Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Why We Can't Afford to Lose Teddy Kennedy

Senator Edward Kennedy -- "Teddy" as Americans know him -- is in Massachusetts General Hospital with a malignant brain tumor. He apparently has what doctors call, in their high-tech sounding DoctorSpeak, a "glioma in the left parietal-lobe." He will be receiving radiation treatment for the next little while. Senator Kennedy is, of course, the last of the Kennedy Brothers. And he is the lion of liberalism in America. He has represented Massachusetts in the United States Senate since 1962, so of course -- it goes without saying -- the man is a political animal. He knows how to get things done, how to compromise, how to forge bipartisan unity without jettisoning his liberal agenda. More importantly, he knows when not to compromise, and when to play hardball with his adversaries. He's tough as hell. Now he's struggling against brain cancer. I'll never forget 26 years ago, when I was in junior high in suburban Holladay, Utah, and my right-wing social studies teacher told me that he disliked Kennedy because "Teddy is too much of a socialist for me." And I remember thinking to myself, "If this weenie thinks Kennedy is too much of a socialist, then Teddy can't be all that bad." It was only later I learned that Edward Kennedy represented the very best traditions in American liberalism. Now the world is watching and waiting to see what happens to Senator Kennedy. Like his other admirers, I wish him a speedy and full recovery. We cannot afford to lose Teddy Kennedy. At this difficult moment in history, we need him now more than ever.

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