today – the irony is that the U.S. had a proposal for universal health care very similar to the Hillary Clinton package back in 1974, which failed for want of support from Edward Kennedy.. proposed by Richard M. Nixon. A move which Kennedy has referred to as the biggest mistake of his career.

    However – what cannot be denied by any conservative is that the Kennedy brothers gave their all to their country. For a family of wealth to have endured what they did to serve their country is an example that we could all emulate.. as much as we may disagree with their vision of improvement.

  6. Leave it to theWingnuts to exploit Mary Jo one last time. Sure, they really, really, REALLY care. That’s why they also rail about Pickles Bush, and the classmate she killed, after she ran a stop sign at 50 miles per hour.

    Nah, you can’t score political points against your own party. That wouldn’t make sense.

    Morality is a one way street that always travels in the opposite direction.

    As for Kennedy-

    He fought for what he believed, which is more than you can say about the majority of human beings.

  7. Ted Kennedy was a rabid reich wing reactionary, as evidenced by Nancy REAGAN’s statement regarding his passing:

    “Former first lady Nancy Reagan says she is “terribly saddened” by the death of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy.

    The widow of Republican President Ronald Reagan said in a statement early Wednesday that despite the differences between her husband and Democrat Kennedy, the two “could always find common ground, and they had great respect for one another.”

    Let’s not be so quick to lionize the so-called “liberal lion” of the US senate.

  8. I also remember Mary Jo Kopechne. RIP

    He probably only first heard of her after 9/11, when all North American wingnuts woke up and realised there’s a World out there, with history and everything. And we’ve been suffering ever since.

  9. Mad Hatter, your dealer sold you some crap weed. It’s making you ramble like a fool. You shouldn’t opt for the cheapest stuff he has.

  10. Seems to me, so often, as we attack any politician we disagree with, we lose sight of the reality that they are human beings, real people, with feelings, fears and desires.. who feel pain, who endure hardship and stress as flawed human beings.

    I would suggest that those seeking to raise the spectre of Ms. Kopechne stop to consider the devotion of the late Senator and his brothers to seek to improve the world around them – regardless of whether we agree with their views.. and then, before you post your commentary on the Senator’s checkered past, you ask yourself..

    “What effort have I made to make the world a better place?”

  11. The eulogy he gave his Brother in 1968 ranks as one of the great perorations of the modern age – pure poetry.

    A long life can only be measured by the sum of a man’s accomplishments, and NOT by one incident.

    A flawed man to be sure, but who amongst us is perfect?

  12. Good post RT. Flawed as Kennedy may have been, it’s hard to imagine a man (and a family) more personally committed to the betterment of a nation and the pursuit of social justice. May he rest in peace, and may his legacy live on in those who he inspired.

    And as to your second point, here’s another bottom feeder who, with ease, puts the “ass” in “class”.. What a turd-blossom.

  13. As I made some effort to bring some perspective on the passing of Edward Kennedy to “Small Dead Animals”, it struck me that I am, perhaps a man with no country, so to speak.

    I continue to find conservative principals, for me, to be most pursuasive.. however, I am coming to some belief that those who share that position are, to a great degree, mindless assholes.

    ..que sera

  14. however, I am coming to some belief that those who share that position are, to a great degree, mindless assholes.

    It’s the result of a huge misunderstanding. Some people who are decidedly *not* stoic, cautious, reflective, supportive of traditions and traditional institutions and moderate in both thought and speech are calling themselves “conservatives” these days. It is bizarre.

    Anyway, “Chappaquiddick” is what Michael Bérubé used to construct what will always be the best summary of the “unhingedness” that seized Americans after 9/11:

    Here’s what happened. Back on December 21, I’d asked why it is that newly-minted wingnuts adopt all the wingnut positions of the past three or four decades even if they themselves became wingnuts only in the past four years. And I’d summarized their Campbell’s Condensed Cream of Post-Sixties Wingnuttery like so:

    “Everything changed for me on September 11. I used to consider myself a Democrat, but thanks to 9/11, I’m outraged by Chappaquiddick.”

    And this is literally, scientifically true. People used 9/11 to to reformulate, for themselves, their past mental, emotional, intellectual states when that is impossible and when it no longer mattered anyway.

  15. I’m not sure about that Ti-Guy. I think these nuts always considered themselves “conservative”. It’s just that at some point they found keyboards. Traditional conservatives were elitist (a word with far too many negative connotations). Men with the right education, the right job, the right family and the right number of zeros, were the only ones able to get the podium. With the internet, all the plebs got the idea that their opinion mattered. They all found eachother and suddenly the conservatives were overun with libertarians. They really are correct when they talk about the conservative revolution, that’s exactly what it was.

  16. ..and it continues on my own blog.

    Here’s my take, for whatever it’s worth.

    In the reptillian portion of our brain lies the hypothalmus.. the part of our brain which controls our “fight or flight” reflex. I have recently learned in taking training for negotiation that people with personality disorders are likely to have difficulty controlling this portion of their brain, in favor of rational thought processes.. and in the shadow of what they perceive as a “threat” they revert to, well, childish or immature reactions of anger and fear.

    So.. it would appear, at least at present, that there is at least some extreme insecurity, if not outright personality disfunction by a certain element of the conservative blog world. Not to say that doesn’t occasionally rear it’s head at the other end of the political spectrum but, of late, I would have to concede that it is most prevalent coming from the right.. which is hardly any way to inspire confidence or security in trying to influence others to at least consider our point of view…

    ..and in so saying, I can’t for a moment suggest that I haven’t, occasionally, fallen into the trap myself of emotional over-reaction. However. We are a “society” aren’t we?

  17. The Democrats could pass universal health care if they just agreed to one caveat to lower costs: tort reform. Will never happen, because a major $$$ constituency for the Dems is greedy lawyers who like to sue health care providers into bankruptcy. John Edwards’ made $54 million from this scam. On the flip side, the Republicans’ $$$ constituency is health care insurance companies who do not want to be put out of business with universal health care.

    Call the Canadian system socialist/rationed or whatever. I see it as a lesser of two evils (compared to the US system) where a doctor might make a more modest living but will at least not have to fear getting sued at every turn.

    Watching the demographics of these town hall screaming matches on health care, I think what we’re witnessing in the US is a major political re-alignment. I predict that in a few years, the Republican party will be the ones to represent the interests of the aging baby boomer population to mooch off of the young.

    Becoming the anti-immigrant party means that your only opportunity for growth is in the aging white population (case in point, McCain carried the “senior citizen” vote handily by a 56-44 margin). The Republican party will transform itself from the corporate/fundie coalition to the corporate/geezer coalition. It will be interesting to watch how this all plays out. The Republicans will quietly abandon their anti-stem cell stance as they see the benefit of artificially extending the lives of their primary future electorate.

    The future of US politics will basically be: affirmative action geezers fighting against affirmative action minorities to see who gets the most out of government largesse. The “Death Panel” scare tactic is tangentially based on this, but these types of conflict will become more obvious in the years to come.

  18. Or in other words, I’ve seen the future of US politics, and it’s Grandpa Simpson VS Al Sharpton.


  19. LOL

    I’m not sure if tort reform would have much effect. Certainly not under the present system. In states where caps have been imposed, health care costs have not gone down.

    That said, “defensive medicine” is definitely a problem that needs to be addressed if the U.S. ever hopes to get its costs down in this area.

  20. In both of our countries, health care will change, it has no choice. It may change in an evolutionary fashion, with much pain and suffering, or it may change with some reasonable foresight.. but it will change. There’s no choice. When the wheels fall off – you have no choice but to pick up the wagon.

  21. Lots of states already have tort reform and damage caps in place as a state law and they haven’t done much to reduce costs. High damages drive a very small part of escalating costs.

    A bigger problem are the regional and local oligopolies the health insurance companies have. In some states, like Alabama, there are only 3 insurance providers for the whole state. Even New York only has 8 for the whole state.

    And of course, from a individual’s perspective, the health insurance company is a monopoly. Don’t like your the healthcare company your employer chose? Tough luck. It’s not like you can choose another and expect your employer to pay its share of your premium to the company of your choice. You are stuck with what THEY picked.

    For all the talk about the private sector being more competitive and therefore more efficient than a government option, there is nothing further than the truth on the ground. There is no incentive for insurance companies to be more efficient or effective because there is no real competition between them. Every one of them operates in its little fiefdom.

    They are like the cable/internet companies in U.S. and Canadian cities and we all know how frustrating they are.

  22. There are probably co-factors as to why medical costs have not gone down–defensive medicine being an obvious one. Perhaps there have been impediments for competitive insurance companies to enter the marketplace?

    When they capped automobile injury payouts (those deemed “soft tissue” or non-serious) in Alberta, the government required that savings be passed to consumers. I’m in favor of that, if only for the fact that it brings down the cost for everyone.

    Maybe the US just needs a major overhaul that puts a regulatory agency with special courts that deal directly with malpractice cases–as in, if a doctor followed a certain standard of procedure then he or she be given the benefit of the doubt if a negative outcome occurred for the patient.

    “American trends are harder to track, because of the large number of private insurers offering malpractice protection there. However, fee hikes have been noted, particularly in the states of New York, Texas, and Florida, which saw fees increase 30 to 50 percent from 2001 to 2002. Many high-risk specialists like obstetricians and neurosurgeons now pay annual fees of more than $100,000US, which is leading some of these doctors to leave their practices”

    But of course, I’m open-minded to abandon my ‘anti-lawyer’ stance in favor of something that reduces the cost of health care. However, I’ll take the pro-lawyer studies (made by the lawyer lobby) with a grain of salt when they claim that their litigation only costs 0.6 percent of total health care costs and that without them, the evil doctors would butcher and mutilate their patients at will.

  23. There’s no choice. When the wheels fall off – you have no choice but to pick up the wagon

    I wish that were true, but I am not optimistic. I think we are going to see a replay of what most companies did with pension funding in the 1990s.

    Most major companies used to fund employee pensions as part of their benefit package. The pensions were supposed to supplement the Social Security payment and provide a retiree with a middle class lifestyle once (s)he was too old to work. It made the current generation of over 65’s the richest in American history.

    In the 1990s in the name of competitiveness funding this benefit was shifted to the worker, who was told to take part of their salary and invest it in a 401(k) (American RRSP) and an IRA (which is a net salary cut across the board for the Middle Class that no one talks about.)

    But with middle class wages stagnating, costs continuing to rise and other social benefits (college tuition for kids even at State schools, etc.) increasing at a rate higher than wages, most people my age are no where close to saving at the rate they need to for retirement. (I certainly am not one of them.) And speaking as an HR manager who runs benefit numbers for reporting purposes, I can say many workers often dip into these accounts when they lose their jobs, or have other medical and other emergencies. Even amongst the savers, these accounts are woefully underfunded or even tapped out. On top of that, Social Security is going to be insolvent and the homes many people put their nest eggs during the housing bubble in have collapsed in value.

    So when people my age (Gen X, Y, Z) reach retirement, they are going to live in the same kind of poverty that America’s elderly endured in the 1920s. And that is going to be a huge social transformation. You are literally going to see old people work until they drop dead and the ugly institutional nursing homes come back to house the decrepit who can’t pay for their elderly care. It’s going to be ugly.

    If healthcare isn’t reformed, companies are going to do the same thing and push the as much of the burden as they can onto the worker as well. It’s already happening. At my New York based company there isn’t a year that goes by when the healthcare premium isn’t raised, the deductible isn’t raised or something is cut. So the process is underway right now. At some point Corporate America is going to wash their hands of funding healthcare and the health insurance companies are either going to collapse or evolve into something else. But again, it’s going to be ugly.

  24. In the 1990s in the name of competitiveness funding this benefit was shifted to the worker, who was told to take part of their salary and invest it in a 401(k) (American RRSP) and an IRA (which is a net salary cut across the board for the Middle Class that no one talks about.)

    You have to admit, it was a dodge they pulled off beautifully.

  25. “It’s going to be ugly.”

    That’s my point.. when the wheels fall off, and I mean, off, societal attitudes about many things will be shifting bigtime.. and my sense is that will force a massive shift from the outside to the middle..

    In other words, if purist capitalists think that society will sit back and watch a healthcare system that ONLY serves the interest of the very wealthy they are mistaken.. (see the French Revolution)

    At the same time – if the ardent socialists truly believe that “business” will solely accept the burden of massively increasing health care costs, they haven’t learned the unspoken reality that business never pays tax.

    For a business to operate, it must create profit. As that profit approaches a point where it does not match the investment necessary to create it, either by way of capital or effort, it will by necessity change to either:

    a) increase revenue (pass the cost on to the consumer); or
    b) decrease expenditures (drop wages, reduce employment).

    Or it will just cease.

    My guess is we are going to see:

    – higher taxes and more significant cuts to non-essential government services to cover the cost of health care;
    – difficult treatment choices made by medical treatment boards who decide who gets what care, based upon various factors, including age, liklihood of success, past patient compliance with treatment, etc.;
    – user fees to discourage waste and abuse;
    – expanded “private” treatment to remove direct costs of treatment to the state where individuals are able to cover the costs directly (see “Two-tiered Health Care).

    I’m not advocating any of this.. but I have a difficult time seeing a rosy conclusion to the health care debate that doesn’t adopt all or most of these changes in the long run.

  26. Higher taxes are coming anyway. The U.S. has a $56 trillion deficit and growing. The U.S. also has to stop spending 50% of those taxes on the military. There is no need for America to spent 10 times more than the next country, China, every year. It’s a ridiculous waste of money.

  27. heh, saw 32 comments and was cerain this thread was overrun with wingnuts. nice to see it’s been a reasonable discussion.

    teddy: no more flawed than the average man, just that his flaws were made widely public. unlike the average man, his legislative efforts are of such breadth that he changed the face of american politics like no other of his time. a liberal in philosophy and a pragmatist in practice.

    has anybody seen my old friend teddy….


  28. Against my better judgement, I checked out SDA. I see Shaidle’s there, even more hopped up on hate and bile than usual.

    She’s the perfect example of being outraged by Chappaquiddick post 9/11. I mean, what was she doing at the time? She was 5 and living in Hamilton, Ontario, for fuck’s sakes.

  29. “there will be much (covert) rejoicing amongst ‘conservatives’ at the news of Kennedy’s death”

    there was plenty of overt rejoicing when reagan passed.


  30. Even if I think his views were mistaken to some degree, he gives his whole life to politics, after watching his two brothers murdered for following the same career path.. he continues to stand up for his cause even as he is dying a horrible death.. and some are “rejoicing”?

    I seem to recall similar behaviour of certain Muslim extremists dragging the bodies of dead Amercian soldiers through the streets.. ironic when you consider the typical position of conservatives to “extremists”.

    What else can we say about those attacking Edward Kennedy today, but that they are “extremists”?

  31. Maybe we need to change our perception of the political spectrum to moderates and wingnuts and hit restart.

  32. Rob — I can’t help but note the grandiose moral hypocrisy of many of these people who bear an irreversible grudge against Kennedy because of his self-confessed “reprehensible” behaviour after the Chappaquiddick incident (and to a lesser extent his other failings and indiscretions), who at the same time, claim to be “Christians”…

    Um, what’s missing there? Could it be forgiveness and redemption? If I’m not mistaken these sympathetic qualities of mercy and absolution are at the heart of many creeds within the orbit of Christianity, no? At least, that’s what I was taught in Sunday school… But then, maybe these folks, self-righteous and ostensibly pious though they are, never went to Sunday school, or church for that matter, but are simply CINOs (Christians in Name Only).

    But of course, I could be mistaken. Maybe they have a deeper, more profound understanding of the New Testatment, because according to these folks once you have sinned, that’s it. Game over! You might just as well cash in your chips right then and there. Time to board the next ferry ride to H-E-DOUBLE HOCKEY STICKS.

    Unless you’re a “conservative” of course, in which case you get another FREE PASS to Neverland.

  33. Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian anymore than standing in a garage makes you a car.

  34. Ha! That’s a wonderful quip. I’ll have to remember that the next time I encounter a Christian church-goer (few and far between in these parts).

    Regarding the previous point, here’s Gov. Mark Sanford expounding on why he shouldn’t step down from office as Governor of South Carolina:

    Yes, there’s an “amazing capacity for forgiveness” (with “real world people”) and an “amazing, um, I guess acceptance of this notion that God can use imperfect people to perform jobs in all walks of life…” Unless of course, you happen to be a Democratic senator — well, then you’re fucked. Off to the 7th level of HELL with you!!!

  35. Wow. Sorry I missed that.

    The monumental hypocrisy and unbridled arrogance is absolutely staggering, isn’t it?

    And yet… the witless rubes and Chamber of Commerce chuckleheads give him a standing ovation.

    Some days I just want to give up…

  36. CC.. I appreciate the comment.. though I’m quite certain to post something new to raise the hackles of all concerned.. I mean, if we all agreed with eachother all the time, these blogs wouldn’t be any fun at all would they 🙂

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