On Kennedy passing: sadness will be the view from my beach today

Updated with photo. We can see Cape Cod from the beach we go to on the mainland. Yesterday our sky was clear bright blue while over Cape Cod there were beautiful talk white puffy clouds. I noticed they weren’t moving in the still air. They were the kinds of clouds you often see faces in. Cape Cod is where many old timers tell stories about "the Kennedy" boys, Jack, Robert and Teddy out and about. (The oldest, Joe Jr., was killed In World War II so few alive now remember him.) Ted went on to carry the torch for his fallen older brothers. Now he is gone. We’ll be at the beach today. We’ll watch the sky over The Cape. It will look different.
Update – photo added
 8/29/09 My wife and I didn’t go to any of the events in memory of Ted Kennedy but we did drive through Boston this afternoon and again this evening. Every electronic roadway sign said "Thank you Ted, from the people of Massachusetts". My wife tried to get a good picture through the windshield of several of them but it was raining and dark and of course we were moving. This was the best she could do. It was taken near the exit to the JFK Library where Kennedy lay in state.  Click to enlarge.
This morning on hearing the news I had little to add to the many memorials to Ted Kennedy already being expressed. However I looked at the title of my previous column, "Teddy Kennedy playing politics", and had a twinge of regret and I admit I wanted to write something to get it off the front page.
Ted, as he’s called here, wouldn’t have minded it though. He knew he was playing politics and believed it was for the cause he’d been fighting for for years. 
Ted was passionate about many things. Personally he was passionate about about his family and of course about sailing.
Professionally he was utterly dedicated to public service. When he felt strongly about an issue like the Iraq War or gun control the Kennedy voice shook the floor of the Senate and the airwaves of America.
He wanted to be remembered for carrying the banner for health care reform even as he faced imminent death from brain cancer.
Once Ted gave up on presidential aspirations he committed himself to choosing to fight for what he believed in in Congress. He eventually became known as "The Lion of the Senate".
If this lion could roar one last time, I am certain it would be to get the Senate to pass a health care bill that will bring equal health care to all Americans.
Update 8/27/09


  1. almandine

    It’s interesting to me, given my disdain for his collectivist politics, that upon hearing of his passing and trying to frame his legacy in my own mind, I at first thought of him as a rich man’s Barney Frank. In fact, though, it seems that he was more attuned to the underdog.

    Not a bad legacy from that perspective.

  2. Hal Brown

     Even as most people here in Massachusetts grieve the loss of Senator Ted Kennedy an active topic of conversation involves what will happen in our legislature regarding his successor. (See Boston Globe article.)

    Last week I wrote about Kennedy playing politics by urging that they pass a new law allowing Governor Patrick to appoint an interim Senator. 

    Our governor says he’ll sign such a bill and urges one be passed quickly. When asked about the hypocrisy of changing a law the the Democrats passed to prevent Republican Mitt Romney from appointing a new senator if John Kerry won the presidency he sidestepped a substantive answer saying (according to The Globe) that he wasn’t in office in 2004.

    I still believe that what is good for the goose is good for the gander (or the elephant and donkey in political terms). 

    A special election will be held this winter. If Democrats in the Senate need one vote to pass health care reform they will just have to wait.

    I have yet to see the only argument spelled out why this case is different from 2004. This is that when John Kerry ran for president he and the party knew it was likely that if he won  he’d be replaced by a Republican. Now our empty seat is the result of a senator’s death.

    I don’t think this is enough of a reason to change the law.  I do think that if a new law is proposed it should differentiate between the two ways a seat becomes vacant.

    If a seat becomes vacant because a Senator dies, has to resign for personal reasons, or is removed from office, an interim appointment is made by the governor. If a seat becomes vacant because the Senator takes another political job, be it elected office or a presidential appointment the seat must stay vacant until a special election is held.


  3. gazelle1929

    No reason not to hold a by-election within 30 days. Certainly would cut down on all the fund-raising and screams about how moneyed interests own this or that particular senator.

    Seems to me the English system does something like this.

  4. Hal Brown

     From the Boston Globe: "Under current law, a special election would now be held in January, with a primary scheduled for November or December."

  5. gazelle1929

    Yes, Hal, I knew that. My implication was obliquely (perhaps too obliquely, SO like me!) that the law could be changed to hold an election within a matter of a few weeks after the vacancy occurred.

  6. Hal Brown

     Here’s the editorial from The Boston Globe on this.

    This is a conundrum. Any change in the law means that the Democrats are admitting they were wrong to change the law in the first place. A mea culpa from a political party is about as rare as a white whale off Cape Cod.

    The problem with having elections much sooner is two fold. First, you need primaries, second you need the election. How could this be done in a matter of a few weeks?

    On the other hand, maybe this would be a great experiment to see if you can have a good electoral process without all the campaign bull that goes along with a typical election.

  7. gazelle1929

    “…(N)eed primaries…”? Let the interested parties have two weeks to get up a nominating petition with at least say 5 percent of registered voters. Then hold the election two to four weeks later. If no majority, then a runoff in two weeks.

    Or just install the person with the most votes. I personally prefer majority over plurality because it cuts down on the bitching later, but a runoff is more state money down the drain.

  8. almandine

    Waiting until the general election in 2010 would work, be less costly, give the opportunity for full participation…

  9. hologram5

    Wait until the general election, sure. Gives the lobbyists time to scrape together enough money to get “their” guy/gal into office.

    To Boldly Go…
    Anywhere there is sanity…

  10. almandine

    As if “their guy” hasn’t been in place since the cancer diagnosis – especially if the gov appoints him.