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Edward Kennedy: Their Lion, Our Bane

Bill Bennett is the host of the nationally syndicated radio show, Bill Bennett's Morning in America, and the Washington Fellow at the Claremont Institute.

There is a lot one could say of Senator Kennedy - positive from supporters, negative from critics. They say one should not speak ill of the dead. True. But I am of the view that one should not lie about the dead either. So I will not go on.

Whatever one thought of him, there is no one in the Senate of his force, sheer power, and impact. If you think there is his equal in this, tell me who it is.

He and I attended the same church, and whenever he saw me he would be pleasant. But in the political battles, he was a fierce and tough - and sometimes a ruthless - operator. When he spoke in the Senate, people paid attention, regardless of party. As CNN reports: "Kennedy was one of only six senators in U.S. history to serve more than 40 years. He was elected to eight full terms to become the second most-senior senator after West Virginia Democrat Robert Byrd. He launched his political career in 1962, when he was elected to finish the unexpired Senate term of his brother, who became president in 1960. He won his first full term in 1964."

His biography is not complete without noting the tragedies of and in his family. Nor is it complete without saying he was an early and strong supporter of comprehensive health-care reform and also the campaign of Sen. Barack Obama.

There are the personal failings and tragedies that will mark any obituary of his as well, including the death of Mary Jo Kopechne. Were it not for his self-imposed recklessness, he may very well have been president.

He assaulted our causes and nominees with vigor and rancor. Still, in his day he was a powerful orator - and historians will mark his speech to the 1980 Democratic convention as a high water mark and example. To his supporters, I simply give them his words, and leave the rest to historians: "For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die." To the American Left, he was their lion. To the American conservative movement, he was our bane. But today, we put the politics aside and wish him and his family God's peace.

By Bill Bennett
Reprinted with permission from National Review Online

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