The real journalists in America, those who record the first chapter in the books of history, are challenged writing obituaries of our fallen leaders when the person's life is filled with complexities, contradictions and accomplishments such as that of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy.
Citizen journalists, those who write blogs, are not constraint by such niceties. They call it as they see it. They come straight to the point. The guy was flawed. The guy was a hero. Etc. A classic example is The Moderate Voice's esteemed columnist and assistant editor Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes who writes a poignant dark aspect of Kennedy's life that drew some 30 comments from readers within hours after her posting.
Old journalistic practices have fallen by the wayside in today's instant news markets. No longer does one wait at least until the person is buried before the dirty laundry is aired. In the case of Kennedy, who matured and graduated to the most skilled advocate of his causes in the Senate during his 47-year career, speculation was immediate who would replace him.
But, old practices and customs do not die rapidly. We see that from the eulogies spoken by friends and foes alike, just as in the old days. Some examples:
Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona:
My friend, Ted Kennedy, was famous before he was accomplished.
But by the end of his life he had become irreplaceable in the institution he loved and in the affections of its members. He grew up in the long shadow of his brothers, but found a way to be useful to his country in ways that will outlast their accomplishments.
Many of his fellow senators, Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives, will note today that Ted was sincerely intent on finding enough common ground among us to make progress on the issues of our day, and toward that end he would work as hard and as modestly as any staffer. Many will recall his convivial nature, his humor, his thoughtfulness. We will praise as his greatest strength the integrity of his word. When he made a promise to you, he kept it, no matter what.
What is harder for us to express is the emptiness we will feel in the Senate in his absence. Even when we are all crowded in the chamber for a vote, engaged in dozens of separate conversations, it will seem a quiet and less interesting place, in the knowledge that his booming voice, fueled by his passion for his convictions, will never encourage or assail or impress us again.
I will miss him very much.
Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York:
Ted Kennedy was a mentor, a guiding light, and a close friend — we all loved the man. In the Senate, Ted Kennedy was our sun –- the center of our universe. To be pulled by his strong gravitational field, to bask in his warmth was a privilege, an honor, and, for many of us, even a life changing experience. His death leaves our world dark but, as he said in his own words, “the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die.” Ted, we will not let your flag fall.
In the days leading up to the end of his terminal battle with brain cancer, politics, being the cold-hearted beast that it is, raised its ugly head with critics speculating the absence of Kennedy represented a moral hole in the Democrats push to reform our nation's health care system.
Now that the 77-year-old Lion of the Senate is gone, the speculation has shifted to a rallying cry from the liberal Democrats to win one for Teddy. This leads us to the loudest mouth from the conservative ranks, radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh. Here is part of a story filed by ABC's Sarah Tobianski:
On his radio show today, Rush Limbaugh had some harsh words for Democrats reacting to Senator Kennedy's death today. Limbaugh argued that if the Democrats are able to pass a so-called "rationed" health care plan in Kennedy's memory, it would be "hypocrisy and "insulting."
"Ted Kennedy did not use any aspect of that health care legislation to try to survive," Limbaugh said. "It would be an insult to the memory of Ted Kennedy to put his name on a bill that has rationed health care based on someone's age and the extent of their illness."
Limbaugh said that he is probably right in his earlier prediction that Democrats will use Kennedy's death as a "pawn" to push through their health care agenda.
"The Left is exploiting him – his death and his legacy – and they are going to do it, as predicted, to push health care through," Limbaugh said...
Limbaugh said he was cracking up this morning on the mainstream media's coverage of Kennedy's passing and said that his listeners are frustrated over the "slobbering" media.
"No matter where you watch television today – even if you turn on FOX – you are going to get the syrupy - everything they say is going to be predictable: let's put aside our differences for today and respect the great work and achievements of Sen. Kennedy," Limbaugh said. " I am going to vomit and puke all over everyone with this analysis today."
Limbaugh said he took the greatest insult to Chris Matthew's words on the Today Show this morning, where Matthews said Sen. Kennedy handed the "ball over" to President Obama, calling the President "the last Kennedy brother." He said the media is more concerned about keeping Camelot alive.
"The media, they are not concerned the Kennedy's gone but, oh no, where do we go next to Lion-ize the next Kennedy?" Limbaugh said.
The greatest tribute to Kennedy, Limbaugh said, would be for all Americans to get the same health care that Kennedy received in his final days.
Am I reading this right? It is unclear to me what he's talking about in terms of rationed care. Yet, Limbaugh wants all Americans to receive the same health care privileges as Senator Kennedy. You mean Rush is in favor of reform, after all the slings and arrows he's tossed at the Democrats?
If that's true, Kennedy did not live his life in vain.
After all, if it takes the death of a passionate advocate to change the world as we know it, than may his soul reach eternity and absolve all the demons that tagged behind.
Of all the statements I have read today, this one epitomizes the tribute to one small aspect of Kennedy's life:
Nancy Reagan, wife of former President Ronald Reagan:
Given our political differences, people are sometimes surprised by how close Ronnie and I have been to the Kennedy family. But Ronnie and Ted could always find common ground, and they had great respect for one another. In recent years, Ted and I found our common ground in stem cell research, and I considered him an ally and a dear friend. I will miss him.
Edward M. Kennedy, may you rest in peace.