The death of Senator Ted Kennedy brings to a close an extraordinary dynasty in U.S. politics. The Kennedy’s have often been referred to as America’s first family – the closest thing they have had to royalty. While he always sat in the shadow of his two more famous elder brothers, Ted will be remembered for his tireless work on health reform in the United States.
ABC radio reported a couple of days ago that perhaps the most extraordinary thing about Senator Kennedy’s passing was that it was due to natural causes. If there was any family that seems to have been cursed in history, it was the Kennedys. Apart from of course the tragic assassinations of John and Robert Kennedy, it is often forgotten that the eldest brother was killed in action in World War 2.
The one even that perhaps thwarted the journey of Ted Kennedy to the United States presidency was the infamous Chappaquiddick affair. Time Magazine describes his legacy well:
…his failure to get to the presidency opened the way to the true fulfillment of his gifts, which was to become one of the greatest legislators in American history. When their White House years are over, most Presidents set off on the long aftermath of themselves. They give lectures, write books, play golf and make money. Jimmy Carter even won a Nobel Prize. But every one of them would tell you that elder-statesmanship is no substitute for real power.
It was fitting that a member of the family that did so much for black America lived to see the swearing in of it’s first black President. Ted Kennedy had his weaknesses, but who among us doesn’t? He will be missed by many the world over. Politics needs more like him.