During years of political madness, Kennedy often enough remained sane and insightful. Heart-sick at his responsibility for the death of Mary Jo Kopechne, we liberal boomers knew he could not be the true hero we’d hoped his brothers would be. We’ve since learned, I think, that there are far fewer of those than we may then have thought.
I like these comments from the NY Times:
Born to one of the wealthiest American families, Mr. Kennedy spoke for the downtrodden in his public life while living the heedless private life of a playboy and a rake for many of his years. Dismissed early in his career as a lightweight and an unworthy successor to his revered brothers, he grew in stature over time by sheer longevity and by hewing to liberal principles while often crossing the partisan aisle to enact legislation. A man of unbridled appetites at times, he nevertheless brought a discipline to his public work that resulted in an impressive catalog of legislative achievement across a broad landscape of social policy. …
In 2002, he voted against authorizing the Iraq war; later, he called that opposition “the best vote I’ve made in my 44 years in the United States Senate.”
It is quite a blow not to have his strong voice during the health care debates.