Friday, August 28, 2009

We won't soon see his like again

By Edward Copeland

As we get further from the news of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy's passing (I write this minutes before the wake is set to begin), I find myself getting sadder and sadder. I always liked the man, though I never met him, but when you look at the list of legislative accomplishments he had a hand in in his 47 years in the Senate, it truly is extraordinary.

He truly was what a senator should be. Sure, he had flaws in his private life, but there never was a hint of a scandal related to his work on Capitol Hill. He never chased lobbyists for cash to run campaigns and gave them favors in return. He wasn't a showhorse, especially once he gave up his quest for the presidency. He rarely appeared on the Sunday news shows. He did his job and did it well.

What makes me weep the most are the personal stories that keep popping up from all quarters. The conservative Republican father grieving for his son killed in Iraq at his son's grave at Arlington turning around and seeing Kennedy for the first time in his life and complaining about the improper armor on humvees. Kennedy had hearings within weeks and got the humvees properly protected.

The stories of how he seemed to be the first to call when someone faced a tragedy or send a surprise gift to someone he barely knew when they had a child. How when one of his children and G. Gordon Liddy's daughter were graduating from the same private school while Liddy was in prison, serving his time for Watergate. Obviously, the girl did not have an easy time of it, being the daughter of Liddy. At the ceremony, Kennedy sought her out, gave her a big hug and told her not to worry that her dad was very proud of her.

A relative of conservative pundit Pat Buchanan worked in George W. Bush's White House and was given the task of the delivering to the Senate Judiciary Committee members the name of a new appointee for an appellate court. The first senate sort of shrugged it off, saying, "Another right winger." Kennedy welcomed the young man into his office gregariously and showed him around, pointing out photos and mementos. Buchanan said when the young man returned, he was walking on air.

Kennedy came from a life of privilege, but his passion was for the little guy and those who needed help to avoid oppression.

With the ugliness of politics today, it's a double tragedy that we have not only lost this great man, but the Congress has lost a member who knew why they were there instead of getting stuck in partisan mudslinging and not crafting anything worthwhile. The wake is about to start. Time for me to weep some more for everyone's Uncle Ted.

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