The Lion of the Senate has died.
He passed on at the age of 77 shortly before midnight. He was in Hyannis Port with family. After four decades in the Senate, the last of the Kennedy brothers has joined his brothers Joe Jr, John and Robert on the other side.
But Teddy must of known his end was near. Last week he sent a letter to MA Governor Deval Patrick requesting that the law be changed to allow a replacement to take his seat immediately upon his death or resignation. From Chris Cillizza’s The Fix:
Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy’s letter to Gov. Deval Patrick requesting that state law be changed so that if he steps aside in the near future an interim senator would be appointed in his place set off a new round of speculation about the future of the legendary Senate seat.
Kennedy’s proposal would amend a 2004 state law that calls for a special election to fill a Senate vacancy at least 145 days after the seat comes open, allowing the governor to appoint an interim replacement so that the state is not lacking a vote in the Senate in the period leading up to the special election. (The law was initially written to keep then Gov. Mitt Romney from appointing a Republican replacement if Sen. John Kerry was elected president.)
From CNN, some of the highlights of his career as a public servant for over forty years:
But while the White House eluded his grasp, the longtime Massachusetts senator was considered one of the most effective legislators of the past few decades. Kennedy, who became known as the “Lion of the Senate,” played major roles in passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act and the 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act, and was an outspoken liberal standard-bearer during a conservative-dominated era from the 1980s to the early 2000s.
He did so much to advance equality of all kinds for all people. Good bye Teddy…you can now rest. What follows is his surprise speech at the Democratic National Convention last August:
Like President Obama, Ted was a moving orator. His words will be here for all eternity. He was a wonderful eulogizer as well. Sadly, he had to bury so many of his family members, the most recent his sister Eunice, who’s funeral he could not attend due to his health. From the Daily Beast writeup, part of Teddy’s eulogy for Bobby, which should also apply to Teddy:
My brother need not be idealized, or enlarged in death beyond what he was in life, to be remembered simply as a good and decent man, who saw wrong and tried to right it, saw suffering and tried to heal it, saw war and tried to stop it. Those of us who loved him and who take him to his rest today, pray that what he was to us and what he wished for others will some day come to pass for all the world. As he said many times, in many parts of this nation, to those he touched and who sought to touch him:
Some men see things as they are and say why. I dream things that never were and say why not.
His personal life was filled with mistakes, pain and tragedy..imagine that, he was human..but his body of work as a public servant will live on. The healthcare bill was his pride and joy, fighting for decades to see that all people had access to quality healthcare. As Robert Byrd said today, the healthcare bill should bear Teddy’s name. As Robert Reich said in his post tonight on Ted:
We owe it to him and his memory to do it soon and do it well.
Leave your condolences for the family here at tedkennedy.org. There are wonderful sections about Ted on the site, peruse them and savor what he did for all of us for over forty years. The tribute video below was shown at the 2008 Democratic National Convention.