Remembering Senator Ted Kennedy
It’s been known for a long time now that Ted Kennedy was dying from brain cancer. But still, hearing the news of his death just now, I’m surprised how caught off guard I am. Part of it is that I didn’t realize how close he was to dying. Part of it is the realization that the last of the Kennedy brothers is gone.
Last year in Boston, I was fortunate enough to attend a campaign rally for then Senator Barack Obama (found the announcement for it). It was actually February 4, the night before the Super Tuesday nationwide primary, a time when the Democratic nomination and the history we’ve witnessed since then was still very much in doubt. The scheduled speakers included John Kerry, Deval Patrick, and Senator Kennedy, who had stunned the Democratic establishment a week before by endorsing Barack Obama for President. Caroline Kennedy, who was at a rally in Los Angeles the day before with Oprah, Maria Shriver and Michelle Obama, made a surprise appearance.
While standing in line– for four and a half hours in the Boston winter– my wife and I spoke to an older gentlemen who told us he worked for Bobby Kennedy’s campaign in 1968 and hadn’t been this excited about any candidate since then. I remember thinking someday I’d be telling my kids about this night.
I wrote some thoughts down afterward. Here’s a couple of them:
▪ Ted Kennedy twice said “Deval Patrick” when he clearly meant to say Barack Obama, which led the crowd to chuckle and murmur about how tired everyone up on stage must be.
▪ At one point in his speech, Obama referred to Republican political tactics as “the okie-doke.” He then stopped, turned around to Ted Kennedy sitting behind him and laughed, “Ted, you don’t know what the okie-doke is, do you?” Kennedy shrugged his shoulders and smiled.
This was months before anyone knew Kennedy was dying.
One of the things I remember most vividly about that night was listening to Ted Kennedy and being in disbelief that I was in the same room as Ted Kennedy. All those books I had read about the Kennedys, all the movies I had seen, all the news features about their impact on American government, and this guy lived it. At the end of the night, my wife and I made our way to the front of the stage, but Senator Kennedy had already slipped out the back with Governor Patrick and Caroline. I had to settle for a handshake from John Kerry and Barack Obama.
Found some video on YouTube of Kennedy’s speech from that night. Just a glimpse of how great this guy was, even at that age and even with that yet-undiagnosed condition. We were probably standing about 20 feet behind whoever took this video.
- You stay classy, Michelle Malkin: Ted Kennedy edition
- On Politics and the Sorry State of Affairs (or, you know, the Democrats)
- Good Morning Forbes