Stories From A Life

Been there. Done that. Writing about it.

Sally Swift

Sally Swift
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
June 14
VP, Repartee
Swift Retorts
sally: a journey, a venture, an expression of feeling, an outburst, a quip, a wisecrack ... me


AUGUST 26, 2009 10:32PM

Ted Kennedy, The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

Rate: 26 Flag


"I regard as indefensible the fact that I did not report the accident to the police immediately" Ted Kennedy, during a televised statement after pleading guilty to leaving the scene of an accident, Chappaquiddick, July 1969

"I hope for an America where neither "fundamentalist" nor "humanist" will be a dirty word, but a fair description of the different ways in which people of good will look at life and into their own souls." Ted Kennedy, October, 1983

The last Kennedy brother is gone. An era has literally ended. It covered many years, bred three (four?) generations and offered up countless important events, and yes, scandals too. That book is now closed.

Or is it?

Ted Kennedy and his famous family had an enormous impact on our country, our laws, our future. They directly and indirectly affected a portion of our country's history, from the 1950's til today.

Often, but not always, for the better.

Yes, they were touched by far too much tragedy. But many of them, most notably Teddy, willfully broke society's and God's laws over and over with virtual impunity. That's just not acceptable.

I agree, the sum of a man's life should not be measured only by his mistakes, especially youthful ones. His lifetime of work, of service, of commitment and contribution should carry much more weight.

In theory.

But Ted Kennedy's "indiscretions" were in fact lifelong frat boy behaviors, immoral, illegal, dangerous, extending long after college into adulthood, when he was a husband, a father, a United States Senator.

He was a habitually unfaithful husband, a heavy drinker, a routinely drunk driver. He had a mean temper. He held grudges and acted on them to crush opponents. We'll never know what else, but there's got to be more.

Most of all, worst of all, he caused a woman's death.

You can never un ring that bell. Not even if you step up, show remorse, actively seek rehabilitation and redemption.

None of which Ted Kennedy ever did. Not a day in jail. Not a day in rehab. No community service. No statement of responsibility. He paid a fine, he paid off the family and went on with his own life.

Mary Jo Kopechne's life was over. A young woman barely out of her teens. Who would never grow up to see her own promise fulfilled, the achievements, successes she might have had.

All the accomplishments Ted Kennedy is being lionized for in death were denied to her.

Directly or indirectly, Ted Kennedy was responsible for Mary Jo Kopechne's death. First he ran away from it. Then he got away with it.

Did he achieve greatness in his life's work as a public servant? In many ways, yes. I've been a supporter of his work in the Senate, if not of his self-indulgent lifestyle.

Was he, as 'Uncle Teddy,' the rock and kindly patriarch of his extended family? They say he was. People I know who are close to the family say he was their port in a storm. Though more often than not, three sheets to the wind.

Am I bashing him? No. I'm recounting, not canonizing. He did become a responsible, highly effective, hard working senator. It's too bad he won't be here to see universal health care become the law of the land. I hope that law eventually has his name on it.

This is what I said about Senator Kennedy last summer during the Democratic Convention:

Yes, he's fighting a terrible disease, but he's got really good health care. He has fought to get affordable health care for all. He's fought in many other areas for the average American. His Senate record is remarkable. It's ironic and amazing that the least admired Kennedy brother has become arguably the best legislator in the country. I admire him for that.

I also said this:

In the end, Senator Kennedy either showed up to help Barack Obama or to make his own last great public appearance. It looked like the latter. Not because he may be dying. I'm sorry if that's true. Because he allowed his ego and personal animus [against the Clintons] to get in the way of supporting our presidential candidate. I'm even more sorry if that's true. 

I will always admire Ted Kennedy for his many important contributions to our country.

Just as I will always imagine what it must have been like to be his wife. His children. Or Mary Jo Kopechne's parents.

May they all find and rest in peace.

Last December I wrote about Chappaquiccick, the 40-year-old elephant in the room. I wonder what, if anything, will come out now.

My Ted Kennedy Chappaquiddick Story





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I don't believe in making a saint out of a sinner, just because they've died. May his good deeds live on. May his bad ones be put to rest.
I would like to think that the good he did overshadowed any bad he did. Only God can judge his soul. I can't help but think that any wrong he did burdened him for all of his earthly it would most.
Your post is very nicely and evenly written! rated
He was hardly a boy at the time of Chappaquiddick - he was 37. As I have noted all over the other posts, Bobby, IMHO, was the least politicianish of the three.
They all played the game of privileged white males skillfully, expediently, many times, and as the "respected opposition" in what is our House of Lords. Yes, they advocated in behalf of social justice but
for me Bobby had the most heart and Bobby's words and actions spoke not just to justice but also to truth.
Rated. I think you've written the best summary I've seen. This is exactly the kind of thing that needs to be said, and I think you've gotten the tone just right as well.
de mortuis nil nisi bonum dicendum est
Deborah, thank you. I am girding my loins for those who don't agree or don't get my point. We'll see.

patricia, I can't feel that good eliminates the bad, but I have a feeling you're right about the burden he carried.

noah, thank you too for getting it. I was a major Bobby Kennedy fan, lucky enough to meet him a few times. I think he had the most character and ability.
Well put. Chappaquidick always bothered me - how it was just smoothed over...
Well done, Sally. He was no saint, that's for sure. He carried on a Kennedy legacy both in politics and in his personal lives...yes, lives.
Why do we demand perfection from our politicians when we are selves are imperfect. I am ambivalent about the tributes, but the last third of his life was more productive than the first two thirds.

He could have lived out the last third of his life different. I respect the choices he made . I respect your opinion here.
Britomart, thank you, what nice compliments on such a sticky subject.

Markin, I studied Latin for years but can't quite get it.

Myriad, it's always bothered me too. Maybe now we'll know.

Thanks, Cath. He did lead many lives.

OES, I too am ambivalent about the tributes. He did a lot of good eventually, but still... I join you in respecting all opinions, as long as everybody's as civil as you. :)
Wow, Karin, thank you. I've always called em as I've seen em, no reason to stop now. Respect for the dead in this instance should include Mary Jo.
Thanks for posting. This raises the angry ire of some folk.
This is a research I need to pay attention to-to inform - me.
I need to return to grammer school and get my GED and study more kindergarden.
The plane was departing from Fort Lewis, Washington. I couldn't go AWOL? That was against the law of the land for `the uninformed and drafted boondocks folks. We kids were plain old cannon- fodder farm-grunts. We were jungle humpers. The NVA shot lat us with AK- 47 rifles. Thet hunted the American GI l ike they thought American's youth were some tasty victuals for PHO soup, and good to eat?
Sally? The "My Ted Chappaquiddick Story" you had in the color blue is sorta broke?
It no did do worked.
Maybe a tomorrow?
Good night. Good post.
trivia -
I was off to `Nam on the July 20th, 1969 Moon walk. Serious, the Moon and Chappaquiddick details is a blank? I can remember the headlines in the news on my way to the nasty war from Washington State. The mountain at departure time was snow-capped at the peak on July 20th, 1969.
The memories are real.
For 7- months I was in green.
The tropical jungle was beautiful.
The Agent Orange withered canopies.
The toxic dew-drops they let drop? hushed.
Time flies. Jungle orchids wither with lizards.
Life appears like the flower
Vanishes like themorn dew
Withers as the misty vapor
It's amazing It still appears
Life appear . It is soon gone
Sally, thanks for rounding out the entire life of Ted Kennedy, a man I will remember at the end, when all is said and done, with respect. I will also remember the life and death of Mary Jo Kopechne. Thanks for this.
I have to confess to disliking this post, no offense to you personally. Yes, Chappaquiddick was a tragic and irresponsible tale, caused in part from a feeling of entitlement thrown down Teddy's throat since birth yet his irresponsible behavior could have been a reaction to losing all his brothers before their time. The man had issues and dealt with them poorly. He made up for them by serving the public UNTIL HIS DYING DAY. Watch your three brothers get killed before their time, your sister lobotomized, another sister killed in a plane crash, and witness untold tragedy in the rest of your family and try to serve the public good and see how you do.
well said! Teddy is going straight to Catholic Hell for this misdeed.


''Most of all, worst of all, he caused a woman's death.

You can never un ring that bell. Not even if you step up, show remorse, actively seek rehabilitation and redemption.

None of which Ted Kennedy ever did. Not a day in jail. Not a day in rehab. No community service. No statement of responsibility. He paid a fine, he paid off the family and went on with his own life.

Mary Jo Kopechne's life was over. A young woman barely out of her teens. Who would never grow up to see her own promise fulfilled, the achievements, successes she might have had. ''
While Kennedy was wrong at Chappaquidick, I think that if you balance it out, in the end, the legislation he sponsored saved far more lives than the one he took.

His push for AIDS research, for example, has probably saved thousands of lives. And then his push for health insurance for children did the same. It's likely that his push for the WIC program helped keep children from dying of malnutrition.

May our balance sheets all work out like that in the end.
I really think that there was some kind of evolution in Teddy's behavior and attitudes as he got more tenure in the Senate. In theee 1960s, Teddy was much more under the influence of his older brothers and his upbringing. Things were loose with booze and foxy chicks back then.

You are absolutely correct about him not serving time. If it were anyone but a Kennedy, they would probably go to jail for manslaughter. Unfortunately, what this shows is the privilege and advantages that accrue to the upper class of this country. How else could have George W. Bush gotten a cushy appointment to the Air National Guard, were it not for the intervention of his father? And how could he have gone AWOL without reprecussions were it not for his family name? Criticisms of Teddy Kennedy up to the death of Mary Jo Kopechne are fair, but so are criticisms of W, and for the same reason.

Why do conservatives focus so much on the privileges of Teddy Kennedy when they don't also focus on the privileges of the Bushes?

I am sure that Teddy atoned for his behavior with Mary Jo Kopechne until the day he died. And as to his drinking, womanizing, or Irish temper -- none of this appeared to have any adverse effect on his ability to be the greatest US senator ever.

And unlike any modern president, Teddy Kennedy may have been responsible for only one death, while every US president since Franklin Roosevelt can be rightly called a mass murderer.
Yes, it's true, Chappaquiddick will always be a blemish on this man's legacy. There is no denying that. His reckless behavior was responsible for that girl's death. But Kennedy was a tireless public servant, who gave his all to being a good senator. I don't know if that can cancel out the past. I only know that the man did his best to atone, and for that, I must salute him.
What Pretend Farmer said. I found this post remarkably mean-spirited, so close on the heels of his death. What purpose did it serve? As if we are not excruciatingly aware of his failures.

He was a flawed human being – aren’t we all? - whose family suffered unimaginable loss in service to this country. And still, he continued to serve, and fight for social justice, and improve this country until the end. He deserves at least the same respect and compassion you showed for Bob Novak. So very, very sorry to have read this.
I have to agree with you Sally. He had personal problems that were of a sometimes astounding level. He, like so many very wealthy and powerful people, got away with too much. Not knowing him on that personal level leaves me with only his public life to use as a measure of who he was and what he did. his work ion behalf of the working man is commendable, his actions as a private citizen were less so. He is gone, the last of them. Will a new generation arise that is more responsible in those facets of life? Only time will tell. I cannot defend his known actions in regard to Miss Kopechne's death. He carried the whole truth to his grave.
I know many people who revere Ted Kennedy, something I cannot do. I am grateful and mindful of the many great and helpful pieces of legislation he pushed through. I am also mindful of the pieces that weren't so great (NCLB comes immediately to mind) and of the many mis-steps he made in his life. For those asking why we should demand more of our politicians, hold them up to a higher standard, I would ask this - is there any reason why we should not hold them up to the SAME standard as everyone else?
Funny how that hardly ever seems to happen.

I agree that Ted was a wonderful orator and is probably rightly considered the elder statesman of the US Senate. I also am sorry for his passing, as he tried to do many of the right things. But I also believe in being honest, and it would be dishonest of me to say the man was a saint and a paragon of virtue. He was a man, just like the rest of us.
well done.

Ted was not morally bankrupt. But he was not quite the right thing, either. Constant fear of being shot alters a life? ok. Alchoholism? yeah. Too rich and privileged? yes.

But one might say his lifelong devotion to changing health care for the better was a penance of a kind.

And the main thing, yes: poor Mary jo and her family.
If I were related to that woman, or if I had a comparable experience to bias my point of view, I would likely be very agitated myself with the glorification of the man.

Instead, I am going to look at this post, as well as all others including other media attention his death presently arouses, as a learning moment--something like this: ditch the puritanism; each of us contain the potentiality of all life. I think I will be more mindful to remember that fact next time I feel the knee-jerk call and response to judge (whether that be good/ bad).
Sorry, Arthur, the link works now. Thank you for a captivating comment as usual.

Mary, thank you for joining me in offering respect, which does not have to include blind worship.

Lauren, I respect your opinions always, even if we don't agree. All you say is true, and I said it too... an enormous amount to admire in the man and his accomplishments. I just can't justify the idea that living through tragedy gives anyone a right to get a pass on taking a life.

danbloom, I can't speak of Catholic hell as it's not my place, or my religion. Thank you, I think (?) for appreciating my words.

Tony, old new, Michael, this wasn't easy to write and you all make valid points, many of which I made myself, including my respect and admiration for his exceptional body of work and service. In the end, though, especially as a parent, I can't quite accept that good deeds balance having caused a girl's death. And much as I despised GWB, I don't think our presidents have been mass murderers.

Donna, I'm sorry you believe me to be mean-spirited, it's never my wish and truly, not in my nature. As I've said above, I honored Senator Kennedy here with admiration and respect, just also expressed my distress about the areas of his life that caused pain, and loss. My two cents about Bob Novak came from knowing the man and I only offered personal belief that he wasn't as evil as people believed.

Wow. bobbot, Bill, Greg, JK, ghost writer, you have each spoken much more eloquently than I ... a broad spectrum of conflicted response which many of us have been feeling. Thank you for giving me more food for thought.
Sally, I am surprised that since you know what happened at Chappquidick, you would frame that accident as Teddy having "taken a life". It was clearly an accident, which I can agree was likely caused by excessive drinking, but "taking a life" seems to imply intent. The cover-up is what riles me. The truth was so much simpler. Pure accident. I wonder, do you hold the woman who told you the real story accountable for her part in the accident too?

Of course, many people feel the way you do, so of course you have an audience for this. However, I find it difficult to swallow that your "admire" him for his accomplishments, yet harshly judge him guilty of many " lifelong" sins against God and man throughout the majority of this post. Disingenious actually. Why didn't you just have the nerve to write the "Ted Kennedy was a bad man" post without the flimsy self-protective clauses at the end?
Why didn't you just have the nerve to write the "Ted Kennedy was a bad man" post without the flimsy self-protective clauses at the end?

While I won't deign to speak for Sally, IMHO Kelly you missed the point by a country mile.

It wasn't about Ted Kennedy being a "bad man"; it was simply about Ted Kennedy not being the saint that he is continuously portrayed as. He was a man. Simply that.
I'm also puzzled, I guess, by the sense that we cannot admire all the good he did while at the same time be distressed at the bad as well. Why is that such a problem?

I admired the work he did in the Senate, when it was good. I abhorred his sense of privilege and entitlement, as well as his legislation when it was not so good.

So that makes me Satan? Or merely disingenuous?
Chappaquiddick happened in 1969. He made a mistake during a time when people like the Kennedys were protected from facing the consequences of those mistakes. I believe he spent the rest of his life making up for and paying for it. He was not a perfect man but I believe he was a great man, who also happened to be an alcoholic. Bringing this up now in light of the exemplary way he lived his life, particularly in the Senate, and his later years after he gave up drinking seems mean spirited to me.

What has he done for us as a country? Lately: He broke with the Democratic party and supported Barack Obama in his presidential bid. I don't know a soul that thinks he showed up at the Democratic National Convention as a play for attention.

He was instrumental in passing the Ryan White Care Act (for treatment for low income people with AIDS), the Mental Health Parity Act (forcing insurance companies to provide mental health care), COBRA (continuing insurance for those no longer employed), SCHIP (health insurance for poor children), HIPPA (for health care privacy, among other things), and the ADA (the American's with Disabilities Act).

By all accounts he was a wonderful person.

I agree with the editorial in our local newspaper, which you can find at:

"Had Kennedy lived, he would have been a good influence in the Senate in a critical year, with a new president in office and bitter divisions in American life that need to be softened by the better angels we hope are still left in our national nature."

Perhaps we should remember Senator Kennedy by the words he spoke at his brother, Bobby's, funeral:

"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."
I find it puzzling and alarming at the rush of feminists to idolize & defend Ted Kennedy. Throughout his long and priveledged life, alcoholism, debauchery, sexual harrassment and adultery were prevalent and he was unapologetic about them. He and Chris Dodd invented the "waitress sandwich."
We're not even trying to hold him at a higher standard but as Bill S. said, "How about just the same standard WE are all held to?"
First of all Deborah, I for one am not in a rush to lionize Ted kennedy. I have been an unwavering and unapologetic supporter and admirer for many many years. Many of us are.

Second, I am interested in your claim of sexual harrassment and the inventor of the "waitres sandwhich". Not claims I have heard before, perhaps you could provide references?

Third, you say he was "not apologetic". Really? And you know this ... how?

And Bill S, I don't think I missed Sally's point at all. Maybe you should re-read the post and see that the majority of her thoughts are judegments on the man's character and behaviour, and they are all negative. So I simplified. That's all.

Connie Mack had a great point. Except Ted Kennedy had a lot more time than his brother to actually live up to those words. and he did so magnificently.
I've been thinking about your chappaquiddick story since hearing this news and wondering what will come out, too, if anything, to validate this story.

I think he had all the faults you name but redeemed himself in public service. I'm sorry he's gone, especially since if he were alive and healthy, I think we'd have a decent health care reform bill this year. I hope the power of his memory may still make it happen.
I am rating your post. I'm not sure how I feel- I live in Massachusetts, have for most of my life. He was my senator my entire life. I knew his son, Patrick (briefly), and met him on two occassions.
I'm glad you expressed your thoughts eloquently, and didn't just rail against his flaws. It's almost like, most of the time, you either love him or you hate him - no middle ground. I'm glad to see there's a nice representation of the middle ground here.
I loved him. And so I have been crying, off and on, watching the news - the motorcade, today, was staggering. It's because I have driven that road a thousand times, and know Hyannisport and saw his sailboat come into Vineyard Haven harbor. The Red Sox tribute - cried. Because that's how it is in Massachusetts - not everyone, but many, are loyal to the Kennedy's in an almost irrational way - like we own them.
I was on the Vineyard for the 20th anniversary of Mary Jo Kopechne's death, and many of the jurors spoke out, saying in time they came to regret the sentencing. But the bottom line is: he was charged, he pled and he was sentenced. Whatever strings his father pulled - which we don't know about - he went through the legal system. So, while you might wish the charges had been different, he went through the legal process.
Anyway, I'm grieving, along with many in this country, as you yourself are to a certain extent, perhaps, if only for the potential he still had to shape this country at this time.
I miss him - it's pretty poignant around here....thanks, Sally.
I'm not going to get into a battle with those who hold opinions so strong they attack me and others who have different ideas. No one can win and I have no desire to host a pissing contest.

Bill and Deborah, thank you for trying to help me make sense of a conflict a lot of people feel... and have expressed here as well.

Connie, those beautifully words of eulogy were written by Frank Mankiewicz, Bobby's press secretary and dear friend. The sentiment is pitch perfect in reflecting Bobby Kennedy's entire life, public and private. I can't see it quite as fitting for Ted, but still, the does reflect the dreams of the Kennedy family and the millions of people they have all inspired.

aim, thank you for your praise and especially for acknowledging my effort to find and describe, as you say, 'the middle ground.' Your own description of such a special Kennedy connection is extremely poignant and moving. No matter what else, I'm sorry for yours, his family's --and the country's-- loss.
Apologies for the typos above, still have trouble with the keyboard, shoulder-healing-wise.

Silkstone, apologiy to you, I wanted to note that I agree with you and said in this post that I hope a new health care reform bill will bear Ted Kennedy's name.

I'm not a monster, folks. I'm a parent and a wife and a person who thinks it's okay to ask questions, to state opinions, to seek, if not find, some closure within conflict.
I don't have a problem with owning up to the shortcomings of an individual. I'm not in the know about much of Teddy's personal life, but I do remember Chappaquiddick and all of the news coverage and the feeling of why does this guy get a way with something that most mortals would go to jail for.
I have found myself giving him his due with regards to all of the great things he has done for the people. Certainly some atonement has been given on his part. Not much more to add to the mix that hasn't already been said. I can see it both ways.
BTW, I didn't find this to be mean spirited. Just factual. Sometimes life is a pinata and other times it's a hornets nest that you whack with the stick. Thanks for the courage to keep swinging, Sally.
Interesting post. You know if you took out Ted Kennedy's name - you would think that you were talking about George W. Bush.

As for my personal feelings about Ted Kennedy - I'm sure, he was probably a huge asshole but you can't take his positives away now can you? He was for the little guy - no matter how fucked up he was personally.

Can you say that about your dearly departed Bob Novak? That champion of the average Joe?

"And much as I despised GWB, I don't think our presidents have been mass murderers. "

Go tell that to the Iraqis - I doubt that they would agree with you.

"this wasn't easy to write"

Pardon me for not believing you. Now, back to your grave pissing party. Enjoy!
Oh come on Sally. You are way too much of an old pro to plead the "they're attacking me" case.

I asked you an honest question. Perhaps your memory is not as good as mine, but if you recall, I also know the real story behind Chappquidick too. Yours was told to you by the woman IN THE CAR with Ted when he drove off the bridge. You accused Ted of "taking a life" in what was, after all. a fairly innocent drunk-driving accident in which the two drunks in the car escaped, not knowing Mary Jo was THERE.

Do you hold the other woman responsible for "taking a life" too?

You have not been attacked here. You have, however, been challenged. Please don't plead yourself "too delicate" to handle responding to your own inflammatory post (although your injury is acknowledged and typing is painful).

I wasn't going to mention it, but since devilgrrrl did, I will second - you defended Bob Novak, who did tangible harm to this country while maintaining a public personna (and according to you, quite possibly a personal one) of meanness and unkindness and generally dislikable qualities, but felt a need to post about Ted Kennedy's PERSONAL transgressions in light of all the tangible good he did for this country?

BTW this post is not rated. So sue me, or ignore me (which you do anyway) but don't play the "I was attacked card" because we both know you did all of this for ratings.
Redemption. It matters, it's good, it's a part of greatness. Teddy Kennedy did it right.

He voted against the law that led to the invasion of Iraq. How many lives has that law cost? ( And you have to count Iraqi lives as well as American.) He devoted a good part of his career to advocacy of universal health care. How many Americans die every year because they can't afford medical care? (Not intended to be a comprehensive listing of the lives he preserved or tried to.)

And the - by your own story - accidental death of that one passed out drunk woman overrides all those other lives?

As to his privilege - that's the way it is. Not just here, the world over. It's the way humans do things. Otoh, I've personally known plenty of not at all rich or privileged miserable drunks to do plenty of miserably depraved things and never pay a bit for them, nor ever experience any remorse or redeem themselves with good works on anything near the scale of Kennedy's. My very own brother, for one. It's not only rich people who do bad things and get off, you know.

And even here, of all places, sexual behavior that is not purely within-marriage-monogamous is the sole determinant of morality? And is promiscuous sex really anti-feminist?

This is just so sad.

Teddy Kennedy was a great man. I wish he had lived much, much longer.
Excellent job. Well written and quite accurate. He did get away with murder. But he was always the champion of so many that have so little. What would the country look like had he gone to prison. Alot worse I should think. The Lord does work in mysterious ways.

John E Moore MD
Sorry, I will not let the "he did get away with murder" charge stand. Although Sally almost said the same, she knows damn well it was a tragic accident.
Bill S has gotten to me!

I'm sorry if my words made you feel attacked.

And Bill S, I don't think I missed Sally's point at all. Maybe you should re-read the post and see that the majority of her thoughts are judegments on the man's character and behaviour, and they are all negative. So I simplified. That's all.

Kelly, you call it simplification. I see it as glossing over the truthful observations that the man had his faults. Are you so enamored of him that you refuse to see his flaws? Seriously?

You say Ted was a great man. I don't think anyone would question the tremendous good he did, and attempted to do, with the legislation he passed. But do you really want to say the rest of it doesn't matter and shouldn't be mentioned ever?

nerdcred - You say Ted did redemption right. OK, you are entitled to feel that way. But don't you think it reasonable that I'm still entitled to not like the man? Isn't that my right as well?

For all of you so busy trying to paint Sally (and those of us who were not so enamored of the late senator) as a bitter and judgmental person attempting to smear the man's character, let me just say this:

I did not like Ted. I still don't like him. That does not stop me from acknowledging the good that he did, and it does not stop me from feeling sorry that he has died. But I would sincerely hope that you and others are not saying that we are all delusional and bad people simply because we did not love him and refuse to dismiss the bad things that he did. That is so close to censorship that I think you really don't want to go there.

I'm done on this subject. Everyone is entitled to their viewpoint, folks. If you can't agree to disagree, you should probably not bother commenting because no one is going to win a comment war. Go read Greg Correll's excellent post here:
Kick a man while he's down why don't you
I hope those of us who are Kennedy partisans take time today to reflect on his influence, and our great love for this man. Watch the coverage of his lengthy funeral, read (online), some of the tributes.
I respect everyone's opinion - I just hope everyone, including his critics, have some time today to mourn his passing.
It's ironic (? maybe that's not the right term) that this is also the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina - which Ted Kennedy was the first, best and most vocal critic of the government's response, and which reflected the failure of so many systems that he championed.
I wish that we could not argue until Monday - we ALL need some time to reflect and, if we choose, grieve in our own ways.
I thought about going to Boston, but I think I'll just remember him, under full sail, coming into the harbor.
Kelly, this one thing I will dispute vigorously: "You accused Ted of "taking a life" in what was, after all. a fairly innocent drunk-driving accident..." There is no such thing as an innocent drunk-driving accident. Driving drunk is the same as aiming a loaded gun into a crowd. Too many know this too tragically well.

And btw, though I totally disagreed with his political views, I don't think Bob Novak was the Devil, I said so and gave some reasons since I knew him as a nice man who also gave back. A lot of journalists and liberal dems said the same thing... did you read them the riot act? Bob Novak, Ted Kennedy, apples and oranges anyway.

Again, I stand with Bill (and many others) comments in support of the concept that all sides of a story can be reviewed and opinions offered without those who disagree rising up in outrage as if personally attacked. No one wins.

Please, all, read ghost writer's and aim's comments above, read Bill's and Greg's posts. Remember Ted Kennedy with respect and in any other way that's meaningful to you.