Ted Kennedy: "The Work Begins Anew, The Hope Rises Again, And The Dream Lives On"

11/08/2008 06:22 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

To see Ted Kennedy talking about hope is very inspiring.

This is a man who was given a terminal diagnosis earlier this summer, a brain tumor for which there is no cure. He's also a man who has lost too many family members to tragedy.

He's also had one hell of a career, one that has recovered from events that would have consigned lesser men to a footnote.

He's seen a lot of these conventions, no doubt each one with all sorts of hope attached. But, he also knows the difference.

So, knowing all that — and it's a lot — it was particularly affecting to see him stand on that stage at this moment, and talk about hope.

Seeing him deliver that speech — was there a dry eye in the house? Not according to CNN's audience cam — I was struck by how strong he seemed, how sturdy and steady, embodying that nickname, 'The Lion.' The timbre of his voice took me back to that day in January when he officially endorsed Barack Obama, saying "I can feel chaaaange in the air!," one of the most joyful lines delivered in this campaign.

That Obama has been pegged as the heir to the Kennedy political legacy isn't such a surprise. We knew that, for sure since Kennedy's niece, Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg, made it official in the New York Times. But even so, seeing Ted Kennedy officially passing that torch, in this place at this moment, is a reminder that Obama is no longer the rising upstart challenger, but the man claiming his rightful place at the head of the Democratic party, with the blessing of its longtime ruling family. And, of course, that family is not the Clintons.

That's probably a churlish point, and it's certainly a lesser one of this moment, which is about looking forward and not looking back — and not taking anything for granted: "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."

It does — and it belongs to him as much as anyone.

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