Time magazine makes a great point this morning in the wake of the death of Ted Kennedy. It says that because Kennedy never ascended to the presidency, as everyone had once assumed was his birthright, he never had to see his political career -- his personal and professional ambitions -- weather a post-presidential twilight. In other words, Kennedy had something few presidents can ever lay claim to: true, enduring power. The fact that the "Liberal Lion" was working tirelessly for health care reform -- a decades-long personal campaign of his -- right up until his death early this morning and despite an ongoing battle, ironically, with cancer, provides a testament to the level of his political passion.
There's going to be a lot of talk today about the legacy of Ted Kennedy and the Kennedy family in general, given that Senator Kennedy's death marks the honest-to-God end of a political era, and truthfully it's impossible to overstate the impact that Kennedy and his brothers' presence has had on both the political landscape and our popular culture in general all these years. Love him or hate him, tire of his personal triumphs and tragedies or be fascinated by them, Ted Kennedy was a force of nature; a larger-than-life, yet all-too-human, champion of unapologetically liberal values; a man who fought for the poor, against racism, and who took up the torch of community service and volunteerism -- even during a lengthy period in our nation's history when such issues were anything but fashionable.
But it was the notion of affordable health care for all that stood as his greatest crusade and, one would hope, will wind up being his legacy.
Ted Kennedy truly was America's greatest legislator -- and once again, agree with him or disagree, his singular voice will be sorely missed.