For almost five decades, Edward Moore "Teddy" Kennedy was the beating heart of liberalism in the United States Senate. A larger-than-life figure from a storied family, for some he epitomized all that was wrong with the nation - and for others, everything that was right with it. No matter which view you embrace, his tireless quest to elevate the poor and oppressed through legislation on health care, civil rights, education, immigration and labor left an undeniable mark on the nation.
He was a committed progressive and fiercely loyal Democrat, but the "Lion of the Senate" reached across partisan and ideological divides to notch important victories. He joined with President George W. Bush to deliver a Medicare drug benefit for the elderly. And with Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), he moved the Senate to provide medical care for millions by enacting the State Children's Health Insurance Program. His ability to meld advocacy with bridge-building will be missed in a Congress too often mired in partisan warfare.
His life was shaped by family tragedies - some of his own making. But only two others have served longer in the Senate than his 46 years. Kennedy's death is the end of an era unlike any other in American politics. He asked that his brother Robert be recalled 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." The same can be said of him. hN