August 26, 2009

R.I.P. Ted Kennedy

It will come as no surprise to readers of this space that Niagara Times has never been particularly enchanted with the late senior senator from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Ted Kennedy was far too liberal for our tastes, and, frankly, we never quite bought his explanations for the events that night at Chappaquiddick. But now, that’s between Kennedy and his Maker, and no longer for us to judge on this earth.

Instead, we today salute the man who managed, despite a legislative record we found far to the left on many issues, to accomplish some significant and important things for his country.

Among his most important legacies was being, arguably, the leading voice pushing the 26th Amendment. While, by being born near the end of the Vietnam War, we never had to contemplate the notion of “Old enough to fight the war, old enough to vote,” Kennedy was right on this point—at least in the era of Vietnam and the draft.

Likewise, Kennedy was critical in ending the filibuster of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (which, incidentally, was being carried out by his fellow Democrats), which allowed the landmark legislation to finally come to a vote in the Senate. Now, while that law was far from perfect, and probably overstepped federal authority in a few areas, all in all it was good, and the right thing to do to end America’s own apartheid—the Jim Crow laws in the South.

Ted Kennedy was wrong—horribly wrong and misguided—on far more, of course, and his legislative “accomplishments” seem a laundry list of things that have increased our taxes. But despite that, we cannot help but feel like Ted Kennedy’s death was the end of an era that began to wither away when his brother Jack died in Dallas.

And maybe that nostalgia for Jack Kennedy’s idealism is why Ted Kennedy’s eulogy of his other brother, Bobby—a man whose convictions, if not all his policy ideas, we truly do admire—is how we prefer to remember him today:

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