Now it's Ted's turn, and it doesn't matter if you write a thousand lines praising him and one mentioning Chappaquiddick, Chappaquiddick is what people are thinking about. Some are remembering his 1980 speech at the DNC, some are mourning the apparent end of the legacy that his brothers started. But it's especially tragic that a man who embodied the best of Christian ideals, who lived his life a true public servant and champion of the poor and powerless, will always be remembered by, in his words, his "indefensible" behavior the night Mary Jo Kopechne died.
Now all these years later, we can finally move on from that. In my life, I think the only speakers who I have ever heard who could hold a candle to Ted Kennedy were Jerry Falwell and Bill Clinton, and honestly I don't think either were his match. He was brilliant, eloquent, and he exuded a charisma that would have made him a celebrity no matter who his people were. As a long standing member of the Senate from Massachussetts he had the freedom to espouse the sort of ideals that politicians from, shall we say, less enlightened states are compelled to water down.
You'll hear people lionizing his life but harping, with differing degrees of regret, on that one black mark on his record. As I think back to Reagan I am reminded that this is the narrative with all liberal tragic figures; great personal failings that manage to detract from their tremendous public accomplishments. Clinton. Kennedy. Edwards. The conservative tragedy narrative is the reverse, a man of great personal virtue who falls from grace through the abuse of power. Reagan. Bush. Nixon. I know which of the two affects me most directly. We will miss Ted Kennedy, Lion of the Senate.