Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Ted Kennedy

I nearly titled this post "The Last Kennedy" because Ted was the last of the legendary brothers. Some called him the least of them, but his legacy is far greater than JFK and RFK's. A less glamorous, less tragic figure. Unlike them he isn't forever young. Ted's record in the Senate improved the lives of ordinary Americans enormously, in less noticeable ways, expanding safety nets and protecting rights. Bobby and Jack led more conspicuously by being activist and photogenic, but Ted did the long work writing the bills and building the alliances to get them enacted. Ted Kennedy appears only once in A Book of Ages, at age 37. That tragic early morning on Chappaquiddick defined his life in the minds of many people, but it didn't end his work. That is a different kind of heroism. The kind of thing novelists write about.

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