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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The End of Camelot


For some people of a certain age Ted Kennedy will always be the rich drunk who drove off the Chappaquidick Bridge and sent Mary Jo Kopechne to her watery death.

For others - especially those of us with deep roots in New England soil - he will always be the scandal-tarnished baby brother who would never follow in the footsteps of Jack or Bobby but nevertheless did great good.

In fact, Kennedy's fingerprints are all over virtually every major liberal Democratic legislative initiative of the past 45 years and a goodly number of bipartisan ones, as well. These include the 1980 Americans With Disabilities Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

There could be no more poignant a reminder of the greatness of this exemplar of noblesse oblige than when several Senate conservatives openly wept after it was announced that he has been diagnosed with brain cancer.

With the death of Ted Kennedy late Tuesday night, the dream of Camelot has ended, but the legacy of Camelot continues as vibrant and robust as ever.

Here are Ted Kennedy's words at the Democratic National Convention which nominated Barack Obama to be this nation's next President:
"There is a new wave of change all around us, and if we set our compass true, we will reach our destination -- not merely victory for our party, but renewal for our nation. And this November, the torch will be passed again to a new generation of Americans. . . . The work begins anew. The hope rises again. And the dream lives on."

The torch has, indeed, been passed. The legacy of the dream lives on.

As King Arthur sang to the young boy, Tom, at the end of the play:
Don't let it be forgot

That once there was a spot

For one brief shining moment that was known

As Camelot
.
In the Spirit of Camelot and in honor of the esteemed Senator from Massachusetts, I offer the lovely, lilting "We Will Go Home" - from King Arthur, the movie.

Ted Kennedy has gone home. May he rest in peace and rise in glory.

21 comments:

whiteycat4104 said...

Teddy has gone home and his presence will be deeply missed. May he enjoy eternal peace. His passing is a great loss for our country.

Brad said...

I must be the only person in New England who doesn't care one way or the other about his death.
Noblesse oblige is fatal for democracy; his son is a Rep. in Rhode Island and, to be charitable, it's clear there's a reason they call RI "Massachusetts' idiot brother".
Every month the local public TV runs a "Camelot/Kennedy Legacy" special.
People need to get their own lives.
People who thought he was the devil were idiots; what he did to Mary Jo Kopechne was disgusting, absolutely unforgivable in anyone not as wealthy or connected. That his political career continued after that is as much our shame as his.
If "progressive" politics relies on what is, in effect, an unelected monarchy/aristocracy, it can't be a very good sign either for the country or "progressive" politics.

Mary said...

Thanks for this post. I'm watching the coverage on WBZ-Boston, and it seems to me that this is the last of the old-time coverage of an old-time campaigner. The anger that many in my family felt at the death of Mary-Jo Kopechne and his many infidelities was almost a personal sense of betrayal. And yet I feel grateful to have seen him at Faneuil Hall announcing his run for the Presidency, here and there on Beacon Hill, and speaking out at MIT for science education. "The old order changeth, giving way to the new. And God fulfills himself in many ways."

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

No, Brad, I'm sure you are not the only person who is ambivalent to Ted Kennedy's death. I hesitate to point out, however, you are hardly ambivalent. Might want to look into what's inside that - one way or the other.

Joie said...

I struggle with much of Ted Kennedy's past but believe he was redeemed and through his redemption millions of Americans were able to become more fully the people God created them to be. None of us knows what really happened with Mary Jo Kopechne but what he did with the rest of his life is important, too. People can be transformed.

Fran said...

He was a very human person - flawed but filled with greatness.

I am very emotional about the whole thing.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

I am, too, Fran. The last part of his life was so redemptive. Only a heartless bastard would condemn the first part of his life without celebrating the later part of his life. He was a Catholic in the best, Post Vatican II understanding of the word. I miss him already.

Brad said...

I'm not ambivalent-I'm indifferent.
"Pity the people that has no heroes-pity the people that needs them."

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

You wouldn't know it by what you wrote, Brad. Indifferent doesn't say, "what he did to MJ Kopechne was disgusting, absolutely unforgivable." Or, any of the other stuff you wrote.

Two Auntees said...

We pray for mercy for ourselves but demand justice for Ted Kennedy.

I am grateful for the life of Ted Kennedy. He was a force for change in civil rights, a supporter women's issues and expanded health care for many people.

I was able to provide health care to women through programs either authored by or supported by Sen. Ted Kennedy. I cannot help but be grateful for his part in those programs.

susankay said...

Brad -- "Every man's death diminishes me" It is unwise and perhaps unhealthy to not "care one way or the other" about ANYONE'S death.

I was horrified by the death of Mary Jo Kopechne, and actually even angrier about what Joan went through -- goes through. She was once a friend of mine in my Boston days.

But as a Christian, I have come to recognize redemption. It happened in Teddy's life. God blessed him with that and then blessed us all with what Teddy became.

Prayers for his family.

Brad said...

The emphasis on the lives of the powerful diminishes democracy by implying that it's only through the intercession of others that we get anything done, and that we have to be grateful for what they do and overlook things in them (and their families)that we would never tolerate in others.
I'd pass over forgiving those whose political activities help our own beliefs and wishes because that's virtually universal. Ugly, but very widespread, unfortunately.
When "There is one law for all" is diminished, so is democracy.
Millions of people die all over the world, some of them horribly. When I die, perhaps in great pain, tens of millions will be oblivious of this fact or let it pass with no more than "Oh, I didn't know he was still around" or "Gee, that's too bad." That's life. What else can you do-light candles? How does that help anybody? The dead are just that-and we can't do anything for them or about them.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

I don't think this is about diminishing "the power of one" - or those who organize to subvert the dominant paradigm. Indeed, I think Ted Kennedy's almost 47 years of service was about serving those who do not have power in this country.

I'm guessing that you are not of a denomination or personal persuasion which embraces the concept of "communion" - Eucharist. If this is true, then this conversation would not make much sense to you.

poppy tupper said...

What redemption? His political career was exemplary, but even after the killing of Mary-Jo his personal life was a mess. He was a bully, a drunkard, a philanderer. He was a fund-raiser to get money to buy weapons to kill innocent people in Ireland and England. He stood by and watched while a junior Kennedy raped a young woman on the beach. It is typical that the phoney Obama should admire this man.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

My, my, poppy tupper. Such venom. I understand that even his personal life found redemption after his marriage to his now widow, Victoria.

Let me guess: Republican, Evangelical or both?

Between you, me and the Fencepost said...

I stumbled across your blog. I googled " . . . Kennedys and Camelot" and and your blog came up. "The End of Camelot" was written so well I linked to your blog while making a point of Obama and healthcare reform. Excellent post!

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Thank you, Fencepost. Come back again. I'm excited to check out your post.

Brad said...

I think the need for heroes is pitiful; I think the wish to give other people heroes is disgusting.
You're right-I'm not a member of any religion. I've been to church and I thought that it was filled with a lot of old ladies of both sexes. If they were "mainline", it might as well have been NPR at prayer; if fundigelical, it was a lot of jumping around and talking about how dinosaurs walked the earth with Neanderthals. Catholicism and Orthodoxy were too complicated and too tribal.
The mainline churches are shrinking so fast that there will be exactly two Episcopalians in this country by 2060: one ordained and the one she/he gives the bread to.
I don't like being told to commemorate anybody; there are already way too many 'holidays' on the calendar as it is. Christmas is exhausting, expensive and celebrates the birth of someone whose existence I'm not sure of and whom I definitely wouldn't worship unless under serious duress.
You still haven't answered why "progressives" have no problem with the Lady Bountiful style of "social justice", why you have churches that claim to be for the poor but have the demographic profiles of Vermont.
You may be wrestling with these issues-I know you're pinned a lot.

Two Auntees said...

Brad, you sound exhausted from all your ranting, please find a couch to lay down on and grab a mint julep girl!

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

You know, Brad, I have to agree with Two Aunties. If you're not a Christian why do you bother to come visit our sites? Your anger is palpable no matter what you post.

Either you are masquerading as a "blog persona' as A Very Angry Person, or you need a healthy way to express your anger.

Or, you need a nap.

Brad said...

A "mint julep girl"?
Who, or what, is a "mint julep girl"?