What a tremendous, sad loss. One of the most influential senators in U.S. history is dead before his time at 77. Here's his family's official statement:
Edward M. Kennedy – the husband, father, grandfather, brother and uncle we loved so deeply – died late Tuesday night at home in Hyannis Port. We’ve lost the irreplaceable center of our family and joyous light in our lives, but the inspiration of his faith, optimism, and perseverance will live on in our hearts forever. We thank everyone who gave him care and support over this last year, and everyone who stood with him for so many years in his tireless march for progress toward justice, fairness and opportunity for all. He loved this country and devoted his life to serving it. He always believed that our best days were still ahead, but it’s hard to imagine any of them without him.
Here's the Washington Post and New York Times obituaries. (Their related features should be linked on those pages.) Ted Kennedy's older sister, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, who founded the Special Olympics, died earlier this month on August 11th. The line that's always stuck with me comes from a 2002 interview Ted Kennedy did with Esquire: "There isn't a day that goes by when I don't think about my brothers."
The WaPo has a 5 minute clip of his 1980 concession speech, and via Digby comes this from last year:
Ted Kennedy admitted to his flaws. Politics can and does appeal to egos and vanity, and a healthy self-image is a necessity. But politics can also appeal to those who want to serve. As the obituaries note, Kennedy was tremendously popular in the Senate, and while he was a staunch, proud liberal, he was willing to work with those Republicans interested in practical solutions. Despite being born into privilege, Ted Kennedy was one of Congress' most stalwart champions for the underprivileged. He fought passionately for raising the minimum wage, for health care, and other measures to help average Americans and the poor. I'm hard pressed to think of an American family that has given and sacrificed more for the country than the Kennedys. I'm quite sad Ted Kennedy didn't live to see a good health care bill finally passed, and I wish he had been healthy enough to fight for it in committee. Passing a good bill would be the best and greatest tribute to his life's work. But condolences and best wishes to his family and many friends, and rest in peace.