26 August 2009

Ted Kennedy has passed, after a long fight with cancer, and an even longer fight for progressive change in American society. 

I learned of his death late last night (well, early this morning) as even ESPN broadcast the news in the sports bar where I was eating dinner a little after midnight.  As often happens when someone who is both elderly (77 years in this case) and very ill (cancer of the brain) dies after a long struggle, I experienced a mix of sadness at the passing of our Senate Lion, and relief for him, as he is released from fighting disease.  And as also often happens for me when someone influential in national politics passes, I fear for the fate of the causes so dear to his heart.

This morning, just like almost all mornings, I woke up, answered a robo-call on health care ($99 for your whole family! Act now! Press 1 now to hear this important information!), fetched my morning java, and sat down to scan the headlines on Huffington Post’s websiteimageTed Kennedy’s name graced nearly every headline on the page, and I instantly teared up.  Why?  Certainly there is some sadness at anyone’s passing, and certainly there is a somber aspect to the loss of the last “Kennedy boy.”  I always feel for the many folks unknown to me who actually knew Kennedy and mourn the very personal loss in their own lives.  But in the mix was a great fear that the cause of his life, health care, has lost its most staunch warrior.  The loss of Kennedy, who already was only minimally able to participate in the health reform debates, means my world, our world, has become a little shakier, and my tears were at least a little driven by fear.

I mentioned the HuffPo headlines.  I really couldn’t face reading the many opinion pieces written about the life and the loss of this great Senator.  Later, when I’m more awake, but not first off.  I jaunted over to my other morning web-haunts, Steve Benen’s “Political Animal” blog at the Washington Monthly (where Kennedy’s passing was addressed in a more practical manner related to the political impact, than the memorials at HuffPo), and with much trepidation, decided to visit the snarky but delightful Wonkette.  Would that blog display its usual irreverence and trashiness?  Surprisingly, no.  Their subdued and short post, saying simply “So long, old fella,” brought on the tears for real.  When even that trashy blog holds its usually sharp tongue, I know an era has ended.

So long, old fella.  I will miss you, and we will all feel the loss of your forceful personality, and your immense efforts on behalf of us all.